The SEO landscape has changed drastically over the years and continues to evolve through new technology and the growth of social media. This topic can be a little controversial because many of the strategies promoted today were excellent strategies in the past. The reality is, SEOs relied too heavily on the shortcuts Google’s SPAM fighting team successfully diminished in effectiveness over the last few years. Rather than focusing on the shortcuts that lost effectiveness, I want to focus on the evergreen strategies and how they evolved.
I won’t focus too heavily on technical SEO because it fundamentally hasn’t changed a great deal. Tactics have changed but the strategy has always been to make sure your content is found by Google and the structure of your website is optimally designed for users. There were certainly spammy on-site SEO tactics that were abused over the years, but many of those were around the content on your pages and META data.
The Panda algorithm thankfully made content built for SEO the thing of the past. Smart SEOs were taking advantage all along by creating great content that was building a foundation for success. Those SEOs were happy to see Panda and Penguin launch and ultimately saw their websites flourish.
The future of content is being shaped by Google’s recognition of a drastic change in search behavior; the increase of conversational queries and the users need to have questions answered immediately. Hummingbird, a new framework for Google’s algorithms, was created to give Google the ability to satisfy this change. Today’s content strategy needs to answer the intent of these complex and conversational queries in order to be successful at driving organic search traffic.
Depending on your business, mobile content could be your most significant focus over the next few years. User intent when searching on a mobile device can be very different than a desktop user. With responsive design, your content needs to satisfy both types of users, which may not be as easy as you think. Develop a mobile content strategy before it is too late.
Video and pictures are also forms of content that need to be heavily considered for SEO. YouTube is surpassing Google as the most used search engine. Picture and video content dominate social media engagement. Beyond the potential for this content to drive traffic and links, social signals may become a more significant factor in Google’s organic search algorithms.
The well-publicized birth of Penguin automated Google’s ability to fight link SPAM and curtailed the commonly used shortcuts from being effective. Building high-quality backlinks has always been effective and that hasn’t changed. The days of finding a certain amount of links per month are over, though, and you really have to consider if it is worth building links with traditional outreach strategies.
As previously explained, content is the key to link-building for today’s SEO. The strategy should be focused on marketing the content and getting users to consume your content.
Beyond having an internal PR team or a high-priced PR Agency on retainer, social media has become the best platform to market your content cost-effectively. Embracing social media allows brands to “own” and manage their reputation, as well as engage with their followers and fans, which can be very powerful. Social citations of your brand and content may soon eclipse traditional link-building in helping your website rank well in Google.
SEO is evolving and your strategies need to evolve with it. Shortcuts still exist but history has shown us that investments in shortcuts are a waste of resources and can actually hurt your ability to rank organically in the future. Finding effective ways to utilize content and social media for SEO isn’t easy. A framework that works for every website doesn’t exist anymore. The best advice I can give is to focus on your audience and determine how to reach them better and that will lead to a strategy that is right for you.
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