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What’s What with SEO?

By Hector Cisneros

Having been an online marketer since the early 1990’s I know a thing or two about Search Engine Optimization, otherwise known as SEO.  I know that it’s important to being found on the search engines.  I know that it’s a time-consuming task to keep all your online asset’s SEO up to date.  I also know that companies spend a lot of money needlessly with so called “SEO Experts” who pocket client’s money while doing little or nothing to improve the optimization of client sites.  The problem is that SEO has changed so radically during the past decade that it’s hardly recognizable anymore.  The real question that all business owners should ask any SEO guru before they shell out one red cent is, “What do I get for my money.”

What the heck is SEO today?

In the 90’s, SEO boiled down to four things: Keywords, Meta Tags, and Alt Tags.   Back then, achieving search ranking was relatively simple. You selected your keywords and added them to your content. Then you made sure you correctly filled out Meta and ALT tags before posting your webpages to the top 100 search engines and directories. If you chose your keywords carefully and your website had sufficient keyword density, you soon showed up on page one of search engines large and small. 

New Millennium, New Rules

By the turn of the century, the search engines realized that many SEO firms were gaming the system by stuffing their client’s homepages full of keywords to achieve a high ranking.  They were also tired of other black hat tactics such as creating link farms to provide bogus backlinks to boost rankings.  That’s when the rules changed.  While search engine algorithms that existed in the early years of the new century weren’t capable of detecting the black hat shenanigans that many SEO pros were employing, by 2010, search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing were employing nascent AI to identify and eliminate from the rankings any site that used black hat technology.  This meant that a site could be atop page 1 on Monday, only to be sucked into a black hole on Tuesday. 

By 2010, several other factors began to come into play when it came to optimization.  No longer was the web a one-trick pony where websites were the only way to generate traffic.  Other dominant players soon entered the game with names like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  Blogs and podcasts were also making inroads into cyberspace at this time as well, all of which were soon folded into the SEO scheme of things.  What this meant to business owners large and small was that it was no longer a simple matter of creating an optimized website to generate a page-1 ranking.  Now there were lots of moving parts that had to be greased. Not only did your website need to be optimized, so to did all your other online assets. 

What does it take to make the grade today?

Google has long felt that backlinks from highly respected companies are an indicator of a site’s respectability. That’s because the world’s most popular search engine considers popularity a vote of confidence.  So too is the quality of content provided on any given website.  In some Google educational videos, they state that quality is related to the value others place on the content of a webpage.  Just as with relevance, quality is a popularity contest based on how others perceive and use your content. If a lot of people are reading, commenting, and sharing your content, it’s regarded as high quality. Spammy documents, poorly written content, and documents used to trick people commonly rank low. Even if someone is able to trick, scam, or mislead the search bots for a time, eventually the search engines get wise and those pages wind up being sandboxed or blackballed.

Multimedia Matters.

Even though streaming video, blogs, podcasts, and social posts are barely a decade old, Google pays a great deal of attention to these factors.  In the past relevance and lots of quality back-links were the most important factors.  That means if you want a legitimate shot at page-1, not only do you have to embrace multimedia portals, you have to feed them content on a regular basis.

Mobile Matters

Ten years ago, mobile was a small part of any business’ internet strategy. Today there are more smartphones than computers being used to access the Internet. More importantly, people are using them in large numbers for search, and making buying decisions while mobile. They are checking prices, looking for alternatives, looking to meet up with their friends, picking a venue, buying that special gift, and much more. Google regards mobile-friendliness so important, that they delisted many websites that they considered to have compromised mobility issues.

Does your SEO expert make the grade?

Today, there are many factors that relate to SEO. Before you hire an SEO company, you need to know how many of these factors they plan on addressing before you sign on the dotted line.  If any company isn’t prepared to roll up their sleeves to help you feed content to social networks, blogs and video portals like YouTube on an ongoing basis, then it doesn’t really matter what they do to your website as far as Google is concerned.

However, there is a monkey wrench in everything I have said in this article. The exception has to do with political content.  Today’s A.I. search engine algorithms can be manipulated, heck even directed to censor political speech. These rules are not arbitrary and are generally aimed at conservative and religious groups. In fact, Social Media Giants are actively censoring and suspending social media account of conservative and apps stores are terminating listing agreements with companies that offer conservative apps. So as long as your content is nonpolitical your basically safe, but I am afraid that this is only the beginning of the direction these companies are headed in. 

In this article, I explored where and what SEO once was and how it has evolved into the content marketing model we have today. I have defined the most important elements of SEO today and have explained many of the sub-elements that make up the important search. These changes have ushered in a new age for search marketing where search ranking is more dependent on multimedia content than on the use of keywords, meta tags, and web page mechanics. Today it’s time to concentrate on producing quality, useful and timely content instead of trying to game the system. Following this model will ensure your success and keep your ranking high regardless of what Google does next.

If you found this article to be useful, share it with your friends, family, and co-workers. If you feel you have something to add or just want to leave a comment do so below.  If you would like a free copy of our book Internet Marketing Tips for the 21 Century click here and fill in the form on the page. It has been my pleasure sharing with you our view of the current state of search engine marketing. I look forward to reading your comments. Thanks again for reading and sharing.   

That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

Hector Cisneros is a partner, COO, and Social Media Director for W Squared Media Group based in Jacksonville, FL. You can connect with him on TwitterFacebookGoogle+LinkedIn, and YouTube. He is also the co-host of Blog Talk Radio’s “Working the Web to Win,” where he and Carl Weiss make Working the Web to Win simple for every business. Hector is a syndicated writer for EzineOnline and is an active Blogger, (including ghost writing). He is a published author of two books, 60 Seconds to success (on sale at Amazon and B&N) and Internet Marketing for the 21st Century which you can get free by clicking on the link at WorkingTheWebToWin.com. 

1 comment:

  1. Don't buy a pig in a poke. If your SEO pro can't explain in plain English what he or she is going to do for the money, find another expert.

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