As the great Peter Drucker, often hailed as the founder or modern management, has once said that business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.
The statement, while bald, holds true to this day. However, while all companies, big or small, do allocate time and money to their marketing efforts, what exactly constitutes ‘effective marketing’ is still very much up for debate.
In recent years, with the rise of online marketing opportunities, search engine optimisation, or SEO, has become a buzzword often cited by marketing agencies as the end-all solution to getting more clients.
But while SEO is very popular, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding what actually makes for a good SEO strategy. Many agencies use this, promising quick results and ‘shortcuts’ to a flood of new leads, but these statements are often nothing but hype.
In fact, even SEO professionals have to keep track of the developments in the industry – Google consistently updates its algorithms to make search engine results more relevant and convenient for the users, and businesses need to keep track of this in order not to fall behind.
Therefore, it’s no shame to have a few (or more) questions about what exactly is SEO, how it can be beneficial to your business, and how to find an SEO services provider that knows what he’s doing.
This article will try to help you get answers to at least some of those questions, so you can see that SEO can be a rather straightforward and reliable marketing approach.
What Is Search Engine Optimisation
It’s not difficult to understand the basic principle behind it. The goal of the strategy is to get your website ranking high for relevant keywords in Google and other search engines.
The misconceptions start to appear when trying to understand the meaning behind this broad definition.
How to find relevant keywords? What to do in order to get your website on Google? How to make it appear on the first page of the search engine results?
Often used buzzwords like backlinks, on-site optimisation or content marketing don’t mean much to the average business owner.
But the good news, you don’t need to know the technical details of SEO – basic knowledge that allows you to choose a competent SEO company is more than enough.
So, the next time you hear someone throw around SEO terms, here are things you should keep in mind to make sure they know what they’re talking about:
No, You Can’t Buy Backlinks Anymore
The older, pre-Google-algorithm-update days of SEO used to be much simpler –you could basically pay to have your keyword-stuffed content, such as articles and press releases, published on various networks, which would immediately bring up your authority status in the eyes of Google and other search engines.
Now, after numerous algorithm updates by Google, trying to buy backlinks will not have any positive effect on your rankings, and will even likely have a negative one, as Google is doubling down its efforts of fighting shady SEO techniques.
But that does not mean that backlinks are unimportant.
Actually, genuinely earned backlinks, when content and news from your business get spread around the web naturally, are now more valuable than ever. Which brings us to our next point that…
Low-Quality Content Is Worthless
If you’ve been using the internet for more than a few years, you surely remember the time when searching for almost anything online resulted in seeing dozens upon dozens of keyword-stuffed articles that did little else but trick the search engines.
These articles and blog posts were specifically designed to improve search engine rankings, but were otherwise worthless and provided little-to-no real value to the actual readers that saw it.
Well, after the recent updates by Google, websites that ranked based on this type of content suffered a major blow in their rankings.
As Amit Singhal from Google’s Webmaster Blog puts it, “Our site quality algorithms are aimed at helping people find “high-quality” sites by reducing the rankings of low-quality content. The recent “Panda” change tackles the difficult task of algorithmically assessing website quality.”
The main criteria for assessing the quality of the content are thedepth of the subject covered, theuniqueness of information presented, provided value, objectivity in presenting the information and general quality of writing.
With the sophistication of the current Google algorithms, the search engine is able to distinguish true value from generic writing better than ever before, which means that there aren’t many loopholes left to ‘trick’ Google into ranking a low-quality website.
In fact, just as the quality of the content…
Site Optimisation is More Important than Ever
Google has taken big steps towards making the user experience as seamless and comfortable as possible. And few things can be more annoying than waiting for a website to load, or having trouble navigating it with a mobile device.
That’s why it’s no more important than ever to make sure that your website is running smoothly and is accessible on all devices, and making sure that a website’s design is responsive should now be considered an essential step of a comprehensive SEO strategy.
On-site optimisation and UX improvements used to be exclusive to the very best SEO specialists, but right now it has become essential for everyone who wants to stay relevant in the rankings. Therefore, if your SEO provider doesn’t address on-site SEO properly, you should probably start looking for a new one.
Long-Term SEO Strategy Will Always Prevail
The truth is, that there will always be self-proclaimed experts offering quick SEO results, trying to somehow trick the search engines into ranking websites.
However, Google will always be right on their heels, and sooner or later these tactics will fail, just as the websites that used them.
The only feasible strategy, which is effective now and will be effective a decade from now, is using the Google Webmaster Guidelines as a resource for ranking for relevant keywords, and that means providing valuable content that gets naturally shared around the web, as well as being easily accessible to website visitors.
And while keeping up with all the ever-changing technical stuff can seem like a daunting task, it will never contradict these basic principles. Once you realise this, your only job is to find SEO services that follow those heuristics and allow you not to survive, but most importantly thrive online.