All of us want to get the SEO right but few stop to think what exactly SEO stands for and what is actually being done. SEO as we know stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization’. 2014 has been a year where many questions have been raised regarding what exactly is SEO or if SEO has finally come to an end. The reasons is quite simple and listed below.
The ever changing search algorithms has changed how people used to perform traditional SEO tasks.
Good quality content has increased the importance of good content writers.
The increase in the weight age of good content has led many people into believing that SEO is now more and that Content Marketing is the next SEO.
The fact of the matter is Social Media drives a very high percentage of traffic to your site.
A study showed that traffic received from Facebook was 3.5 % more than that from Google.
Another study showed that the conversion rate of leads received from Twitter were 4 times higher than those received from Google.
Real time marketing is now here to stay and is proving to be very fruitful.
Hence many Web Development firms have already begun using terms like ‘Digital Marketing firm’ instead of plain and simple SEO. They are correct in doing so since Digital Marketing covers more number of features and services.
With 2015 approaching within a week there are likely to be several questions floating around as to what is in store for the future of SEO. The search engine algorithms continue to change however there is a constant trend and that is a good thing. Hence it is safe to follow the trend to some extent when SEO strategist need to look ahead do their planning. With content marketing being given so much importance, it is quite natural that a small group of people have started thinking that their “Basic SEO tasks” are less to do with “search engine optimization” and more to do with “content optimization”. Hence the eternal question being “Has SEO as we know it really come to an end?”
What it used to be – SEO:
There was a time when SEO was not very popular and this was the time when Web Developers did not necessarily know what SEO was. The SEO techniques popular at this stage were a bit different and are listed below:
Keywords and Key phrases
Title and Meta Creation
Keyword Research and Positioning
Getting indexed by Google
Google Page Rank & Alexa Rank
Hidden Text & Keyword Stuffing
This list will bring a big smile to the face of every SEO expert who has been involved with SEO since a long time. SEO in those times was considerably different. It is safe to say the going was easier that it is now. This was a period were Meta tags, titles and domain names were given a lot of importance.
It was very common for SEO teams to use alternative methods to stuff their pages with keywords, like placing hidden text for example. The Meta tags too were given a great deal of importance and usually stuffed with a lot of keywords and lengthy description. The entire focus of an SEO team was quite different. A high number of people were taking advantages of the free run that they had at the search engines and also with content writing. Content writing for many meant just rewording other existing articles and adding keywords. It was SEO anarchy!
What it is now- SEO:
Search Engines have been tweaking their algorithms since as far as I can remember. They are right at what they are doing since their main aim is to provide the users with the relevant and good quality search results and links. However the recent updates of Google have gone a step further and made it even harder for content farms to be misused. There were several update that followed with the same theme.
The Panda update from Google began to set a new trend for the SEO teams. This update made sure that everyone heard Google’s advice load and clear; which was to focus more on their Website visitor experience and less on Google’s ranking algorithms.
Other search engines also have followed suit on having stricter rules for content and spamming. However Google still enjoys being the King of Search Engines.
The content writers are also beginning to understand that their keyword centric content has little value these days and more over the website may even be penalized in some form of way for doing that.
What does it mean to get it right – SEO:
There is the right way of doing things and the wrong way and sometimes the difference is quite blurred and subtle. Hence here are a few tips on how to get it right.
1. The Content Format :
It makes sense to write content that pleases a user while taking into consideration that not one size fits all.
For example it you are writing an article on a recently released Mobile Device and have gone on and on about the device in large paragraphs the reader is likely to stop reading after the second line. When it comes to reading an article about a Mobile device what matters most to the reader are the specifications, how they compare and what it means.
What would work better and interest the reader more is all the correct information in a tabular form so that it is an easy and quick read. The reader will then be forgiving if it is followed by a short and quick review that is to the point and mentions details about the new features or how they perform.
When I said not one size fits all I was referring to how every article cannot be designed like it is a list of specifications or a list of facts or even make use of bullet point for that matter.
