This was an interview I did for Reputation.com which has since changed focus on their content. Which means my wise words were deleted. I moved the article here in case you are interested i reading what my 2013 self thought of digital marketing back then.

SEO is still critical to any online marketing a business does, but there are a couple of things to avoid, says Shell Harris of Big Oak Inc., which specializes in offering SEO solutions to both small and large companies nationwide.

“Building excessive links is the biggest mistake. Links should come naturally from relationships, not because you submitted an article 100 times,” says Harris. “Quality links are hard to get so don’t expect to get a lot of them.”

And even though social media gets a lot of attention, he cautions that businesses should only invest a lot of time in it if they’re able to respond to customers who are also using it. If you don’t have enough time to fully support efforts on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, don’t push it; instead try to improve relationships with other organizations and businesses in your area.

“Social has proven to be a poor lead generator,” Harris says. “Think of it as brand building and you’ll be happier with your results.”

Here Harris offers some more insight on best practices for digital marketing:

Tell us about yourself … what’s your professional background?

I have been the owner and founding partner of Big Oak Studios Inc. since 2004. Before that I was an Art Director and an HTML developer for six years and earlier I was strictly involved with print design as a corporate Art Director. Big Oak provides the full slate of Internet Marketing services. SEO is our primary focus but this means we are also involved with site optimization, link building, writing, social media marketing, reputation management, web design, web development, WordPress development, conversion tracking and we offer Paid Search as well.

What sets you apart from other SEO companies?

We provide honest SEO services, no tricking the search engines. We only use USA employees and freelancers and we only work with companies who want to be a partner in their own success; we do not hide behind complicated practices. Our clients get monthly calls from us to review our work and ask questions about what we have done and what we will be doing to help their online marketing goals. We never want a client to be in the dark at any point.

Our work begins with research into the client’s business and we provide the right optimization and link building strategy within their budget. We realize that better search marketing should have the approach that is a marathon and not a sprint. We would like to believe this doesn’t set us apart and that all SEO companies follow this, but over the years we see this is not the case.

What do you think is the future of SEO?

Future of SEO

A comic we did about the future of SEO back in 2008. – RankedHard.com

The future at this point for SEO is to move forward with a light touch. Don’t do SEO, but market your business like the search engines aren’t there. Of course, quality content and great product/service are the heart of any good online campaign, but link building is still important. But the links you build should meet one of two criteria: The link should prove you are in the industry you are or you are located where you say you are. Meaning, links should support the idea of what your company does. If you sell dog treats, you should connecting with sites about dogs. If your offices are in Richmond, Va., then you should have links from local sites. Search engines pick up on these clues– industry and location.

For a company on a tight marketing budget, what are some easy ways they can boost their site ranking/performance without a lot of time or financial investment?

Make sure you are in all the local listings and directories in your area. Contact sites that have a good synergy with your site and see if you can provide partner links or write a blog post or article for them.

Blog for yourself. Set up a company blog on your site and start writing a few times per week. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just a few hundreds words two or three times a week. Treat it like a FAQ section on steroids. The importance of this cannot be understated. It adds content and increases your site’s coverage. Posts can also be used to feed the social media accounts you may have set up.

What are the smartest things a company can do to help boost its web performance and rankings?

Make sure every page on your site has an HTML title that explains what is on the page. Make your titles descriptive.

Blog, blog, blog — but blog about relative topics. If you sell dog treats, write about what treats are healthiest. Think like a dog owner might think when searching for dog treats and write about that and then link to your healthiest dog treats in that post.

Build links based on what type of business you are and where you are located. Industry links and localized links are powerful!

What are some best practices for creating interesting web content?

Do a Google search and see what they suggest. The Google Suggest tool is the basis for interesting and search-on content. See what Google suggests as you type and extrapolate ideas from that.

Google suggest tool

Google suggest tool

Also look for related searches at the bottom of the Google search page after you complete your search. They will usually provide more search phrases to click.

What businesses/companies/sites do you think consistently produce compelling web content and are worth emulating?

Why do you think it is important for companies and individuals to monitor their online reputations? What tools have you found helpful for doing this?

We work with a few companies that need this service, particularly in the law field where your reputation is your business. Keeping on top of poor or spiteful reviews or articles is extremely important. The tool we use most is Google. We use their alerts system, which does a good, but not perfect job, of keeping up with information about the person or company we are tracking. Sometimes you must go back to basics and start searching across Google and Bing to see what you can find.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts