There has been a lot of talk about SEO being dead over recent months, but in my view, to paraphrase Mark Twain, “reports of SEO’s death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Why am I so sure about this? Well to use an expression that is said to have been used by the famous Sherlock Holmes (but never was it seems) it’s ‘Elementary my dear Watson’, because quite simply ‘Google Needs Help’ to reach it’s own goal of listing the best sites for any given search term.
Google Needs Help in Deciding What Sites to List
This, some may say is a bit of a bold statement, but when you come to think of it, it’s totally true and always has been. It may actually be even truer today, as Google have stated that they want to list sites with ‘Good Content’. They go on to say that one of the ways they ‘decide’ on what ‘good is’ is by seeing how many times the content has been shared, and of course this ‘sharing’ needs people to take an action and ‘share’ , ‘like’ or link to a site’s content.
The Old Old SEO
If you go back in time in SEO, it was all very simple, you just keyword stuffed a page, and then built lots and lots of links to it, this was enough to get any page listed, but that was a long time ago indeed and so much has changed.
The Old SEO
Moving forwards in time a little, we see that it was Links that were the ‘silver bullet’ some people going so far as to say that they could get a blank page into the listings purely by the power of the links. One example of this was the ‘Google Bomb’ a technique that was used to get Google to come up with sites referring to George W Bush if you searched for ‘miserable failure’. This won’t work now of course, Google making changes back in 2007 to make sure that Links themselves would not work this way anymore. It however did work then and is an example of how Google took note of links.
The Arrival of Social Media
The arrival of Social Media however really changed the whole area of SEO, many of the ‘brownie points’ that Google gives to sites being re-allocated from the areas of On Page SEO and Links to Social Media ‘Chatter’.
This is really the change that you need to take into account, regardless of whether your business is active in Social Media or not, as just because you are not ‘talking about yourself’ does not mean that others are not (this by the way is another topic and is all about Brand Management / Protection, more on this another time).
Social Media Signal
It is this ‘Social Media Signal’ that is the real ‘killer’ today, Google ‘Wanting’ to see comments about a sites content in Twitter, Facebook on the Social Bookmarking sites etc, as this in their view means that the pages must be interesting.
However, it is not ‘good enough’ these days to just have good content on your site, you also need (especially in tough market places) to have interesting information on other sites, this process being known as ‘Content Marketing’. But even here it is not enough just to post this data, you have to make sure that this ‘shared content’ is itself ‘shared’ on Social Media sites.
How this Helps Google Decide to List Your Pages
This is of course the crux of the matter, as once you understand what you need to do to ‘help’ Google you will understand why SEO is still so very important…
Google the Blind Man
I believe that Google is much the same as a blind man in a department store, sure he will find the right department given time, but if he is helped, he’ll find it a lot faster (and perhaps before he just leaves) and be ‘happier’ when he does.
Helping Google find the right pages on a site starts with making sure that the site is well built and is structured to be ‘Search Engine Friendly’ (you would be surprised just how often sites are not built the right way even today). This includes, but is not restricted to, using the right Titles and Header tags for the pages. These together with a site map really helps Google know what the pages are about and where to find them.
Then there is the Links to a site. These are not anything like as powerful as they used to be, but they still count. You do however have to be careful as Google has many rules covering the linking arena .
Lastly, but not least we have the Social Signal mentioned above.
But What Part Does ‘Modern’ SEO Play?
First, SEO means keyword research, as it is this that drives the On Page SEO (the words on the pages). Following the SEO rules then ensures that the site is built with the Search Engines in mind (so that all the pages can be found and SHOUT the right words).
Links are next on the agenda. Now whilst Google only really wants to see links that are built by independent reviewers / visitors to a site and not by the site owner (or their agents), this is not always possible as people often won’t find a site unless it is listed on and Engine, so it really is a chicken and egg situation.
This means that the pump must be primed a little to start with at least, links being created by ‘artificial’ means. This is of course not liked by Google, but they know that it goes not and will turn a blind eye unless it is done in totally the wrong manner.
The New SEO’s real difference to the Old (and really old) SEO is that of Social Media.
As Google looks for social signal (the sharing / liking / bookmarking of sites) it is not surprising to find that today there is a huge industry whose one aim is to artificially create social signal to a site’s content or to its shared content. At the moment, in my view this is going a bit crazy and Google will no doubt put into place some checks and balances, so any work today has to be done carefully, but there is no doubt of its importance.
All the above helps the blind man
All of the three areas of the NEW SEO help the blind man find your site’s pages and what is more important understand what they are about and to at least ‘believe’ that they are ‘liked’ by others and are worthy of listing.
I hope that by now you will understand that SEO is far from dead as Google still needs help in deciding what pages to list for what.
If you would like to discuss your requirements, or just want to know a bit more, then please do contact us, we’ll be pleased to help.