For some time now, we’ve touted the importance of consistent, quality content and user satisfaction over the classic SEO techniques. Big name tech and business publications like Forbes and Mashable have even gone so far as to speculate the “Death of SEO.” Though we certainly wouldn’t denounce SEO best practices, we do agree that the days of incessant link building and keyword stuffing have long since been dead and buried. Yet there are still a surprising number of SEOs and business owners who believe that keywords and “tricking” Google are the be-all-end-all solution. To those we say it’s time to see the light!
A Brief History of SEO
At its inception, spammy keyword stuffing, link building, and guest blogging were the norm. They allowed sites to quickly build a large web presence, which initially indicated to Google that they were a trusted source of information. Then as the importance of fresh content increase, so too did the creation of content for content’s sake. Google caught on to these practices and released several updates to thwart these schemers. First, in February of 2011, Google rolled out Panda, an update to their algorithm that targeted sites they deemed low-quality or thin. Then April of 2012 brought the Penguin update, which was created in order to push the rankings of sites using black-hat SEO tactics down and otherwise infringing on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. With a final push in September of 2013, Google encrypted all of its searches, meaning that keyword data was no longer provided within Analytics.
Moving Forward with SEM
After these limitations were imposed by Google, we saw a shift in both SEO best practices and metrics.
- Focus on Increasing the Overall Quality of Your Site: The main goal of any webmaster is now what is should always have been: to provide a site that is useful to visitors. In the early stages of SEO, this was certainly muddled by the urge push one’s site up in the search engine rankings by any means necessary. Now that Google has made this virtually impossible, we see a renewed focus on quality and user satisfaction – not only in the content produced on the site but also in the site’s speed and overall functionality.
- Commit to Quality Content: At the risk of becoming a broken record, we will repeat that quality content is essential. Whether you’re adding pages to your site to discuss new products or services or posting blogs that help your customers through the buying process, adding content that is of use to your customers on a regular basis is a must.
- Draw Insight from the Tools Provided: Though Google has limited the information given to webmasters regarding the effectiveness of their SEO campaigns, there are still metrics available. Review your Analytics monthly, paying special attention to the Channels section. If you’ve made some changes that month – say posting two blogs a week rather than one – and the amount of traffic coming from Google has increased it is safe to say that that is a viable strategy. Additionally, some keyword data is still provided in Google Webmaster under Search Queries. This can help you gauge the efficacy of your efforts, though keep in mind that only a small percentage of the keyword data for actual clicks to your site is shown.
- Don’t Forget PPC: Paid advertising on Google is still a strong Search Engine Marketing tool. Even running a $100 campaign can help boost traffic to your site and give you feedback on the best key phrases for your company.
Now We Ask Again, Have You Seen the Light?
If you’re currently working with an SEO company that has promised you the moon and more using link building, guest blogging, posting generic or unoriginal content, and so on, run – don’t walk – away. It’s time to partner with a full service digital marketing firm that not only understands the current SEO best practices, but is also up-to-date on website usability issues, speed testing, social media, and other digital marketing techniques. In our interconnected world, you can’t work in a silo. Each piece has an effect on the other and working with a full service firm ensures that they are all in harmony.