I was first introduced to Search Engine Optimisation in early 2012, an industry I never knew existed at all (like most people outside the industry), let alone that it had gone through a huge change in just a few short years and that I was in the middle of one of its biggest ever evolutions.
I have since learnt that SEO is one of the fastest moving and changing industries you could ever come across.
What I have learnt while being exposed to search marketing is that you never can stand still for too long, otherwise you will be left behind, as many have been. The market can change extremely quickly and as a result, SEO-ers have to be very adaptable and quick on their feet. It is amazing to look back over the last 12 months or less and see how much the overall direction of the industry has changed.
However, while this adaptability is an absolute necessity, if an SEO-er has been aware and forward thinking, then this does make the process of changing a lot easier. This brings me to the main point of this post. When I was first introduced to SEO tactics, article submission sites, community hubs, directories and blog networks were still being used as viable, legitimate SEO tactics.
SEO-ers simply had to identify the keywords, find the link gap and then hammer keyword stuffed article to an article site, submit the site to “powerful” directories and set up as many text and image links as possible and do it enough times to see the rankings go up.
This is without even thinking about “black hat” tactics, such as hidden anchor text, footer links, reciprocal linking, site wide linking etc which, while being un-ethical, still worked to an extent. As I was finding out about this, trying to piece together my knowledge of SEO and link building, it occurred to me that this can’t be the best way to gain authoritative links.
Surely, if you make something interesting, engaging and entertaining, that will get more links, shares, likes and interaction then some terrible 200 word article with eight links to the same site, all with the same anchor text, hosted on www.linksforseo.com.
This, of course, is what we now all know to be true and best practise, but in the past, this clearly wasn’t everyone’s belief. Those who could see past the directory and article sites and focus on making content that people actually want to read/listen to have survived a very turbulent year far better than those who held the old-school beliefs.
Successful, modern day SEO should now be much more content driven. Finding a concept to make an idea which will interest readers and users. Finding a time to release and promote the piece when it will get the most attention. Promoting it through avenues and to sites which are likely to share through social media, increasing awareness and organic pick-up. This in itself is a much longer process, but the rewards are much greater.
Like I say, even in my early days of involvement with SEO, this is what I assumed should be the desired and preferred method for increasing a websites visibility online. The “old-school” approach is so obviously an attempt to manipulate a system to one’s own advantage and that is not something that Google approves of. Not one bit.
The market is only going to continue to change. There are new elements that we expect to become important in the following year or so. These include the rumoured “Author Rank” which gives an author’s online profile more weighting, giving articles they write, comment on and engage with more value than those from unknown writers. Then there’s the concept of “Co-Citation” which gives context to the article in general around a link, helping rank and score the relevancy of the places links are placed. This gives yet more importance to the quality of the content and who it is targeted at.
The SEO landscape is constantly changing, but one thing that is almost certain is how quality, relevant and engaging content will garner the most interest, which will result in more social activity and more natural links will always be a primary aspect when planning and executing an SEO campaign.