Whether you’re a big or small business owner, with a physical location or not, you need a website for your presence to be found online, otherwise you do not exist in the eyes of your customers. Back in those days, search engine optimisation (SEO) played a major role on which sites appeared in the search results, which is why some businesses made unwise decisions then to increase their Google ranking with spammy SEO tactics.
However with the recent algorithm change implemented by Google, the old way of keyword stuffing your way to the first page of search engines is now long gone, and sites which utilized tactics like those were punished so heavily by Google’s Panda and Penguin updates in 2011 and 2012 that a lot of them just disappeared entirely from the search results.
Since then, businesses have tried cleaning up their act, or failing that starting anew with a brand new site, and found that the old SEO strategies which worked for them before have became a baggage now.
SEO Yesterday and Today
Up until two years ago, people used the Internet primarily to search for information. People went online to look for something, so they would usually go to search engines like Google or Yahoo first to type in their queries. Until last year, Google was the #1 destination search site worldwide.
This high reliance on search results meant that businesses had clamored to be on the first page (not a lot of people would continue looking beyond three to four links on the first page of search). Rather than make quality content (which can take some time to produce results), they hired crafty SEO workers to overload their pages with keywords and produce thousands of backlinks; all to fool Google into thinking that their website was authoritative.
From mid-2011 to present day, however, Google has been kicked off the top spot by Facebook, the leading social media network. The purpose of the Internet has clearly changed. From just being a place to search for information, the interwebs are now a social arena, where people meet up, talk, and hold seemingly endless virtual conversations.
Google has recognized the signs of the times and is now striving as well to get a slice of the social media pie with their Google+. It remains to be seen, though, whether it will become as popular as Facebook in the future.
SEO and Social Media
With the evolution of Internet use, the way SEO is achieved has also changed. People do not just rely on searches anymore. They turn to friends and their friends’ friends for sources of information.
Google and the other search engines are listening. They have focused their algorithms on how people share things online with their networks. With a plethora of tools, all shares and likes from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg, and Pinterest, are now being recorded. The more shares a webpage gets, the higher it is ranked in the search results.
Google is also using your friends’ and your contacts’ recommendations to suggest websites for you. It means that when you search for something while still being logged in at Google, you will receive results that your friends have liked or shared.
What Lies Ahead for Search Engine Optimisation in 2013
So, rather than being dead, SEO is just being reinvented. True, backlinks and keywords still confer authority, but how this is accomplished has evolved. Quality content has become the name of the game, as the better your content is, the more it will get shared by others.
As a business owner, it is a must for you to join the social media revolution in order to keep up with the changes on how the Internet is being used by your customers. Set up a blog, establish a Facebook fan page, and get a Twitter account. Starting with these tools, you will have a direct connection to your customers, and hopefully get found more easily online.