With all the changes from Panda and Penguin, people have been asking “Is SEO dead?” We believe that the answer is an emphatic no. In this Q&A session we’re going to talk about why SEO isn’t dead, and what Google’s changes over the past few years really mean to this field.
“Is SEO dead?”
Hardly! We’ve been in this business for sixteen years and people have been saying SEO has been dying for over ten of those years. Think about what SEO means. Search Engine Optimization. The only way that SEO is going to die is if there are no more search engines. Instead, just like every other time this question has reared up, the search engines have evolved to the point that old SEO techniques no longer work and new ones must be learned and implemented. If anything, a knowledgeable SEO (search engine optimization professional) is needed more than ever to reconfigure the website and upgrade marketing strategies to the new reality.
“Which techniques work now, and which ones don’t?”
Do you know what Google’s mission statement is? “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Many older SEO techniques were the equivalent of spamming or tricking Google’s search engine algorithm to rank your pages higher. These techniques served the marketer, not Google or the consumers of the content. For the past few years, Google has been cracking down heavily on those who try to game their system.
Therefore, if you want to keep ahead in the SEO game, you need to think like Google. Are your techniques making your content accessible, useful, and organized, or not? That’s the question you should be asking yourself and your SEO/content marketer.
“I’ve heard about Google’s disavow feature. Doesn’t that kill backlink strategies completely?”
First, a little explanation of the disavow feature. Google now allows you to say that links coming from a particular domain should no longer apply in their analysis of your site. It is mostly used by web sites that have been penalized by Google to get their site relisted, but some SEO companies are using it proactively to remove links that might get them penalized later.
Disavow isn’t being used to penalize sites. It’s meant to fix old spammy SEO strategies that no longer work. There are many sites now that have recovered after removing links to domains that were using bad SEO strategies to help them. If sites are blatantly advertising on your behalf rather than editorializing about you then you may have to remove some links.
“I’ve heard that social media is becoming the new backlink. Can you talk about how social is affecting SEO?”
If you look at the history of SEO, good SEO has always been social! Remember Google’s mission statement. What is a backlink but a social recognition that your site’s content is worthy of being shared with others? Yes, your social media footprint is rapidly becoming as important as your backlink profile. In time, social media may even surpass backlinks if they’re deemed to be a better indicator of relevance, utility, and organization. Google’s focus appears to be on Facebook and Google+ as the core indicators of social media relevance to SEO ranking.
“What can I do right now to get a jump on my competition in SEO?”
We recommend the following:
• If you’re not sure whether or not your old strategies were bad, hire a company to perform a backlink analysis of your domains and have them use the disavow feature to fix any problems. Be warned that this process can take several months to fully complete.
• Begin developing pillar content and social media profiles ASAP.
• Learn about Google’s new authorship tool and start using it.
• Develop all future content with an eye toward being useful to your readers and not to search engine scamming strategies.
• Hire content developers with a history of social media success or with a background in PR.