This is a really difficult question to answer. I would have to say it depends on what you define SEO to be. If you are an agency or professional that made good money offering easy fit link packages, content spinning to multiple sources and very little in the way of actual brand enhancement, then you are not going to like the future.
None of these tactics will work for your clients over the long term; in fact they will be very destructive. No amount of “wiki links”, or “blog comments” will help you with anything other than link diversity from now on.
If you have offered clients a full spectrum of online marketing advice, with a focus on gaining traffic from as many different sources as possible, then the future can only get better for you and your business. A lot of people around the forums have complained for months now, in what they see as an unfair bias towards branded sites.
Maybe they are right. Perhaps SEO was always the hope for the smaller business to be able to compete at the same table as their bigger, more established competition. Maybe over the years smaller businesses will diminish as their source of online traffic is dissolved.
I don’t agree that this will happen because you now have eBay and Amazon who are almost tailor made for the small or home based business. Traffic for these sites is only increasing. Google sees this and wants to offer its users a more established and “safe” route to buy or gain information from, with branded companies that are well known to their clientele.
What Does This All Mean?
What it means is that Google has seen that there are plenty of new sites now that do not require a search engine to find them. eBay, for example has its own app for direct access, and it wants to make sure it is offering search results that its clients will want to see when they type in their keywords. It wants to keep people using its search engine. No surprise there.
Google has Pay Per Click advertising that businesses who want a short cut to page one exposure, can bid for. The organic searches, in its mind, need to contain trusted, authority sites that can offer its users security in the quality of information that is being provided. For too long, in Google’s eyes, small and meaningless sites have taken up spaces on page one, offering nothing more than affiliate or adsense advertising.
It just so happened that a lot of the tactics that were used by those “poor quality” sites were also used by legitimate businesses trying to game the system, and spend as little as possible doing so. Now that Google has began to clear the decks of the sites that it has little value for, a lot of those legitimate businesses are also taking a hit.
It also shows how the “old school” of search engine optimisation is now becoming of little value to those who genuinely want to promote their company and brand online, and gain traffic to grow their business. Some may say that it was only useful to rank a site and now it cannot even help to do that for any length of time.
So What For The Future?
Google may well lose more ground to its rivals, especially Bing, over the next few years. If it does the old white, grey or black hats may again be donned, to try and gain rankings from a new search engine. The trouble is, why would Bing, or even Yahoo, want to support the same kind of poor sites that Google began to successfully target and remove?
I think Microsoft would be just as keen and capable of making sure that all its searches offered the most reliable information and shopping listings. The fact is that perceptions, from businesses and those in the Internet marketing community, need to change, for the better in my opinion. More importance needs to be placed on P.C.P, or Proper Company Promotion.
Links need to be earned, not created. That is straight from Google’s Matt Cutts. No longer will advantage be gained from having a large link portfolio, based on created links and content that was designed just to create those links and nothing else. It is very hard to see from that viewpoint, how many of the old link building and content creation strategies pre 2011, can still offer value for consultants or their clients. Back links need to have each of these qualities for them to be valued and enhance a site:
- From a niche related authority site, ( we are looking at DA here not PR)
- Related to content that is also niche related
- Carry traffic to your site
- Not all come from the same website
Content needs to be looked at as a necessity for all those looking to gain a decent Web presence. A blog is a must to add regular updates and nice specific topics to your website. As with back links there are certain qualities that must be adhered to in order to gain maximum value:
- Does not use anchor text. Make sure that the desired keywords are in the text body. Anchor text is used as an indicator for created links now
- Latent Semantic Indexing for keywords. Do not “keyword stuff” your content. Long tail chasing is less effective with Google’s alterations to predictive text now looking for popular search terms instead of long tailed ones. L.S.I allows for multiple variations of the desired keywords targeted
- Make sure what you are writing is geared to your audience. Would you want to read it? Is it helpful? Are the opinions going to encourage debate?
- Make sure it is placed where it can be read. Some empty web 2.0 page is not going to be of any value. Article site can still work if you use the main ones like Ezine. One article to one site!
- Update your blog regularly with the same high quality you would use for guest posting or article sites
- Write content for multiple platforms. You want as many people as possible to read your work. Your peers will add to authority as they read your work, if it is good. Potential clients will read your work to solve a problem, or gain information that they are in need of. If you cover as many bases as possible your authority and informative value increases, and with it your chance of converting potential clients and customers into real ones.
Social media platforms are essential too. Facebook and Twitter can help promote your articles and posts to those who are following or friends with you. Press releases can still be used, as long as you are actually promoting something genuine that has a chance of being picked up. Empty links from the distribution sites are not really valued any more. A link from BBC would be, and will bring in far more traffic than something stuck on PR Buzz, waiting to be read.
SEO as it used to be has expired. It has been reborn into a promotional service. The better you promote an article, guest post or review, the better the traffic, the more authority your site gets, and the better your site and content rank. Links should be used as a gateway from some great content to your site, not as a point scoring mechanism.
By all means utilise directories, if you think they will bring you customers. Go to forums, if you are doing so to drive people to your business site. The real difference is don’t do it just to get a link and nothing else. Search engine optimisation may have died, but it has risen to become a more useful form of Internet marketing.