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We've covered SEO tips for SMEs and mobile search, now we're asking contributors to Econsultancy’s new SEO Best Practice Guide about the 'low hanging fruit' - things that companies can implement easily to improve their search rankings. 

Suggestions include the use of online video, Google Places, making use of social signals and optimising for research queries...  

Will Critchlow, founder and Chief Strategist, Distilled

As the long-tail of search is shaken up by Panda (and the additional changes that we have to anticipate will follow), I think there will be huge new opportunities there as the old tactics of using massive domain authority and any-quality content decline.

As the old players move aside, someone has to rise to fill that gap. I'm also excited by the opportunities in video as online video consumption grows.

Jack Hubbard, CEO, Propellernet

If the SEO market is saturated why then do marketers only invest tens of thousands on SEO but millions on PPC, despite the fact that 90% of searchers favour the organic results?  It's because most programs are owned and managed exclusively by the technically led SEOs tinkering with site-wide best practice.

If you get creative content and PR people working alongside your SEO techies in a focused way, you will find an orchard of low hanging fruit, because hardly anyone seems to have figured out how to do this properly.

Lisa Myers, CEO of Verve Search

Google Places and Google Products/Shopping. It is shocking how few SEO companies actually do Local and Product optimisation, especially Local Search.

Google Places totally dominates the search engine results page, and with 20% of all Google search queries being related to local search, it’s a low hanging fruit that is just begging to be picked.

Don’t be put off by the notoriously difficult verification process of Google Places, if you have (or have a client that has) a business that relates to local search queries I would highly recommend you invest heavily in the time and effort it takes to optimise your listings, the results are staggering!

Alex Moss, Search Marketing Consultant, Pleer

Utilising the brand's social presence more effectively and concentrating on long tail to attract higher quality visitors.

Malcolm Coles, Director at Digital Sparkle

Making use of social signals, which are going to be increasingly important for SEO, is an obvious one. Embedding the ability to like, tweet etc into the actions that people take on websites, whether purchasing, reviewing, watching a video or whatever, is the best way to encourage people to do these things.

Too often site owners don't make it easy for users to share content and just throw a few random buttons onto the page. Make sharing integral to what you want users to do on your site.

And remember that you don't have to run a Facebook page to communicate with people via Facebook. By making use of OpenGraph you can use FB as a marketing channel without the overhead of managing comments etc.  That way you can drive traffic and encourage people to share your content.

The other low hanging fruit is, still, good content. Far too much so-called SEO copywriting is focussed on inserting specific keywords into appropriate heading levels. Yawn.

Site owners should think about making great content, whether it's written, video, infographics or an interactive tool. Yes, use the words that people will search for in that content. But that's a hygiene factor. Your first step should be to work out what "good" is going to look like.

Rishi Lakhani, Search Marketing Consultant

Research queries. The reason why sites like eHow are doing well is because they are answering those generic research questions that people ask. Many sites, especially e-commerce sites don't offer these, but the traffic and the rankings are there to be had. 

Take, for example, Questions such as "Types of laptops". 

Consumers buying laptops start their research with these questions. Who ranks for them? PCMag, ehow, affiliates. The query in itself has very low volume, but when tied in with the other 10,000 questions consumers ask, you have this long tail powerhouse that you can build if you spent your time catering for these.

Not to mention the links, tweets, likes and fans you can get by providing this type of mundane but necessary content. 

Lee Colbran, SEO Director at Fresh Egg

On site optimisation is still under valued as an SEO technique and yet arguably it’s the easiest to look at and improve (rarely is a site 100% optimised).

Site speed, poor coding, poor internal linking are all things that can be corrected and give an immediate boost.

Kelvin Newman, Creative Director at Site Visibility

In every industry there are search queries which commercial websites aren’t currently doing a good job answering, normally these are questions or comparisons. I think there’s a huge opportunity for businesses to start creating content that answers these questions or makes the comparisons between products and services.

There may not be huge volumes in these terms, but there is good will and with personalised search I think we’re all going to be concentrating on how to get people to visit early and visit often, so you can reap the reward when that commercial ‘I’m buying’ query does take place.

Andrew Girdwood, Media Innovations Director, bigmouthmedia

Reaching the nearby fruit very much depends on where you are standing. 

I think boutique agencies may have to diversify unless they can find and protect a remarkable unique selling point. I think the larger agencies now have the ability to blend their SEO offering with Branded Content, Social Media and other full digital marketing services. Success with this opportunity is not a given but does represent tremendous value for their clients.

I also think it makes a lot of sense for the SEO agency, of any size, to be the analytics insight agency employed by a brand. This helps the SEO agency add value and helps the brand with the business intelligence it needs to make coordinated digital marketing decisions.

SEO agencies are well placed to perform this role as most have strong analytics capabilities and agencies without a strong service offering tend to lack in search reporting tools.

Graham Charlton

Published 9 June, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Del Monte

I wonder how long "low hanging fruit" will remain in our world of bullsh*t bingo. It is right up there with "web 2.0", "synergy" and "out of the box" for stupid business phrases with no real use, the English language is so wide and varied why do we use such trite phrases?

about 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Sorry to have offended you with our jargon;)

We're not big fans of business / PR speak here at Econsultacy, but I would argue that 'low hanging fruit' is superior to other jargon, especially the dreadful 'leverage'.

