These days many online marketing companies are proclaiming that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is dead. The idea is that there are so many websites out there it is almost impossible to rank for good keywords that relate to your business.
This is only partially true.
These days, it is harder to rank for competitive keywords. That is a fact. However, SEO is not dead. It is just changing – rapidly and will continue to do so as long as Google is obsessed with providing the best personalized searches on the planet. Here’s just a few of the things that you need to consider if you want to have a chance at ranking for any search phrase:
1. Google rewards quality content with high rankings. One factor that indicates “quality” is the length of time a visitor remains on your site. If visitors enjoy your content they will hang around for a while. If they come back again…even better!
Once upon a time, Google’s search algorithm focused on back-links and keyword density, as well as other specific quality indicators. However, now the focus is on the user experience. A site can have lots of back-links, and key-phrase rich content, but it still will not rank. Now Google is more likely to rank you well if your viewers spend a lot of time on your page, or site in general. Google measures all of this data.
Any time you do something that provides more value to the consumer, they will reward you with better results. If you have high quality site content that answers a real question that a viewer has, they are much more likely to trust your website / brand. There is a good chance that if a product is mentioned that solves their problem they may just buy it from you!
2. Google Likes Brands
If you search for a generic product or service on Google you will see that “Big Brand” websites dominate the top results for most searches. Just try searching for “gifts” at Google. In the top results you will see top brands such as Amazon, Nordstroms or Indigo. This will be slightly different depending on where you are located, but it is clear that brand websites rank the best. Google is always gathering data on this from other websites, and social media. This data is used to help to give people the best search results possible. Is your brand being mentioned on social media, or on other high profile websites? To rank against stiff competition, you’d better be mentioned somewhere good. The more places the better. In short, in order to rank better people should be talking about you. This is just good branding.
3. Think in terms of “Topics” or “Themes” not in terms of keywords or keyphrases.
Google likes high quality content because your readers like high quality content, and they keep Google alive. What is high quality content? Think about an essay that you wrote in college or even in high school. There is a logical structure to it. The data is organized in a predictable pattern that makes it easy for the reader to read and understand. There is nothing Google likes better and will reward more than content that users can understand, and read from top to bottom.
Here is what won’t work; an article that is scraped together from a bunch of content that is downloaded from a bunch of ranking sites. Unless it is rewritten by a good writer to become good content, it will not work. You have probably read some of this content when you did Google searches in the past. However, you don’t see much of it anymore do you? That is because when a reader finds this kind of “gibberish” they leave. Google knows this. If they were referred by Google and they leave quickly, Google knows. If it this happens multiple times, Google knows. Bye, bye [formerly] ranking page.
4. Focus on a niche
If you want to do well in today’s world of SEO, focus on one niche. Google prefers topic-specific sites because that’s the kind of site that we all seek out and use when we are looking for information on products, services or to solve our problems. Think about it…if you are interested in woodworking, will you go to Etsy.com, or will you visit PopularWoodworking.com? One of these is a niche, the other isn’t. See the difference?
SEO still works. It just isn’t as simple as it used to be. The days of stuffing a few keywords in a page and ranking on google are long gone. There are simply too many people looking for those free clicks.
As we go forward, ranking for valuable search terms will become even more difficult. It will also be harder to get people to click on the results once they see them. This means that if you want to pursue free SEO traffic, you must think beyond simple keyword stuffing and link buying. Social media and other “online mentions” of your brand will play more an a significant role in the rankings that Google chooses to give you. As competition continues to rise what is said about your brand around the Internet will be just as important as what is said on your site.