As the sun is setting on 2011 and as the dawn of 2012 approaches the SEO industry as a whole seems to be discussing in a frenzy regarding the core issues of its existence with true dignity, respect and meaningful existence.
We all know SEO means Search Engine Optimization that means optimizing for search engines but the fact is that Google practically monopolizes the search scene so the changes, updates and modifications in the Google algorithm and search results are of high priority for all search industry professionals and website owners.
According to Amit Singhal in 2011 there have been more that 500 updates in the search algorithm and all these updates have been aimed at achieving better quality results for the user by penalizing low quality content and attacking the link spam.
The major changes , updates and modifications announced by Google this year have been as follows:
- Panda/Farmer – February 23, 2011
- Panda 2.0 – April 11, 2011
- Panda 2.1 – May 9, 2011
- Panda 2.2 – June 21, 2011
- Panda 2.3 – July 23, 2011
- Panda Goes Global (2.4) – August 12, 2011
- Panda 2.5 – September 28, 2011
- Panda “Flux” – October 5, 2011
- Panda 3.1 – November 18, 2011
· The +1 Button – March 30, 2011
· Schema.org – June 2, 2011
· Expanded Sitelinks – August 16, 2011
· Pagination Elements – September 15, 2011
· Freshness Update – November 3, 2011
· The integration of Webmaster Tools with Google Analytics, reflecting SEO data (queries, landing pages, geographical data)
· Google Analytics social data (engagement, action and pages )
· Google Analytics real-time data ( this data shows you what is happening on your website as it happens )
With algorithms being updated with such frequency and the ranking factors varying with the changing times one can easily understand the challenge of achieving search engine presence and then maintaining it.
The Panda update focused on improving the search results by rewarding original content with high standards of quality .
The other updates and modifications focused on the ownership of content. Integration of social and search was proved when Google introduced the +1 button and also launched Google+, its own social networking site and went one step further by reflecting all this data in Google Analytics.
I am sure all these changes will be perceived differently by website owners and search industry professionals depending on their field of operation and what elements of the web they have a focus on, for getting meaningful traffic to their website depending on budgets and beliefs.
But, one thing is for sure that the search engines are aiming for better quality results by attacking the content farms , link farms and the spammers and the search behavior of the users is also evolving . The search options in the search results are also increasing trying to cater to the user in a more specific way.
Search engines are a source of targeted traffic having a very high potential for business opportunities whether it is advertising on search engines by getting listed under the paid listings after paying a high bid amount or whether it is ranking on organic search results after working on the SEO of your site. But, both these options need a unique and a different approach when you include them in your online marketing strategies.
The paid listings are a source of income for the search engines and as search engines are not charitable institutions the importance to paid results is quite justified. But again, search engines are not paid directories either, hence quality organic search results are the true character of a search engine, the organic search also cannot be undermined. As a result the search engines have to achieve that optimum balance between both the results. Google has always given a lot of information about SEO on their official blogs, webmaster videos, forums, discussions on blogs and by announcing the launch of every product by trying to have the maximum outreach via live events.
Lately there have been many blog posts on whether SEO needs to known by any other name after the integration of social and search. There are even blogposts on how the so called big companies are resorting to spam and black hat for gaining and maintaining their rankings and search engine presence.
Firstly, I think the very reason such topics have come out in the open for discussion it proves that the search industry especially the SEO industry is on the verge of transformation and is finally come of age and has evolved to carve a meaningful niche of its own on the online scenario.
Instead of searching for a new term for SEO , I think the right approach to SEO and its true inherent meaning needs to be put forward not only to the budding SEOs but also every website owner whose site we optimize. As this will sow the seeds for the right reputation of the SEO industry which is at a stake mainly due to the link spam.
Infact this year we were approached by one of the so called well known SEOs for outsourcing their SEO projects. When we delved further into the project details they told us that they will be sending us the list of sites where they want us to make submissions to create back links for the sites managed by them. When we told them that we do not undertake such tasks as we work on the on-page factors of the site, help create a local online profile and then train the client’s team for engaging in social media and help them work on the natural link building methods in a qualitative way involving them at every step. This reply made that SEO tell us that this will make us earn more than what we normally are earning. But we refused to go ahead with their proposal as it was totally against our SEO ethics and Mission. This made him furious and he said that the part of the world we are working there is a pressure on high rankings and quick results hence all this talk about ethics should not be discussed with him.
The reputation of the SEO industry is getting tarnished because of two main reasons:
· False promises by people who want to make a fast buck by calling them SEOs
· Very high expectations of website owners
This very pressure of quick results which SEOs commit to their clients or vice versa is the root cause of the bad reputation of the SEO industry . Hence we do not need a new name but the right approach towards SEO to reach out across the web.
Yes, we have to stop comparing PPC and SEO. Though PPC also operates on the edifice of keywords and search engines, it has its roots on the propensity to pay and the bid amount of the targeted keyword. The PPC campaign needs to operate keeping budgets in mind. SEO on the other hand requires a different mindset altogether, SEO is about overall search engine algorithms, the technical and content quality of your website and the willingness to patiently develop the overall web presence by the website owner to get targeted traffic in the long run. This difference has always been there inherently.
SEO has always meant to enhance the quality of the website in such a way that the search engine spiders and the visitors can read what they are finding on the web page and the content adds value to their search. Hence the SEO works on the code behind the page to cater to the bot and the SEO also works on the content on the page to cater to the visitor. SEO also contributes to the web eco system by adhering to the technical aspects of the site like the Page load speed, 301 redirects to avoid duplicate content issues, removing unwanted content from the search engine index, etc .
Sometime back we had written a blogpost on : Why SEMPO showing a decline in SEO spending in 2011 is good news for the SEO industry.
As according to us this indicates that finally the website owners are realizing that once the site is optimized for search engines, then in order to future proof the presence, they need to focus on quality web presence which is reflected in the increase in the social media spending . This further reflects the integration of Social media and Search. This attitude shows that there is a shift from the focus of just building links to developing quality content and then sharing it on social media for natural link building – which I am sure is a step ahead towards the right attitude to SEO.
So SEO is about the improvement of overall quality issues of the site , quality footprints across the web for natural links and there by achieve high ranking as an offshoot.
Google clearly says SEO is not spam and infact they have been quite open in offering the SEO Starter Guide, SEO Guidelines and have a plethora of information on the Google blogs and forums.
It is the SEOs who have to carve a niche for themselves by letting SEO retain its unique essence and gain good reputation for this industry else the SEOs itself will be responsible for the doom of this industry .
Lets say Bye to 2011 and a very big Hi to 2012 by having a focus on the true meaning of SEO and work on natural methods of earning links by trying to add more and more value to the site holistically.