Through its short but storied history, there have been a constant string of changes to SEO. As people tried (and succeeded) to work around algorithms through spam and other questionable methods, search engines have adapted accordingly. The evolution of SEO has culminated in a movement where it's become necessary to develop a comprehensive approach, rather than use standalone tactics.
So what's really new in SEO? Most recently, the Penguin 2.0 update and the release of Google Hummingbird has sent the signal that there is a new SEO landscape emerging, one where old and tried SEO practices just aren't going to cut it. Google is becoming less tolerant of -and better at targeting- spammy or manipulative SEO, all in the name of providing users with the most relevant search results.
Today, it's about big picture thinking. The new SEO requires creativity, diversity and comprehensive strategies that focus on:
Successful SEO campaigns are all about creating a cohesive strategy that fully integrates content, marketing, PR, brand building and social media. As such, it's no longer exclusive to search specialists; a team approach is required to build your brand and develop your marketing strategy over the long-term. The new SEO means you need to earn your rankings.
New In SEO: Making The Shift
The message is fairly clear - black hat SEO tactics aren't going to fly anymore. Companies that continue to ignore Google's new guidelines are putting themselves in the line of fire, risking penalization or, at the very least, an adverse impact on their website.
To earn your rankings in the new SEO landscape, you need to create remarkable content that people will use and share. This means that moving forward, content must be at the core of your marketing strategy. High quality websites that people want to continually revisit and talk about are the ones that will perform well in terms of search rankings.
Once you establish a repertoire of good content, SEO then becomes about promotion, branding, lead nurturing, conversion optimization and a number of other marketing tactics.
4 Areas Of Focus In The New SEO Landscape
1. Content creation: High quality content is absolutely essential, both for your users and for search rankings. Focus on frequently giving your users content that is unique, useful and engaging. If you can't create compelling content, your entire marketing effort will underperform.
2. Local Search: The way people seek information has changed. Increasingly, people are performing local searches or using their mobile devices to find the answers they need. Therefore, it's important to optimize your local listings through sites like Google + Local, which will help your brand perform better for location-based keywords.
3. Social Presence and Social Signals: Social media is quickly becoming a key element of the new SEO landscape because it is highly effective for content syndication and sharing. Social indicators such as tweets, shares and likes convey that content is valuable and are effective at distributing content. If your content goes viral, it will help broaden your brand's reach.
4. Branding: Brand popularity is now a very significant factor in Google search results. The more popular your brand becomes, the better chance you have gaining a good ranking. Therefore, your SEO and branding initiatives need to be considered together. Focus on building a stellar brand online rather than building huge volumes of back links. Making your brand superior will help you outrank the competition.
At the end of the day, the evolution of SEO has brought us to a point where standalone SEO tactics are ineffective. The new SEO landscape requires a comprehensive, multifaceted approach if you are to see any success. Marketers, webmasters and SEOs alike can either adapt or be left behind.
What steps are you taking to adapt to the new SEO landscape? Sound off in the comments!
Daniel is a Content Writer at Search Engine People. He is always experimenting with new formats and looking for creative ways to produce, optimize and promote content. He previously wrote for CanadaOne Magazine and helped create and implement online marketing strategies at Mongrel Media.