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Technology & InternetDebunking SEO: Melissa Fach
What makes an optimal SEO strategy? Should companies fear Google updates? How do high-quality content and page ranking relate? Learn from SEO Aware's CEO (and guru), Melissa Fach.
Melissa Fach is the owner of SEOaware, where she helps businesses optimize their marketing strategies, exposure and ROI by enhancing SEO and SEM techniques. She is also the Managing Editor at Search Engine Journal. You can find her on Twitter @SEOAware. Melissa is also a big cat advocate and volunteer.
What was your first introduction to SEO? How has the concept of SEO – and techniques used to implore it – changed since this time?
MF: After having my second child, I chose to start freelance writing from home. It became clear very quickly that writing for the web was a must. As I started researching, I discovered SEO copywriting. As SEO companies started to hire me for SEO content, I realized they didn’t know what they were doing. I read and studied and read and read. Everything snowballed from there.
SEO has changed in a massive way since then and it changes all the time. SEO used to be fairly easy - now it is like a chess and Tetris game mixed into one. To be good at SEO you need to have strategies, know all the elements and know how they play off of one another. You have to know what works, what doesn’t and you have to have instinct. More importantly, you have to have significant experience and knowledge on the history of SEO to really be good at it. Good SEO’s can do searches in Google and see the changes. It is the ability to see the subtle changes that makes one good at SEO.
You have a BA in Psychology and MA in Mental Health. How does your educational background relate to your ability to optimize content and enhance marketing strategies?
MF: My educational background, I believe, is the main force behind any successes I have had. When you understand how people learn, what creates trust, what audiences want to hear, the ability to understand different types of audiences and what makes them stop and pay attention - you have a boost others do not.
Everything I do: SEO, content marketing, web development strategies, social, blogging - is based on the 7 years of psychology, sociology and mental health I studied. It is an invaluable resource for me.
Have Google’s Penguin and Panda updates altered your approach to marketing and business development at SEOAware?
MF: No. My strategy has always been from the beginning to cover my bases ethically. I do everything Google and other search engines have suggested they wanted. I follow the rules and suggestions given. As a result, none of my clients, or myself, has ever (knock on wood) been negatively impacted by any algorithm updates. In fact, all the updates have helped the sites I have worked on.
How can entrepreneurs and businesses best adapt to Google’s updates? What are the greatest SEO/SEM challenges we currently face?
MF: Google starts giving hints about what they want long before the updates appear. If you pay attention to what Google is saying and follow the path they suggest, I think you will be fine. You cannot succeed without someone, a consultant or qualified employee, paying close attention to Google.
I think the biggest challenge we face is educating those outside of our industry on the downfalls of working with someone that doesn’t “know” and “understand” the SEO/SEM industry. These wannabes have no clue what they are doing, they hurt our industry daily and they cost businesses so much money each year it is heartbreaking.
What does Google’s shift towards personalization mean in terms of creating high-quality content? Is it still possible to reach the masses through optimized content?
MF: If you, or your SEO/SEM company, take the time to cover all the bases you will not have an issue being found due to personalization.
What are the technical components of an optimal SEO strategy?
MF: Oh man, lots to say here! The whole point of SEO is to drive visitors to convert in one way or another. I see many people concerned about the perfect W3C coding, but they totally fail when it comes to making the visitor feel safe enough to invest either their time or money. To be great at this you have to care about much more than just the coding.
An optimal strategy requires these things at a minimum:
· A researched and planned website design based on goals.
· A researched and planned content strategy for pages, blog posts, videos, images and social, based on goals.
· A researched SEO plan of attack, again, based on goals.
· A complete breakdown of where competitors succeed and fail.
Would you say that content and SEO marketers are now of the same camp, blending optimization with the production of high-quality content?
MF: I think you cannot be successful without content and SEO combined. I know there are those that get a site at the top of page one with crappy content, but they have nothing in place for conversion and/or maintaining a solid audience. So, even if you get to #1 without the right content you fail anyway.
Once external content (not made for a blog or website) has been created and optimized, where do you advise clients to publish or broadcast this material?
MF: This completely depends on their goals and what they are hoping to achieve. No one ever gets the exact same advice from us. I laugh when people ask me to send them my “standard pricing”. There is no standard anything in my company. Everything is based on what the client will need to do to succeed and to meet their goals.
In today’s social media landscape, which do you see as more important for establishing a social media presence: strong, optimized content OR a large, active community following?
MF: I think you will fail without diverse content marketing strategies and an active community. However, many businesses don’t have the necessary time to spend on creating and maintaining an active social community. Choosing the right marketing methods for your company should be based on the infrastructure you have in place.
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