Cast your mind back a while and picture the SEO landscape.
What was the surest fire way of getting a first page ranking on the search engine results pages?
Well, what you needed was a well-optimised website with numerous keyword-rich backlinks and you were practically guaranteed a decent ranking on the SERPs.
Unfortunately Google then had to come along and spoil things with the introduction of the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates. After these changes the focus shifted: what you then needed to provide to get a decent SERPS ranking was link quality and top-notch content. If you couldn’t manage to provide these then you could be subject to penalties and no hope of achieving a ranking of note.
Then of course we had the advent of social media and everything changed again. Facebook and Twitter changed the face of content marketing. If you couldn’t provide engaging and resonating content through social media platforms, your search engine rankings took a pounding.
Is it any wonder that many businesses are confused? Is it really surprising that many SMEs don’t know what strategy to follow to get their businesses in the public consciousness? Should they throw all their eggs into the social media marketing basket, or should they stick with better optimising their website? Well, hopefully the following information might be helpful.
In spite of the raft of changes, it’s important to remember that SEO remains important, perhaps even more important than it was a decade ago. If you want to get more business online then it’s vital to have a well-optimised website that curries favour with search engines like Google. SEO still remains as arguably the most important online marketing strategy, so your website still needs to thoroughly research its keywords and pay attention to Meta tags and canonical URLs. However, there is a caveat.
Keywords are no longer a game changer in themselves: context is everything. Gone are the days of keyword-stuffing. Google is now wise to this, and has tools at its disposal which let it analyse the subtleties and nuances of language. It knows when keywords are being used inappropriately and out of context, and it understands semantics. So for websites it’s now more important than ever to pay attention to keyword usage and distribution, and to ensure that those keywords are only ever contained in appropriate and focused content that delivers and adds value to the user experience. The alternative is a Google black mark and a drop in the rankings.
Much may have changed in the SEO world, but quality backlinks are every bit as important as they used to be. You might even argue that they’re more important now than ever as they are a key indicator/ determinant for Google ranking. So any online marketing strategy should be focused on creating these quality backlinks. What’s the best way to get quality backlinks? Well, you can try to get them by providing high-quality, sharable content, or you can go down the targeted route and try to get backlinks from industry-relevant directories and other targeted tactics. The important thing to remember is that the landscape has now changed when it comes to link building. The focus is now on link-earning rather than link building. This means that that you have to earn your backlinks by providing quality, relevance and expertise. Google scrutinises the quality of those backlinks. High-calibre backlinks boost search engines rankings, but poor backlinks are now potentially toxic.
With such an overload of content available, Google is known to regularly trawl Twitter and Facebook to look for influential content to rank. It makes sense when you think about it as content is readily visible and only the best peer-approved content gets shared. Google has tapped into this shared ‘knowledge and wisdom’ approach and uses these social media signals to determine the value of links and webpages. This means that if you can provide content with a strong social media presence then you will be able to boost your presence on the SERPs. What’s more, it will also increase the number of websites that link back to you as well. So SEO and social media have now become two sides of the same coin, and in order to do well on one, you’ll need to be doing well on the other.