The whole world of digital marketing is maturing but it’s still hugely dynamic, particularly in the world of search marketing.
This makes it an exciting time to be involved in the sector but does mean more and more agencies and practitioners are being left behind, clinging to what used to work and sticking with habits even if they aren’t doing anyone any favours.
But how can you spot one of these search marketing laggards, who have fallen so far behind?
Only send you ranking reports
Analytics used to be expensive, inaccurate and scary. That used to be a justification for measuring your search performance by merely looking at whether you rankings were increasing.
That excuse doesn’t cut it anymore. This is made even more significant an oversight with the changes in how Google deliver its results. If everyone’s results are personalised what do you gain from knowing a ranking? Does the value of sixth place on a term change if a map or series of videos are triggered above it?
KPIs aren’t around performance
Different websites have different marks of success, however every site should be measuring goals.
Conversions must be a part of how search is reported, and bonus points if there’s an appreciation of branded searches role or an appreciation of multiple touch-points and traffic sources in a conversion.
Aren’t asking to work with you PR team
PR and link building will have different goals but there’s a lot of similarity in the approach and type of people they’ll be trying to contact. Collaboration between your SEO agency and PR people is a pre-requisite for any successful natural search campaign.
They haven’t talked about microformats
They sounds hugely geeky and for a number of years had no real commercial implications but with Rich Snippets and Google pulling data from microformats, like price and review ratings, directly through to search results pages, it can have a huge impact on the click-through rate to website.
It’s not applicable for every type of website or business but they should be exploring the options.
They don’t want to put content on your site
If I’d got a quid for every time I’d heard the phrase “content is king” from a search marketer I’d have enough cash to sort a hostile takeover of Google. Even though everyone says it, not everyone follows through.
A good search campaign will require you to be regularly adding new compelling content to your site. That doesn’t have to be a blog, but that’s normally one of the best methods.
There hasn’t been a discussion about social media
The biggest challenge around social media is it’s truly multi-disciplinary and requires input and commitment from all over a business.
Forward thinking search marketers will have realised they have a part to pay in that collaborative process and therefore be talking to you about how they can use social techniques as part of their search marketing brief.
They talk about keyword density
I’m sure at some point keyword density was a useful metric, one that helped people get their head around the fact you need to appreciate the terms people use, and work them sensibly and frequently into your content. But density of the keywords is a far too simplistic a method to estimate what is a hugely complicated process carried out by all the engines.
How Google understands keywords is far more complex than just density; recently SEOmoz, one of the most respected search websites, has recently been exploring just how sophisticated Google’s systems around keyword presence must be.
They’ve carried out analysis around Latent Dirichlet Allocation (or LDA to it’s friends) which is a brain-achingly complicated model which Google may or not be using, they've barely scratched the surface of the issue and it is already so complicated people with Maths degrees struggle to grasp it. So the simple equation of number of keyword mentions divided by total words on the page is worthless.