Since Google began to punish manipulative link building in 2012, the digital press have been suggesting that SEO is on its way out – it’s not. If you believe and practice this mantra; your website’s visibility in organic search results will suffer.
Firstly, let’s remember what SEO actually is. SEO is much more than strategical keywords hidden in metadata, it’s more than just link building, it’s more than providing good user experience. If you take a combination of those three, you’re edging closer to the real picture. Search Engine Optimisation – that’s it, optimising your website to take advantage of a search engine’s algorithm.
There is no denial that SEO is changing and I think that’s worth stressing, but it’s also worth clarifying a few misconceptions and generalisation that are circling the web:
“Keywords aren’t important any more”
To be blunt, yes, they are. Google have become far better at understanding natural language, increasing the importance of synonyms and related terms – because of this, whilst it does take more effort to craft your keywords, it’s just more sophisticated. This means that ‘keyword-stuffers’ no longer get results. SEO isn’t dead, it’s growing up.
Using natural language and having well written copy is something any good copywriter can do but don’t make the mistake of thinking that this will subside on its own. You still need your relevant, thoroughly researched keywords to trigger search queries.
“Link building no longer works”
Google’s efforts to fight manipulative link building is well documented, they’ve gone as far to penalise those who do so. Old link building practices (adding links to websites where you’re in control of the link) has been replaced with new link building practices: offering quality product/service/content and telling people about it in order to earn links.
Commonly people are foregoing SEO investment altogether and replacing it with content marketing. I can’t press this point strongly enough: content marketing complements SEO, it does not replace it.
“SEO is now ALL about user experience”
Google has repeatedly stressed that it is looking to reward the sites/pages that provide solid user experiences with good visibility in their search results. The Panda algorithm is based on removing poor quality sites from top search results and the recent Phantom update looks to be rewarding sites that deliver a good user experience.
Keep in mind however, that those are Google’s goals rather than the current reality. One thing it pays to learn in the SEO industry is to only trust what the data tells you. Don’t rely upon what Google says, don’t rely upon what the gurus say – Take the time to dig into the results and really understand how each top ranking site differs from non-ranking sites.
One thing you’ll see is: at the moment at least, a huge percentage of it is still about proper keyword usage and links.
What I’m trying to say is – whilst SEO may no longer be a solitary method, it is still absolutely, unquestionably vital.
If you feel you need a helping hand with your digital marketing make sure you get in touch. Sharp Monkeys is a digital marketing agency based in Worcester.