SEO isn’t what it was. A lot has changed from the days of Meta information rush, stuffing keywords, and the constant drill of writing content for the spiders.
Google has taken the role of policing the web and that explains the release of a few algorithm updates (including the recent Hummingbird update) that has changed the way we optimize pages for search.
Here are at least seven tips to follow if you want your website to stand the tide of Google’s constant attacks on content (and hence your business):
SEO is for the long haul. Take it or leave it
There was a time when you could stuff keywords on a page and it’d show up. You could write up pure drivel – with key phrases inserted – and that would further help with search optimization.
Today, it’s about regularly pushing out highly valuable content, almost with no need for keywords and key phrases. The focus, suddenly, is on content quality and not on keywords, key word density, and purchased backlinks.
Jason Acidre – co-founder and CEO of Xight Interactive – admits that SEO is evolving forever. He firmly believes that SEO still has a lot of value for businesses – whether it’s for traffic, brand building, or for generating leads.
He makes a clear point: SEO is for the long haul. As we write this, there’s no such thing as short-term with SEO. Professionals providing SEO services and businesses now have to understand it takes a long time. So, are businesses up and ready for the long haul? Or are they still fishing for miracles?
SEO isn’t a Silo
For a long time now, SEO was almost positioned as an exclusive opportunity. It had a special place for businesses as a great and cost-effective way to get websites showing up in the first few pages of relevant Google searches. The SEO king is now almost dethroned.
SEO is no longer an exclusive marketing strategy. It was – and still is – always a part of a larger, more comprehensive digital marketing strategy. SEO is just one way of getting traffic to websites. Now, because it was a big way of getting traffic, it enjoyed the exclusivity treatment. Google, however, now focuses on a lot more parameters than what SEO basics have to do with.
Get off the “on-site, off-site SEO” hogwash. It’s important for businesses to understand the only kind of digital marketing that works is a comprehensive, well-planned, and diversified one. For SEO professionals, digital marketing is now a whole new opportunity.
It’s all about content and design now
SEO still has an important chair in the court; just not the kind of role it used to play. Today, it’s about content, design, outreach, social signals, and a list of other factors that had nothing to do with SEO earlier. Everything is coming together now.
Even for pure SEO work, it’s regularly published content that works to build inbound links. That, in turn, helps websites rank better in search. As you can see, you can play it anyway you want but it comes back to content and design ultimately.
After that, it’s about conversions and engagement.
Links are important. They come from value
Link building, like much of SEO, has changed. Buying links is old-fashioned although a lot of clients are still interested in this strategy. It’s abortive; it just won’t work. What works, however, is pure value.
Giving away valuable stuff gets you links. That can transcend to a feverish content production schedule, hectic days spent on creating slide decks, infographics, and many other forms of content that you should ideally create. Chris Lake has a very important post on Content Marketing strategy on econsultancy.com. Pick any of the different content forms that make sense for your business.
Note the patterns
Google’s Panda and Penguin updates were more like policing laws that affected websites without quality content. Then the Hummingbird Update makes Google more semantic and aims to get closer to the actual intent of the search user. Eric Enge of Search Engine Watch writes that Google+ is getting more important than ever taking the “social signal” criticality to a whole new level. PageRank almost seems to be dead. Social signals will continue to evolve. Google also launched “In-depth articles” feature, its “authorship” tries to bring an author’s personal authority to search listings and site’s publisher rank.
There’s a lot more coming in the new Post-Panda, Post-Penguin, and Post-Hummingbird world.
The future is in “audience optimization”
Erik Sherman of Inc Magazine makes a few important points in his post, and the most important being:
“…What is really important now is making a connection with an audience”
A lot of that has to do with real “care”. It’s about matching search results with user intent. It means that you’d have to take the nutty content out of your website and replace it with content that solves problems or gives your visitors what they’ve come out to your website for.
For businesses, it could mean using strategies like Gamification. It calls for businesses to increase engagement and traction.
Finally, it’s time to get back to the basics.
Google depends on Good SEO
Think of it this way: after fifteen years on search, Google wouldn’t want to hurt its own business. But, it’ll be compelled to. The Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird updates are all testimony to that.
Google does this because it’s success as a search tool depends on what comes up after users search. Since most websites don’t deserve to rank batter, Google will continue its overt pounding. It’ll kill websites with no value. It’ll not allow any content without value to show up on search.
Without getting too technical, that’s exactly where the search will go. Mobile or desktop; links or no links (although trusty links will help), search technology will evolve for the users. Businesses either walk on this path or suffer.
What tips do you have for SEO today? What’s happening to your business post the Google updates? What do you have to say?