It was a long and painful death delivered by folks just like you and me. It came in the form of a thousand cuts delivered by the hands of the Google algorithm team. Each new cut was deeper and more painful; with devastating result in search engine rankings for all those that failed heed the multitude of warnings. And, for many who tried to make adjustments, keeping up with the pace of Google changes proved impossible. The final cut was just as deadly. It just took a bit more time to get to the inevitable end.
For years now Google has been preaching about the value of quality content. For years they have been trying to push what they regarded as the best content available on any given subject. They knew they weren’t doing the best job of it but they got better with each new iteration of the algorithm and each refined the results they delivered.
The world turned to Google in increasing numbers as the search engine of choice because the search results they presented were measurably better and improving.
During this same evolutionary period, SEO consultants went about trying to figure out how to get into the heads of the algorithm engineers. They tried to determine what length of article worked best. They looked to identify what density of keyword phrases was acceptable. They looked at backlinks and sought to model factors like type, count and anchor text so they could emulate some form of “Best Practice”. They were working hard but doing little more than treading water.
A funny thing happened on the way to the forum
Oddly enough, as Google worked to create a search engine that delivered their ideal search results and marketers worked on ways to gain top search engine rankings the rest of the world headed in a different direction.
We didn’t stop looking to Google when we needed to search for things but it has stopped being our exclusive search resource. Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and many other social sites, where people we know and trust are increasingly found, are becoming a more important search resource. Getting advice from these trusted resources will always trump anything the search engines can offer because it comes from people we already consider credible authorities.
So, what’s it all mean?
The funny thing is, Google saw this coming and that’s exactly why they looked to push marketers to build content that helped build trust and that is still the right way to go. For any marketer that wants to ensure maximum traffic to their sites, building valuable content is the only way to get the right traffic in ever increasing volumes.
The smart marketer will focus on building content that gets shared and referenced. In other words, marketers will optimize content to deliver value to their target audience and not for the search engines. In fact, the smartest marketers will forget about the search engines entirely and when they do that another funny thing will happen.
They will wind up at the top of the search results without even thinking about it.
The increase in social activity has actually given Google and others the piece of the puzzle they have always been missing for determining search results. They now have real people voting for the content and content providers that deliver the best answers to the questions being posed. So now when we ask about the best Italian restaurant in Bayonne or the most reliable car repair near East Croydon, Google can use social signals (our votes), to identify who should appear at the top of the search results.
SEO is truly dead and for those marketers that have been or are willing to start focusing on the real needs of their customers, this is fantastic news.
Build great content in various forms. Share it socially and encourage others to share it as well. Work to build your audience and in turn, your reputation as a trusted resource. Do this in memory of SEO and celebrate your new and growing success in the world of online marketing.
Glen Giuffre is a marketer with 30+ years building businesses both in the real and virtual worlds. He founded World Touch Marketing and provides a leading e-commerce solution through www.e-storebuilder.com.