SEO is dead: long live SEO

small__7460433450Google updates, whether we like it or not, usually have an influence on how and what we write – especially for business. To find out just what changes are taking place now, I asked digital business expert James Coakes to share his views on it and how it is affecting content creators…

The latest Google update has started to roll through the index and many are questioning whether SEO is dead. Some in the industry are removing SEO from their names (SEOMOZ became MOZ at the same time as Penguin 2 arrived).

As long as there are search engines and those search engines work by producing an index which can be optimised, then SEO is not dead. It is, however, very unfashionable at the moment and people are looking to distance themselves from it and redefine themselves as something more plausible.

Old SEO: as popular as a root canal

Old style SEO is certainly no longer viable. Google has always encouraged people to create content and add a link to their site. The result is an internet that is 99% rubbish. People outsourced content creation and wanted it in massive quantities – shortcuts were taken. Everything Google has been doing recently has been an attempt to solve this problem and bring quality back to the results.

The end result will be an internet of two neighbourhoods – the good one where businesses are found and a shady seedy one where businesses who have done bad SEO sit shoulder to shoulder with casinos and sex shops.

Good news for writers, at long last

Copywriters have been complaining for years that people aren’t prepared to pay for what they do; but all that is changing now. If you want to be in the good neighbourhood you are going to need those skilled wordsmiths who can turn your content into gold.

The best way to think of the situation is that old style SEO has died and a new version, which looks a lot more like traditional PR, is emerging. This is a place of quality content produced on quality, credible websites.

’Snackable content’ – food for thought?

small__6637805197Much of the talk is about content at the moment but people have short attention spans, particularly on the internet. One of the buzzwords doing the rounds is ‘snackable content’ – that is content that is appealing and can be taken in as small bites.

Having a good writing style is essential to produce this as it will lead to engagement (low bounce rate and higher time on page) and shares.

A simplistic view of SEO so far is:

Volume of visits, ratio of words and links = was SEO.1.

SEO.2 started to take such things as bounce rates and time on page into account. The semantic use of language started to come into play too; this means that the word ‘yellow’ when in proximity to ‘banana’ gave value if the search was for a banana as a fruit. It also gave value to synonyms, so in my former line of work ‘team building’ and ‘team bonding’ became associated.

Now SEO.1 has been devalued but SEO.2 is still relevant. However, SEO.3 has come along in the form of the human algorithm. Social media shares are now a significant indicator of the quality of content. They are pretty much the new links.

A new, shiny internet will emerge; less frustrating and more effective. For users this can only be a good thing.

HTWB James CoakesJames Coakes is Managing Director of LensDigital, an exciting new UK-based company creating niche websites for specific industries where quality of content is paramount.

While you’re here, don’t forget to stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family – from just $2.50

photo credit: SEOPlanter via photopin cc
photo credit: jeffreyw via photopin cc

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  1. A great post, and welcome to the “is seo a dirty word?” conversation… I am glad we are on the same page of SEO is dirty, long live digital marketing 🙂

    • Hi Andy and thanks for looking in. I have to say I won’t miss those dreadful link farms, keyword-stuffing and all the other sh*t that was getting in the way of high-quality writing online. I expect James Coakes will be in soon and we’ll see if he agrees that SEO could be the next f-word….!

      • It’s tempting to say that it doesn’t matter what you call something, what’s important is the motivation. However, Search Engine Optimisation is so associated with gaming the algorithms that it must be time for a different and more professional phrase. Digital Marketing fits the bill and comes at a time when it’s becoming much more a part of traditional marketing rather than something not understood, feared and outsourced.

        • Thanks for that, James – would you say that after the SEO novelty has worn off, digital marketing is now taking its rightful place in the overall marketing mix?

  2. I’ve seen recent case studies that show the old spammy link building that google is trying to distance its algorithms from are still working whilst social likes tend not to have much of an impact. The social signals that do matter are social comments with links and high levels of engagement. Which makes sense as simply getting social likes or links with no engagement would be too easy to game again. I do agree though that they are focusing more on good quality content, and also recent articles over older content.

    • I especially like your last sentence, Francis – “they are focusing more on good quality content…” Those of us bloggers/writers who do put a lot of effort into creating original, worthwhile content have been devalued and sneered at by the link farmers, keyword stuffers, article spinners et al, for far too long now. Thanks for commenting and come back soon!

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