There are few things more hotly debated by digital marketers today than the usefulness and impact of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). On the one hand are those who swear by their ‘fool proof’ techniques of SEO, while on the other hand are those who think that the whole thing is just a waste of time. Regardless of which camp you belong to, no one can really deny that traditional SEO is coming to an end.
It seems, even Google does not really think much of the current search engine optimization methods. The roll out of the Panda update, followed by the equally far reaching Penguin update, makes clear their intentions. Still, we feel, it would be incorrect to declare that SEO is now dead completely; and we’ll tell you why…
The idea behind SEO was simple. Setup your web-page in such a way that it became simple for search engines to catalogue and rank it. Companies like Yahoo and Google wanted to find website pages easily and so they advised marketers do certain things like targeting keywords, writing specific meta descriptions, developing backlinks, etc. But human nature being what it is, the system started getting abused and soon end users were complaining about junk websites glittering with ads occupying plum positions in search results. Google responded by swinging the axe and updated their crawler to ignore the meta keywords.
Enthusiastic marketers and ‘SEO experts’ adapted their strategies to work around this and deployed new tricks to game the search engines on a larger scale. Once again, Google took the lead in responding to the new tactics (such a content aggregation and excessive cross-linking) and last year, the company went to war against content farms that were beginning to dominate keywords with low-quality content pages (remember EzineArticles and eHow?). The latest Panda update from Google has effectively put an end to the business of article directories and since then, the search giant has been telling people to do fresh, original content that users would like to spend time reading.
We believe that today there are two types of businesses that employ SEO: Those who are providing some service or product; and those who are just looking to get people to their website and somehow click on ads. If you belong to the first camp, cheer up – there’s a lot to be gained by doing the right kind of SEO and building a bigger user base. After all, search engines (read Google) remain the primary medium of content discovery.
But it’s very bad news for advertisement driven websites that are heavily optimized for search engines and provide little or no value by themselves. If web-masters don’t care for the content or value that their websites actually produce, then Google is going to pull the plug on them.
Search engines are evaluated on the basis of the relevance of their search results and the accuracy with which they can provide the required information. It’s the trust of their users at stake and none of these companies will want to lose that. So they will regulate SEO and keep in check people’s effort to subvert them.
That makes it clear that SEO is not dead, as long as there are search engines, there will be ways to optimize your websites for them. What’s happening is that SEO is evolving and that will ensure that it stays around for a little while longer.