In fact, many of these terms are banned from this blog: http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/3229-leveraging-the-synergies-death-to-prspeak

about 5 years ago

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Mehdi

HAHAH have just read the article about jargon and banned word list. I have to say that synergy is one word that has made me cringe for years!

about 5 years ago

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Adam, Webmaster

@Del Monte

What phrase would you suggest to replace 'low hanging fruit'?

about 5 years ago

Paul North

Paul North, Head of Content and Strategy at Mediarun

Great post. I clicked expecting to read things like "use site search queries to get new keyword ideas" and the like but these were all great insights into how SEO is changing.

Jack Hubbard, your point is one of the most astute I've read in an SEO blog. I hope plenty of Marketing Directors are reading.

about 5 years ago

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Iain Livingstone

Perhaps the 'low hanging fruit' was the source of the recent e-coli outbreak?

about 5 years ago

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Robin Carlisle

So there I was with my sly little smile and muffled giggle taking great yet dignified delight at this "fruitless" banter... when all at once I cackled as Iain wooshed open a window at that stanky little source of the problem. How insightful... and what a sneaky little hoot you are, Master Iain. I looooooooved this whole little convo. It aaaaaaaaaaall rang so true for me, too. Please, dooooooo continue! BTW, down here in the South, yall, we just call it "easy pickins." All that "low hanging fruit" talk just makes me hungry! And I just love all the pseudo intellectual but plain to the point talkin' on this blog. Kinda like a high-tech TMI version of Utne Reader on muscle relaxers. Lol, and I mean that in the oh so very nicest way! Thanks for inviting me in for a peak at this wonderful little blog of yours. Truly the most informative and relaxing brainpop I've had all day!!!

about 5 years ago

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Cindy McMahen

Graham, I like the reference to fruit too. Great topic. In fact, I wrote an article for a business publication last year using, "SEO success secrets: Cherry pick the low-hanging fruit". I linked to it here.... Our first focus is getting clients into those top five spots in Google - which get 70% of the clickthroughs. This includes looking at Google's Webmaster Tools for keywords delivering impressions - but which aren't generating clicks yet, and don't even show up in the analytics reports. What a great resource that is!

about 5 years ago

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Gary J Martin

I think it's always best to exploit the "low hanging fruit" first.
It may not be easy to reach forever, so take advantage of it now while you can, when you find it.

about 5 years ago

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Del Monte

@Cindy, how can you cherry pick low hanging fruit? #metaforphail

about 5 years ago

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Adam, Webmaster

@Del Monte

Don't you just love those mixed metaphors? ;-)

Any suggestions yet on what we should say instead of 'low hanging fruit'?

about 5 years ago

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Del Monte

What about "Easy Wins"? You don't need to be in a special club of business bullsh*tters to know what that means.

about 5 years ago

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Adam, Webmaster

Sorry, but 'low hanging fruit' and 'easy wins' are two expressions that mean much the same, and, as metaphors, are both just as valid. I don't see what the problem is with this expression.

There is plenty of appalling business jargon out there, much of which has totally opaque meanings - 'leveraging synergies' for example, or that just deviate from English as we know it - e.g. 'learnings', but 'low hanging fruit' just doesn't seem to fit into either of those groups.

about 5 years ago

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Robert Stoubos

I also think one area that has been forgotten in the above statements is Video - YouTube is actually a search engine in it's own right and YouTube popular YouTube videos often appear in search results for top terms. Video promotion and marketing is a great way to gain brand awareness and potentially additional ranking 'shelf space'.

In terms of the terminology, really who cares, personally I like 'quick wins' or 'quick impact' changes. These are quick changes afterall, which anyone with the time can do and they can directly affect their ranking positions in the SERPS without it actually costing anything other than time. I definately agree with most of the above, on-page often gets forgotten and should be on the list for continual refinement, social is a must and ties in with onsite promotion to these social areas and vice versa. Google Places and Google Shopping depends on the size and sector of the website, for example a small retailer with only a few products and 1 branch would not gain massive benefits but it would still be worth them having presence in these areas.

about 5 years ago

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Martin Bartle

All good and sound advice. I think the constant use of phrases like "low hanging fruit" not just in this article but our whole industry is because so many basic hygiene factors are either ignored or not known and so little of the very obvious best practice is applied... as a consultant I make a living out of it but it does get a little frustrating.

about 5 years ago

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Annie

I really enjoyed this post - it's reassuring to hear that useful info and honest (original) content are being rewarded by Google! I am frustrated because I've read so many badly written articles that scream keywords louder than the information they provide.

I've recenlty had fun setting up my own website and have started a blog that eventually I'd like to share with people... it's just in plain old non-optimized english though and I was beginning to wonder if there's any place for content like this on the web... or whether there's any point in even sharing it!

Del Monte, I can see that your are a real "out of the box" thinker so I'm surprised to see you let symatix get in the way of a good story!

about 5 years ago

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