Over the last couple of years, major updates to Google’s algorithm have led many in the marketing world to think traditional SEO is on the way out. Today, the only thing Google is interested in it seems is fresh and relevant content and understanding how you and your audience is interacting through the web.
Think back to some of the essential aspects of SEO; on-page optimization, anchor text, and traditional link building and you will realise that these are now pretty much useless according to Google. More recently, there are even some who believe sites that are heavily optimised for SEO could be getting penalised for it, although that is far harder to prove. The only thing for which we can all be sure is that content and social feedback is where it’s at right now.
So the next question is whether this means you should bin your SEO investment and switch to a pure content creation and social strategy…the answer is probably yes.
It may seem hard to comprehend but until Google’s vicelike grip on search is loosened by Bing and others, we are ultimately all at Google’s mercy. So whatever Google decrees, we must listen, comprehend and tow the party line. To ignore the digital goliath will undoubtedly hurt your business or brand’s position on the web.
That said, let’s remember why Google makes these changes. It is not to create a new industry of content marketeers. It is not to see countless ‘SEO experts’ forced into early retirement and it is certainly not just to hack you off – although all of those things will likely be happening. At the end of the day, SEO has always been about manipulation, about artificially inflating the perceived authority or relevance of your site and its content. It was a way to make you stand out against your competitors by helping/tricking Google into understanding and prioritising your content.
These days Google doesn’t need your help, it can see what’s on the page and how relevant, unique and timely it is. It can also identify the traffic to and from your site so it already understands the journeys your users are making. In addition, because of Google’s increasing sophistication, it’s in its interest to push organisations and site owners into a programme of content creation. New content brings people back to the web, they spend more time and money on the web and that is what every business, including Google, ultimately wants.
So if traditional SEO isn’t the answer, what is? There are several. Content creation is perhaps the most important tool but social media engagement is certainly another. And doesn’t that make more sense? By focusing your activity on customer-centric interactions, rather than twisting the nature of your site and content in the hope that Google will deliver hits, you will gain far more long-term value than a search engine algorithm can ever achieve.
Today, more than ever, content is central to success in the online world. The more valuable and relevant content you are able to produce, the better your results will be. The key to all this is relevance. Your target audience needs to find value in your content, so make sure you do your research and check your analytics to see what content resonates best with your customers.
The key takeaway from all this is that you can no longer get away with littering your site content with keywords and expecting to be at the top of the results. You must identify your audience and provide them with the content they’ll love, about topics they are likely to be searching for. Whether it is case studies or blogs, videos or photos, unique content that you’ve produced, containing terms that your customers use, is where you will make the biggest gains and you’ll find your site rise up the rankings.
Merchant Technology Marketing has dedicated writers and content producers who can help you understand how best to reach your targets. So, if you are looking to drive traffic to your site, establish a leadership position in your industry or engage more effectively with your audience, get in touch, we can help.