SEO, or search engine optimisation, has been a staple of online marketing since the 1990s.
The industry has traditionally been split into two camps, white hat and black hat, with black hat operators bending the rules a little more to achieve the promised land – the top of the Google rankings.
Google is the world’s favourite search engine and it’s been that way for so long and the company has become such a dominant force that it’s sometimes easy to forget why it got there in the first place.
Good search results are the key to Google’s popularity and if they lose that it’s terribly easy for the world to set some other search engine as its homepage.
So Google is constantly updating its practices in order to ensure that the top result for a search for, say, “cheap home insurance” is a decent insurance company not a page with the phrase “cheap home insurance” written several thousand times that links to a casino site.
In the past links have been the building blocks of what makes a site popular but Google is now recognising that social media is the chief way web users share content. So, where in the past a link to a site was a big plus point – which is why lots of marketers indulged in link building – now, Facebook likes and retweets count for more.
And, content must be good quality, useful material, otherwise it’ll get marked down.
This isn’t the end of marketing online but it has changed the focus.
According to Forbes contributor Ken Krogue, an SEO man himself, there is only one sort of content now: “real and relevant content that benefits those who search.”
SEO will still exist post-Penguin (the name of the Google algorithm that’s set the industry a flutter), but it will largely be internal SEO – the way your site is arranged to get your new, valuable content out to the world. Everyone who’s at all serious about internet marketing should be checking the Google blogs to find out what the best practices here are.
Google’s new authorship system, which we touched on in a recent newsletter, also helps. If you’ve got people with something of use to say, make sure they have a Google+ profile and their content is properly by-lined and they’ll start to build a reputation in their field which will give extra weight to what they write.
Krogue also recommends building good social followings – a good thing in their own right – to boost your search engine rankings, quoting Adam Torkildson on what matters: “It’s the buzz you create. And how much value you provide your community of followers in return.”
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