One of the headlines I hate seeing is SEO Is Dead. You can almost guarantee that one of these blog posts will rear its ugly head at least once-a-month. Perhaps even more regularly at the moment following Google's Hummingbird announcement.
SEO isnt dead. It wont die as long as organic search engine listings exist. However, it has changed significantly over the past few years. Id like to review what used to work in the past and whats working now in October 2013.
Keyword density vs. Brand relevance
Quite a few years ago (approximately pre-2006), reviewing keyword density was a common SEO activity. Back then it was possible to manipulate search engine results by repeating the same keyword phrase over and over again on a web page. And it was generally considered that if approximately 5% of your on-page content consisted of a single phrase then it would be more likely to rank for that phrase.
Thankfully this no longer works. Google's Penguin filter means that any site that consistently repeats the same phrase over and over again is in significant danger of getting heavily penalized and losing rankings.
So if ensuring that your target keyword phrase is repeated a high percentage of times no longer works, whats a better SEO strategy for 2013 and onwards?
Rather on relying on the number of times that a particular phrase is repeated on a page, Google has now moved on and are now much more likely to rank a page highly if the domain name on which that page sits has consistently published quality related content in the past.
In essence, Google is now seeking to build brand relevance. Once Google is confident of the genre that the brand represents, it will be more likely to rank future webpages as long as if it can see that they relate to the core website message.
Therefore nowadays it makes sense to consistently publish quality, related content on the same domain and not to repeat the same keyword phrase multiple times on the same page.
Quantity of links vs. Social influence
Five-plus years ago the quantity of links that pointed to a web page were an imperative part of why that page ranked highly in Googles search engine results.
Its still important now but not nearly as important as it was. Google is now better able to determine the quality and relevance of links, so if lots of low quality, irrelevant links point to a site, the more likely that the site will suffer from a Google penalty.
Rather than trying to build lots of links to your site, a better use of your time now would be to build relationships with existing high-authority industry bloggers. If you do managed to obtain a single high-authority link from one of these bloggers, because of Googles logarithmic method of calculating link value, this single link could provide significantly more link power than hundreds of other low-quality backlinks combined.
However, in addition to whats generally referred to as link juice; high authority, relevant blog links are also likely to pass on social influence.
This happens because Google will look at things like the social footprint of the websites that link to you. If these sites are regularly discussed and shared on Twitter and Facebook and other social sharing sites then this is a strong indication to Google that the site that is linking to is well respected and therefore the link that points to your site should have higher value than other links.
Article submission vs. Authority blog contributor
A few years ago, submitting articles to article directories was a very effective form of SEO. General article directories tended to allow submitters to include an author bio with a link or links back to websites in exchange for the content.
It was and still is easy to find high-traffic article directories that are willing to publish articles in exchange for links. Article marketing was a great way to quickly build up a large quantity of links to a website from different domains, but unfortunately there were some negatives about this strategy from an SEO perspective as well
Firstly, article directories tend to be very general in nature, so this means that its difficult to provide a strong signal to Google that the directory is particularly relevant to linked websites.
Secondly, because article directories tend to link out to so many other websites, you never know which other links are being associated with your own website.
Its a much better strategy now to pinpoint relevant, niche industry authority blogs on which to regularly contribute. That way youre slowly building up the relevance and authority of your own website without targeting an irrelevant audience.
David Bain is author of the 26-Week Digital Marketing Plan as well as editor and founder of Digital Marketing Monthly iPad magazine. Check out David’s free 4 Phases of Digital Marketing seminar on YouTube.