Ah, feels like home. My first digital marketing success was a solo SEO project site that I made in WordPress, optimized with the Yoast plugin and published a ton of content on. I had dabbled in some title tag optimization, on site keyword targeting and meta description updates for a company that I worked at the time – but didn’t know if I could make the same techniques work on my own. Less than 6 months after launch of the site, there was a 48 hour period that produced over 1,000,000 sessions. It worked. Figured I should share what I learned with others.

What did I learn? I learned that Google provides digital marketers with almost all the tools they need to run a successful SEO campaign. Figuring out new ways to use the Keyword Planner, how to optimize & find new content topics based on Search Console Data, and plenty of resources on what NOT to do are available online. What don’t they provide you with? Google gives you guidelines, but not strict rules. Stay too far in the guidelines, and you’ll never win the race. Push the boundaries too far and your site SEO could run off course – dropping rank on top terms that drive high quality traffic. This is why understanding just one, or a few aspects of Search Engine Optimization isn’t enough. Seeing the full picture, and how different SEO elements interact is key.

There’s a problem though. There is no official SEO handbook, and if there was, it would be out of date in a week. Google has continued to update their organic ranking algorithms more frequently in an effort to provide the most relevant search results to their users. This has forced digital marketers to update their organic SEO strategies to truly optimize for the user with better content, site structure, page speed, mobile usability, functionality – be effectively innovative within bounds and Google is likely to reward you with rankings and traffic.

It’s Not All About Your Site

Most people who convert on a website do so on desktop computers, after searching for the brand name. Search Engine Optimization isn’t only about making your site rank for target non-brand terms, it’s also about controlling as much as you can of what the user see’s when they search for your company name online. Beyond your site, users should see your social media accounts, wikipedia page, articles about your company and industry related directories on the first page of branded search results. Controlling all of these rankable properties allows you to control the message before even clicking into one of the results provided by Google.

Branded PPC marketing campaigns can benefit most companies online as well. With the variety of Ad Extensions now available via Adwords, a well constructed branded PPC ad can improve your search engine performance by providing users with even more information prior to selecting a result on the first page of results. Sitelinks, callouts, reviews, location and call extensions are all great ways to provide that top level user experience that Google aims to give any casual search engine user.

Aiming for a Moving Target

With continuous algorithm updates from Google over the past several  years, getting ahead with SEO can seem like you’re aiming for a moving target. This is why I aim to continue to learn about about SEO as changes come down from the Google Gods. The articles below are my observations and opinions on changes within the search marketing industry, the trends that come and go – as well as the significant changes that stick and have a big impact on site traffic and overall business performance.