SEO loopholes are out: good content is the answer
Given the evolution and sophistication of Google's ranking algorithm for organic search, SEO Companies and Marketers alike must build content around their audience's needs rather than trying to outwit search engine algorithms. Once upon a time, Google was at the mercy of SEO, the search engine was pretty easy to exploit and – what's more – it didn't seem to mind. Some keywords here, some metadata there, then sit back and watch the results appear and the sales roll in. That, is a thing of the past.
There was a time when it was quicker and easier to get online results by focusing your website towards search engines instead of human audiences. That time has passed. Google has continued to release sustained updates that tackle these very issues through “Panda”, “Penguin” and other names. Google has shown they are serious when it comes to retaining their top spot in organic search, and are driven by this desire, to deliver relevant results, that aren’t being tricked by old school techniques.
The updates' cumulative effect has been to rule practice after practice out of bounds, so that search results reflect ever more closely whatever it is users really have in mind when they perform a search for these particular keywords.
So the hidden hand behind SEO's evolution is Google realising that it cannot take the loyalty of searchers for granted. Google is not a neutral marketplace for bringing together search users and website providers. It is a market maker, with considerable skin in the game.
For example, there was no a priori reason why guest blogging or exact-match domain names should be penalised. Google chose to do it, so as to define "good practice" and even "search" itself in ways that (happily) coincided with its own interests. But what can you do? The rules change and will continue to change. The reason behind the changes, however, does not.
SEO today, then, is more about content marketing. What that means in practice is long-term success will only come when you try to achieve your goals by meeting the needs of online audiences, not by exploiting some concealed loophole in the rules. Focus on good quality content marketing, and all of a sudden, the results will begin to appear once again.
Google – and all the other platforms that provide search or serve ads – is gathering up all the behavioural clues you leave behind online. They are using this data to create a model of your interests, desires and intentions so as to provide what you want when, or even before, you want it. Our advantage as online marketers is that we are not trying to do this on a global scale and can focus on anticipating and providing that for our specific audiences only. Hence persona profiling-led content marketing is the present and future of SEO.
When you paint a picture of a typical member of your audience, you can build your content and outreach around where such people are found, how they communicate and (just as important) what deters them. And by "paint a picture", I mean construct a data-driven behavioural model illustrating how users find, use and interact with your website.
There will always be rewards for the one who can outwit the algorithm, so keep looking for that loophole by all means. But remember, your success is unlikely to last. In the long run, the surest way to reach your destination is to swim with the tide, and evolve with organic search to focus more on content marketing. This is where you will reap the best rewards in search engine optimisation (SEO).