SEO Is Dead, Long Live SEO

SEO is dead, long live SEO

If you’ve been reading the recent stories lamenting that Google has brought about the death of SEO with its latest algorithm modifications, you may be among the many fearing SEO has no future as a website ranking strategy.

What will people do now to influence a site’s search engine position? How can anyone possibly make money online now? What is to be of the SEO experts who possess no other marketable skills?

There is no need to worry. SEO is still as important as ever.

Google may have altered the game a little with it recent algorithms but for website owners who used SEO correctly in the first place, it’s simply a matter of Keeping Calm and Carrying On.

The Google mood swing

No, this is not the codename for the next Google search algorithm, though it would be fitting. The ‘paranoid’ are convinced Google has declared all-out-war on SEO. These same people probably employ dubious SEO methods (Black Hat SEO) in an attempt to hoodwink search engines and manipulate rankings. In this case, yes, Google has stepped up its efforts to rid the web of garbage websites with falsely inflated rankings.

For everyone else who sees SEO as the natural progression of a purposeful, informative website growing in stature and authority, building trust and quality as it attracts an ever-increasing stream of satisfied visitors, nothing has changed.

Quality is still the key but interaction matters

It should come as no surprise that the core fundamental behind increased web site traffic, and ranking, remains quality content.

But is this enough?

Wouldn’t it be great if all a website needed to do was provide informative, useful content and everything else came as a wonderful side-effect of this?

Sadly, nothing is this easy. Google expects quality, but now wants more.

This new requirement is: Interaction. A quality website should be encouraging visitor interaction already as part of regular online strategy. Why? Because visitor interaction increases average time on site, return visits, and word-of-mouth promotion.

So, how can a website promote visitor interaction?

The techniques for encouraging interaction are nothing new; the dominant websites have been utilizing these methods for years. Persuading readers to interact with website content solves problematic time-on-site issues, such as skim-reading and page exits. Interaction also provides opportunity for advanced visitor-related concepts like dynamic funnelling and real-time market research.

Google wants to see more interaction with users. Websites encouraging interaction with reader comments and feedback, for example, can expect some Google love. Sites providing engaging articles, polls, competitions, and questionnaires can expect a real increase in organic traffic and search rank.

Build trust and authority the natural way

Any website owner dreams of becoming the authority site for a chosen field. With authority comes trust and with both of these comes an open-armed welcome from Google. Google is constantly attempting to ensure search results are driven by quality and suitability. Every new algorithm change is a further attempt by Google to manipulate ranking so only websites providing up-to-date relevancy appear in the top results for a search.

Google checks comments from visitors, as well as site content. If a website is not a blog platform to begin with, including a blog-style section within a site can be a very powerful method to provide user interaction. But what if a website only has static pages?

This would be fine if the website is not relying on organic traffic. Maybe the website is simply a platform for an established business to provide an online solution for its clients. In this example, although the website may not be actively using SEO methodology, it could end up providing exactly what Google seeks just by populating the website with content its clients need. Without trying to follow SEO principles, the website is doing exactly what’s required to build trust and authority.

Trust and authority cannot be bought, manipulated, or rushed. There is no short-cut or secret formula. Build a website with the intent of populating it with engaging material. Then continue to provide a steady flow of useful information for visitors and Google will slowly welcome you into its inner circle of quality sites.

Populate for the people

Google is striving to achieve the search engine Holy Grail; where users will never have to look any further than the top three results for a solution to their queries. Every new algorithm is steering the SEO game in a new direction. No longer is SEO all about the volume of links websites have pointing to important pages, or how good sites are at keyword-optimization. Sure, links still play some part, and on-site optimisation doesn’t hurt, but neither holds the weight enjoyed in former years.

There is no magic formula for obtaining top-page ranking in a week. Don’t waste money on books, software, or video tutorial which promises this. Good ranking and healthy traffic will come naturally to a website that’s:

  • Well-structured
  • Content-rich
  • Relevant and topical
  • Positively encouraging visitor interaction and feedback
  • Building  a steady flow of natural links from quality sites
  • Putting the consumer first.

In a nutshell…

Google-friendly SEO is as easy as that. Build a website which revolves around customer satisfaction and high-quality service and everything SEO will fall naturally into place.

Google will love your site now and continue to love your site for years to come, no matter what search algorithm it has up its sleeve.

Over to you…

Do you feel SEO is dead? Or is it alive and kicking? Share your views below…

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Omar is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

2 Responses to “SEO Is Dead, Long Live SEO”

  1. Etienne
    January 23, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    Very good article asking some fundamental questions about SEO in 2013.

    SEO is more than ever alive and many of the SEO principles that were valid 10 years ago are still valid today: onsite optimisation still matters! What Google has done is add layers of complexity to the SEO equation in recent years – think link building, social signals…making it harder for poorly optimised/spammy websites to perform well in the search engine results pages.

    And while ranking well is key for any business, it is also important to remember that top rankings are nothing if your website doesn’t convert, so running some conversion optimisation in parallel to SEO activities is the best way to bring ROI.

  2. Omar Kattan
    January 23, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Spot on Etienne. Obsession with ranking without regard to conversion can be a costly mistake and one that happens far too often unfortunately. There are 2 elements to this: 1) SERP conversion optimization (ensuring that your snippets convert from impression to click) and 2) Onpage conversion optimization (ensuring that the click from the SERP converts to a measurable action). Thanks again for your input Etienne are we’re glad you enjoyed the post.

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