I will take the example of an article about a Dentist’s Clinic to explain this. If the article is about a Dentist’s Clinic and their services simply displaying the facts about the clinic’s services using bullet points it may not go very well. Even if the article goes on to mention other information but instead of using normal paragraph with the details it only mentions the main features of the procedure it is less likely to interest the reader.
This is a common occurrence because at the end of the day the reader has some vested interest for reading an article. It is usually to obtain all the possible details on the topic. In terms of a mobile device the specifications along with a short description tell a lot about the device and when it comes to the Clinic the user is looking for more than just the fact about a procedure or a list of procedures that are available. Giving them a brief background along with the pros and cons coupled with several example or real life events and statistics will go a long way.
2. Keyword search evolving:
How many times has it happened to you that you are searching for something on the Internet but do not know the true name of the product and instead use something related to it to make a search. The fact of the matter is that Google is smart enough to give you a list of relevant and useful search results from the keywords that are even slightly related to the topic.
This can be better explained by an example. Let us say I am searching for the famous song by the group U2, “I Still haven’t found what I am looking for” but do remember the title of the song. All I can recall is that it is by U2 and it is something about “not found”. But guess what happens if I do a search like “u2 not found” from what little I remember the first result that comes up is the very song I am searching for, in spite the fact that wasn’t a keyword on the website.
You may say that was easy for Google to figure out, to which I suggest you try it yourself with something that you consider hard and test the results. So what this means at the end of the day the importance of keywords is what it used to be.
Keywords may be important but they should in no way and form influence the article in its flow. On the other hand publishing content which takes care of the broader perspective can be more fruitful. After all Google the search engine is growing older and wiser.
3. It pays to be original:
Keeping your content original is vital. I cannot stress enough how important it is to publish an article which has original content; has real world stories or examples that the reader can relate to and also contain facts and statistics that makes sure that the content holds water. The content should be well written and compel reader to share.
4. More Content but better content:
Content matters and the more the content the better. However once thing that is not good is repetition of content when it comes to content on your website.
Several websites are specially designed such that they have the same content displayed in a different method in different pages to take advantage of a broader range of the users. Even though their intension are good, doing so is likely to adversely affect the website.
At the same time more content is better as long it is unique, original and of good quality. It is now common knowledge that the visitors also prefer original content that has in-depth information on the topic instead of having to read many different articles to get the complete picture.
Google too has recognized this and responded by rewarding high quality content which consist of in-depth information on the topic.
5. Keyword research as well as audience research matter:
Keyword research is still on and don’t be under the impression that due to all the changes and future trends that it doesn’t matter. This helps you to better understand what is in demand. Combine it with the audience research and you will be able develop content that makes a difference.
6. Social Media matter:
Social Media cannot be ignored since the Social Media and Website search are closely related and both drive traffic to your website. Twitter is growing in popularity when it comes to real time marketing. It fact it is astounding that the conversion rate of leads generated from twitter is quite high.
7. Inbound links matter:
Inbound links from various sources has always been an SEO thing and it is good to see that it still matters. It is not as popular or effective as it used to be however it is not dead. Guest blogging is another technique that is also effective to some extent.
This may be a lot of information to digest; but it is important to take into consideration.
The trends are changing but they are constant; What I mean to say is that the changing trends show a clear direction in which the search engines are headed. This means that you will still require your team of SEO experts to help you stay afloat and remain competitive but the SEO team is in a better position to develop their respective strategies going into 2015 keeping in mind the current trend changes and staying within those bounds for the future tasks.
Alakmalak is one of the few firms that has witnessed the changing and evolving nature of SEO. At lot of it is to do with the search engines and the emerging technologies (the mobile trend for example). Alakmalak too has had to change their strategies in these testing times make sure they continue to deliver a high quality service to their clients. Besides having developed more than 2000 websites for clients from all around the world they have also been offering SEO services.
Over the years this too has evolved and now the term Digital Marketing Agency is more prevalent. SEO is a part of digital marketing though there is more than SEO. And SEO is more than just content marketing however one cannot deny the fact that good quality content is in high demand and make all the difference.