Understanding SEO in 2013
By: Justin McGill
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has changed greatly in the last few years. Have you managed to stay ahead of the curve, or are you trying to find out how you can take advantage of these changes to put your business over the top?
I will show you what has changed and what to expect going forward the rest of the year and into 2014. Before I do that though, let me start by covering some basic background on SEO.
Manipulating Search in Years Past
10 years ago all you had to do was update meta tags and title tags and you would be able to see drastic improvements in your search results.
Even as little as two to three years ago, you just had to build a bunch of easy links with the same anchor text.
In February 2011, Google rolled out a massive update aimed at lower quality websites that were obviously ranking due to massive link acquisition, had minimal useful content, and wreaked of SPAM. Google makes their fortunes on user relevance and when these types of sites are ranking in their index, users will go elsewhere.
In May of 2011, Google gave folks 23 bullet points to follow with regards to their quality guidelines for websites.
In April of 2012, Google rolled out another massive update to its algorithm code named Google Penguin. The focus on this update was to penalize websites who used “black-hat” SEO techniques. Black-hat is a way to describe techniques that exist for the sole purposing of “gaming Google” such as:
- keyword stuffing
- over-use of anchor text in links
- blog/link networks
- duplicate content
There are several elements, but these were some of the major ones that Google Penguin focused on.
What Will Be the Target of Future Updates?
At some point during this year, we will see another major update to the algorithm that will be targeting low quality merchants. Matt Cutts announced this at the SXSW Conference in March of this year. So if you are in the e-commerce game; now would be a good time to make sure your website is user friendly and brings a great experience to your customer.
Beyond the next update targeting merchants, there will be future changes. Neil Patel recently put together his thoughts on this topic and I feel he is spot on with just about everything. Here are the highlights:
- True social signals – you can try buying re-tweets and likes, but this could come back to haunt you at some point.
- Author rank – Writers that set up their G+ profile are able to establish credibility for their content. As this gets more widespread adoption, it is easy to think Google will look more favorably on content by well received authors.
- Co-Citations – Not everyone links to a website when they are talking about it. Google knows this and they look for the mention of your brand name or un-linked URL and give credit this way.
- Continued Devaluation of Links – Repetitive links, and in some cases links in the first paragraph, will probably see a decrease in value as well. This is because Google is seemingly going with Co-Citations as a truer indicator.
- Continued Devaluation of Sites – Weaker websites will continue to be pushed off the radar by Google. It is important to try earning your links through authority websites.
What Won’t Change
So what can you do to protect yourself? Put out great content and be social on networks and other blogs.
Stop link building, and start link earning.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.