Is Search Engine Optimisation a Dying Discipline?

For many years now Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has been used whilst attempting to improve the search ranking of a website in Google (and other search engines’) search results. However, the principles of SEO have gone through changes as Google updates the algorithm that it uses to rank sites for a given search. Following these updates over the last few years there are many that believe that SEO is becoming a thing of the past and that the work effort required to beat Google search has become unattractive due to the cost.

It is true that the changes Google has made have led to a dramatic change in SEO. Learn about these changes and the new approach you need to take.

SEO in the Past

To fully appreciate the difference in SEO we must first look into how it used to work. Previously there were a number of loopholes for less competitive terms that could be utilised to allow a website to raise its position. For example, keyword stuffing was a common technique used by many sites; this involved using certain keywords related to the topic of the site as frequently as possible to increase their rankings on a Google search. Furthermore having a keyword within your domain name or an exact match domain name would often help your site to the top pages of Google search results.

Ultimately with the SEO of the past you did not need to focus as much on the quality of your site for it to appear highly in a Google search, the use of some underhand techniques would sometimes be an effective substitute.

SEO Now

The algorithm that Google uses to rank pages that appear when you search for something has been altered, improved upon and added to many times in recent months.  Recently the algorithm has seen more changes than during any other period in Google’s history. The purpose of these changes is to improve the quality of Google searches and to provide relevant and useful results that the user is looking for.  In order for your website to be successful on Google, you need to focus on the overall quality of your site, as most of the loopholes have been firmly closed!

These changes mean that now, if you want to carry out effective SEO, there are far more areas that require attention. The two main changes to Google’s algorithm are known as “Penguin” and “Panda.”

Penguin analyses the links that are connected with a site and checks them for quality. This means that fake or poor quality links are no longer useful for improving a site’s search ranking. Therefore any links that you find for your site should be from quality websites that are relevant to your site.

Panda, on the other hand, reviews the content of your site and assesses the quality of it, to ensure that the results at the top of the rankings are not only relevant to the search made but are also useful, easy to navigate and spam free. This has always been a factor in Google’s ranking system; however, Panda presents the biggest and most important development in content analysis to date. Whilst this may lead to your website requiring more work, having a quality website that is fast and responsive will mean that when people use your website they will stay on it and will also be more likely to return.  It’s a win, win!

Where Can I Get My Visitors From Now?

Whilst SEO is still going to be a useful tool for marketing, it is no longer as effective on its own. To achieve the best results with SEO it should be used in conjunction with other techniques, such as Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns and Social Media Marketing (SMM), as part of a broad promotion and conversion strategy.

PPC campaigns have now become a far more important aspect in the marketing of your business.  It allows you to raise your search visibility, especially in areas of high competition, as well as giving you the ability to fine tune the searches that bring up your advert through the use of keywords and negative keywords.  These are used by Google to determine whether or not to show your advert when a search is made.

SMM through sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, has become a more prominent tool for businesses. Whilst not appropriate for all businesses, using social media can be effective for increasing your company’s online visibility and building brand identity.

So is SEO a Dying Discipline?

No it is not; however, it is now very different due to the changes that Google have made over the past few years. Whilst previously SEO could be used on its own to greatly aid in the promotion of a website, business or company; it now requires a combination of complimentary strategies. The main areas that should be focused on are SEO, PPC and SMM. A combination of these three areas is probably the best way to market your business. However,  this is a far more involved and time consuming process.

If you have any questions about adopting a more holistic approach to promoting your business, please contact me at [email protected]

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Karen King
I have been working in website promotion for the last 15 years and am now a Website Marketer at web2market. I am a qualified Google Adwords professional and can help advise on getting the most out of your digital campaigns. My experience includes both sponsored and unsponsored website marketing, Google Maps and link building.