The ever-changing digital landscape continually forces the online industry to adapt to new playing rules, especially when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
In the past SEO received some bad press due to so-called ‘black hat’ practices like keyword stuffing and link spamming – these shortcuts were used to ensure quick results. Fortunately these techniques are now null and void thanks to multiple Google algorithm updates that serve to penalise practitioners who don’t follow their webmaster guidelines. Saying that SEO is dead also seems extreme when you take into account that there are almost a million people on LinkedIn with the term ‘SEO’ in their job title.
Understanding the basics
Before we go any further let’s discuss how search engines work:
- A user types a search phrase (e.g. “Google”)
- The search engine algorithms will gather results from its index.
- The user is provided with results that looks similar to the image below.
As you can see above, the search results seem a lot different when compared to 1998 below:
As you can see, with the inclusion of images, news, social metrics, etc. much has changed since 1998. According to recent studies, websites that implement SEO schema markup, on average will rank 4 positions higher compared to websites without schema markup.
Conclusion: Technical SEO is still alive. Now that we have discarded any rumours that SEO is dead, let’s discuss a few of the ways in which industry focus has shifted of late.
Are keywords still important?
SEO is no longer just about keywords. In fact, since October 2013, Google Analytics (leading website web analytics software) has hidden 80%+ of keyword data, which clearly means that Google is directing webmasters away from keywords. Essentially, webmasters are left with landing page data. If this isn’t enough to convince you, Google also introduced the Hummingbird Update on September 27, 2013. The biggest change to its search algorithm in 12 years, Hummingbird was implemented to improve search results for longer search queries, such as “How to choose an SEO agency?”.
Conclusion: Keywords aren’t as important as landing pages.
If not keywords, then what?
One thing is abundantly clear: content is king and Google is trying its utmost to drive this message home. This is why any SEO agency should include content marketing in their SEO mix. Content marketing could be the form of blogs or news articles, informational videos, infographics, etc. Furthermore, it is important that your SEO agency knows how to promote your content, whether it be through social media channels, link marketing or press releases. Find out more about our content marketing strategy by contacting us directly.
What about social signals?
Ranking factors are continually evolving and even though the head of webspam at Google says social signals aren’t part of their ranking factors, a strong correlation has been found between social signals and rankings. We know for sure that Google produces personalised results if you’re logged in through a Google+ account, and that they bias results based on your Google circles and Google+ friends. Also, with the introduction of Google Authorship it is only a matter of time until they start incorporating signals from this platform in their ranking factors. Find out more how we can help with your social media marketing.
Conclusion: Social media is set to become an important ranking factor. It is safe to say that SEO is far from dead. Search Engine Optimisation is an evolving industry that will continue to have a big impact on the way we acquire information for a long time to come.