There have been a lot of things happening in the last week on the SEO front. Between Google making some fairly significant changes to how they display authorship snippets in its results pages and some interesting studies on the impact search engine optimization really has on your traffic. We also take a look at a great article on how to balance your time between more conventional SEO processes and content marketing.
What does “Direct” traffic really mean, anyway? It’s often just a repository for the traffic that is, for one reason or another, hard to classify. Over the years, there have been a lot of things that have changed the way many analytics programs report this traffic. Everything from Google’s shift to encrypted search to browsers simply not reporting where a user came from can change how direct traffic is reported.
It turns out, though, that a huge portion of this supposedly direct traffic is actually coming through organic search results.
How do we know this? Over on Search Engine Land you can take a look at the details of a very interesting experiment. Basically, the people at Groupon delisted their site for a day. (In the article, they very clearly warn against trying something like this on your own.)
The theory is simple. If they were deindexed, even for a short time, the level of direct traffic should have stayed normal. After all, they were all supposedly coming from to the site directly.
You’ll see in the article that this was clearly not the case. Just keep this in mind the next time you need to justify the value of SEO in your marketing campaign.
A couple weeks ago, Google made some announcements that got a lot of online marketers to start questioning some things. Most notably, the search engine has been pushing the importance of authorship to establish relevance, even displaying the author’s photo next to the description of the post in the search results.
Well no more!
Why? Well, the official reason is that Google conducted some research on the subject and determined that the pictures did not improve clickthrough rates significantly. Let’s also remember that it wasn’t too long ago that Google started cracking down on which authors would have their pictures displayed. Once again, unethical marketers were trying to game the system, so the system got tightened up its parameters.
However, some people had other thoughts. Take for example, this tweet from Rand Fishkin:
IMO, most compelling explanation for Google removing profile pics from search is that it distracted from ads, and cost advertisers clicks — Rand Fishkin (@randfish) June 25, 2014
We can get into this a little more, though. In this post by Elisa Gabbert over on the WordStream blog, we can take a closer look at the plausibility of this alternative theory.
In this article, Neil Patel draws a broad line between technical (or conventional) SEO and content marketing and asks how, exactly, we could split our time to be as effective as possible. After all, we only have a limited amount of time to spend on any given task, so we want to make sure that our efforts are producing the best results.
SEO and content marketing both have a lot of value, but they address completely different elements of marketing and branding. There was a time when SEO was all you really needed. The way you used your keywords, optimized your content, and build a linking structure was generally enough. It takes a little more than that, now.
Most technical aspects of SEO are fairly well known. But, he says, that alone won’t deliver success. It will, however, set you up for success. So where does the success come from? That would be where all the content marketing comes in.
SEO sets you up to receive traffic. Content marketing sends it. Content is still king. It’s where you can stand out. Everyone can do SEO, and everyone can do content marketing, but only you can do that one creative, incredible thing that makes your company stand out.
The SEO industry is changing all the time, and it can be a really challenge to keep up. Some of these new developments and strategies can help you improve your online rankings and grow your brand. Check out these articles to delve a little deeper into these recent changes.