Where are we now?

The topic of Search Engine Optimisation may be new to you. You may be aware of it. You may not have heard of it before. Wherever you are on your SEO journey, one thing’s for sure, it changes fast and here is a good place to start

“In 2004, good SEO made you remarkable on the web. In 2014, good SEO is a result of being remarkable on the web.”

Rand Fishkin

Google algorithms have meant SEO practitioners have had to think fast, and change their methods quickly, which defines this dynamic industry.

Here we take a look a few of the key changes that have taken place and what it means for SEO today.

Design for Search

Step 1, get a website. Step 2, make sure it looks good. Step 3, tick that box - website done. Step 4, ignore for the rest of time. Not anymore.

A website now has to be considered as a living breathing thing that needs to be fed if it is to survive (be seen). A beautiful website does not mean that it will or can be found by your potential customers. SEO has forced a shift in the approach to web design. The customer is now placed at the forefront with usability and performance so that your company website best answers their search engine queries within your industry.

This is where SEO comes in; making sure you are seen where your customers are today – online.

The rules continue to shift with regard to site design and size. We are gradually seeing a move away from creating a vast number of pages now. Whilst a larger number will increase your chances of showing up for a variety of searches, a professionally built site with quality content and quality inbound links will prevail.

One page in particular that causes much discussion is the homepage. At one time, it was thought that this needed to be packed with content. The result of this, of course, was that the visitor was left overwhelmed and confused.

The homepage has been likened to your shop front – your chance to make your first impression. Content now should be sufficient enough to state who you are, what you do, match your value proposition (beauty, function, simplicity) and brand identity, and most importantly have a clear call to action – what should the visitor do next?

The Birth of Content Marketing

“Content is King”

Bill Gates

Keyword optimisation and placement were at one time, the ultimate trick in the SEO toolbox. This, however, had a negative impact upon the quality of content being produced, resulting in a poor searcher experience; the protection of which is something that Google fiercely pursues on behalf of the user.

Gone are the days of keyword cramming and writing for the robots. With the launch of the Google Panda algorithm, (which determined the quality of your site content), sites were penalised if they were considered to provide low-quality content and were therefore considered spammy. Google then assigned a lower quality score, which resulted in a severe impact in rankings and huge reductions in traffic numbers. This site-wide penalty system aimed to clean up search and improve the effectiveness of Google for the searcher.

So what did this mean for SEO? Well, Google is now all about the intent of the searcher. Rather than trying to match the words you search with to the keywords of a web page, it is now trying to match the intent to relevant, high-quality content.

It’s no longer about finding the perfect keywords and repeating them throughout the site. The content of your site should be varied enough to answer a multitude of search criteria but written under an overall theme.

“Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.”

Wendy Piersall

The Link Debate – Quality Over Quantity

As with the use of Keywords, the use of link building to improve your website’s authority is also under continual debate. The method is still valid, but no longer is it about quantity. Quality is the name of the game now. The race to achieve as many links as possible – and the shortcuts people took to do this – had a negative impact on the quality of search results. In addition to this, gave SEO a bit of a bad (spammy) reputation… one that it is still trying to shake.

SEO’s can no longer game the system.

Now thanks to our Google penguin friends, if you are seen to be exchanging too many links, it will be seen as an attempt at manipulation; for which you will be penalised.

So what now? Link with relevant and diverse sources that link to related parts of your site. Quality content is more likely to be published on web pages, blog posts on other sites – each will in turn, bring more links over time. If you focus on creating content of the highest quality, the links will follow.

Are you beginning to sense a theme?

So where is SEO in 2015?

So for this relatively new business function, we are already seeing something of a revolution. We are going back to basics. Back to the traditional roots and principles of marketing. We’re revising our Peter Druker’s and our Philip Kotler’s and reminding ourselves of the importance of a customer centric strategy, communicated through digital mediums.

The technical dust has settled, revealing that we have in fact gone full circle; returning the customer to the role of king, rather than the search engine. If you build a unique brand and an outstanding product or service and tell your story with authenticity… they will come.

So what drives all of this change? Well, it is Google’s attempt to “Deliver the absolute best result to users, as fast as possible”.

I publish this on November 26th 2015, and I can guarantee that by the end of this week, this information will be invalid. So if you want to keep up to date with all of the latest findings from the world of SEO, stay tuned to Fresh Air Digital.

I will leave you with a closing note from Hubspot:

“SEO is about the overall experience for a searcher, and that experience starts the moment they enter a search query. The better their experience with you - from your SERP listing, to the quality and relevancy of the content on your site, to the ease with which they can move through your site - the better your SEO will be, too.”

Up Next – Google Wildlife – A guide to Google Algorithms and what they mean for you.

Coming Soon!

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