We saw a lot of changes in the SEO world last year, and it’s safe to say that the trend will continue for the foreseeable future. Let’s get real, though. With all the changes, not all that much is changing. I realize that statement is pretty charged, and some of you may disagree, but it all boils down to this: Google is wrapping up loose ends and closing loopholes, but past and future quality work will be rewarded.
Links – both number and source – were Google’s best indicator of authority, but that is changing with a content revolution. Primitive link building tactics like posting to irrelevant directories and guest posting unoriginal content with any average Joe Blogger needed to be tossed out of the window. SEO is evolving. We might call it “content marketing” now, but the goal for many is the same as before: earn (good) links to get a leg up on competition. Now we are just paying more attention to how instead of how many.
It’s a constant process of refining the algorithm. Matt Cutts said it best when guest blogging as we knew it was announced dead: “Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains.”
The same applies to just about any aspect of SEO. Need I bring up meta keywords? Once a useful and effective white hat tactic quickly added up to more spam than consumed in the state of Hawaii each year. How about directory submissions? What was meant to reward people for extending networks and emphasizing the “web” part of our cherished www turned into a link sharing free-for-all with irrelevance galore.
There’s been a lot of talk about intent and how to measure it, but the bottom line is to produce fresh, quality content and you will be in the clear. The priority is no longer the link itself but what garners links. Good content is more likely to be shared from your site or featured on someone else’s. Our focus needs to be on what is being produced rather than where it ends up. Nathan Safran sums it up well, noting that the goal in Google’s shift is to keep thin content from having the same value as deep content.
Moving into a new age of SEO means strategies need to be adjusted and old tactics must be revisited. Emails addressed “Dear Sir/Madam” won’t fly; get personal and get unique. In that vein, I’m not going to give you a list of the top 20 ideas for your content marketing, but a couple of my favorite resources are Link Building Strategies from Jon Cooper of Point Blank SEO and the recent article on Moz Filthy Linking Rich.
It’s all about having a more authoritative site than your competition. Building links for the sake of building links is a thing of the past. Google is cutting out the spam. There has been a major shift in SEO during the past couple years. As SEOs, we need to adapt or become irrelevant. Now it’s about link earning. Time to roll up your sleeves and get dirty. Link earning takes real time and effort, but isn’t that how the chaff is separated from the wheat?