In case you missed it: you can stop trying to suck up to search engines, because content that leans on old cheap SEO tricks won’t get any kind of results that reward their creators. In their place, legitimate SEO practices have evolved that increase brand and content visibility while serving as indicators of value for consumers.
Exciting things are happening in the world of digital marketing. Google search results are becoming much smarter thanks to topic modelling and semantic connectivity, and we’re seeing direct answers to our questions, such as “Who killed Tupac” or “What does Kim Kardashian really do for a living?” Additionally, web marketers are focusing more on creating quality content in addition to optimising for technical SEO to boost rankings. Meanwhile, search engines are also rapidly learning how best to reward the sites that create valuable content. So, as opposed to littering your content with keywords in the ideal locations, search engines now place their focus on great content.
Intuitive? You bet! As a matter of fact, search engines are slowly becoming a better judge of content than humans.
But wait, what do we mean by ‘SEO’?
The term ‘SEO’ can be tough to grasp because it quickly gets separated from what it stands for: optimising your website and content for the web. Thanks to its growth, SEO now refers to building an infrastructure for your business and its online presence. SEO represents a set of best practices that websites should use to lay a foundation in the world of online commerce. But because search platforms continue to evolve, the best practices continue to be affected. Consequently, SEO functions are a moving target, with marketing professionals constantly faced with changing their practices to stay at the forefront.
SEO on its own does not guarantee long-term success. Many of the dominant SEO-savvy brands from 15 years ago have since fallen to the wayside. And years from now, the ingredients of ideal SEO will change; that is the nature of the practice.
Many small business owners will continue to ask, “What is SEO, and how can it help my business?” At first blush, the answer for today’s online climate seems the same as it was 15 years ago. But giving it a closer look shows something different: SEO in 2015 is built for the long haul.
SEO in 2015: Writing for humans
The goal of search engines has always been to show the most relevant results for a user’s search prompt. While finding articles that contain many of the keywords being searched for may help find a relevant result, it may not be the best or most insightful content on the topic. An indication of poor user experience is reflected by a user quickly bouncing off the site, without taking the time to read what’s there. Users can see through an article written specifically to gain search engine results. They’re not going to waste their time reading a piece of content that isn’t even intended to be read by other humans.
Anyone can create web content with a smattering of keywords, but it takes talent to create a piece of content that informs and excites people. You want to be able to bring people greater insight on the topic they searched for. You want to be able to teach people something from the years of experience you’ve acquired in your industry. Ultimately, your content should encourage people to share and engage with it.
And the future of SEO?
Perhaps SEO will evolve, until it turns into something that has nothing to do with SEO. The truth is, every time Google adds another level of intelligence to their ranking algorithm, the traditional SEO game gets less effective. Every time a new media format takes a chunk of the world’s attention, traditional SEO gets harder. Every time the internet becomes less of a tool that we use and more of a natural part of our lives, reactionary strategies, like SEO, become a bit more obsolete.
Look, we’re already good at stomping down content that isn’t relevant or valuable. We’re going to keep getting better. And, some day most of the content created using traditional SEO tactics is going to get stomped down.
Web content strategy simply cannot be the zero sum game called ‘Hack the Algorithm’.
It’s time to start thinking differently about being found…
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Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.