SEO is Not What it Used to Be

Content BlackboardAre you fixated on achieving a higher page rank for specific search terms? Are you paying someone to create backlinks for you? Those things made sense just a few years ago, but today they are out-of-date. 

SEO has evolved right alongside the internet, which means fast. Initially SEO was about link building, then page ranks, then keyword searches. It will probably be something new again next year. But in the next few paragraphs we'll help you understand what SEO is about today and for the near future.

 

Old SEO was about creating traffic to your website - any kind of traffic. So if you sold diamonds, and you put the meta tag "Marilyn Monroe" in the backend of your web page, then every time someone searched for Marilyn Monroe + Diamonds they came to your page. That might get you tens of thousands of visitors, right? Only, that's probably not what the people using those search terms really wanted. The Search Engine Companies (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) are supposed to provide excellent search results for the people who depend on them, and they can't do that if people keep getting directed to sites they don't want to visit. So the programmers at those companies look for every way website owners invent to game the system, and they run an endgame of their own. What is left? Relevance. New SEO is about creating relevance for searching customers. 

How do you create relevance? By sharing - on your website and in your social media (which are integrated, of course) - content that provides real value to your customers. Are you a designer that sells Art Deco-inspired jewelry? Then perhaps you blog about all things art and architectural from that period. Do you provide custom paint jobs for classic motorcycles? Sponsor a forum on your website that talks about all things classic motorcycle. Are you a jewelry store located in one of the most historic buildings in your town? Perhaps you create a photo gallery of other historic images from your community. The trick is to figure out the things that are meaningful to your customers that are also related to what you have to sell or how you sell it. This is what everyone is talking about when they talk about Content Marketing. 

Old SEO gave pagerank advantage to websites that had a lot of other websites linking to them. So what did people do? They hired link-building services to create thousands of spammy backlinks to their websites. There was no consumer value in that, and the search engine providers shut it down. Today backlinks still matter, but only if they are of high quality. You can't fake these or buy them - they come from building relationships with the owners of other websites and blogs. If you are a flower store that provides fantastic educational information on floral arrangements on your website, you have a good chance of getting wedding bloggers to link to you.

Old SEO was all about keywords. Website operators wanted to own one word. Diamonds. Luxury. Handbag. Harley. Organic. But with millions of new pieces of data hitting the internet every minute (check out this very fun graphic to show you just how much), the value of owning one word became almost nonexistent. Which is why SEO today is concerned with long tail keywords.  A long tail keyword is a very specific keyword search. Why search for "tiger swallowtail butterfly" when what you're really interested in is "how long do tiger swallowtail butterflies remain in chrysalis?" If the blog on your home decorating website contains an article that discusses how to perfectly align wallpaper with repeating patterns, then when a consumer searching for help with a "repeating pattern wallpaper disaster" enters their long tail search on Google, your website will likely turn up. 

SEO today is all about how people engage with your brand, product, or service. That means traffic going back and forth between your website and social media sites, and it also means lots of interaction on your website. SEO today even looks all the way into your website and measures whether or not your web traffic turns into orders. So here's our advice to you.

Create an insanely relevant and interesting website, a website that keeps your target customers coming back just to see what you have to say. There's always more to a business than simply what it has to sell. Find your thing, the thing that is both related to your business and that your customers will find interesting, and create ways (blogs, photo galleries, forums, expanded product descriptions, links to other resources) to talk about it.  Make sure you talk about those things on social media and that your website and social media presence are closely linked. Build relationships with other businesses that can benefit their customers by sending them to you for information and vice versa. This is what Content Marketing is all about, and this is what SEO is based on. Today.