Since about 2009 the term “SEO” has been misused by individuals and companies alike who decided to sell SEO as a service because of it’s popularity, even without any fundamental knowledge of what SEO really is. This is the point where I think the term SEO was literally, killed.
I talk to small business owners on a daily basis and the theme of of the conversation is consistent. First, most businesses know they need SEO, most of the business I’ve talked to have already tried SEO and have invested literally thousands of dollars into something that produced little to no results and last, most business owners/managers are tired of asking the same question to 10 different ‘SEO Experts,’ and getting 10 completely different answers.
It wasn’t a shock to me that search interest in social media has surpassed SEO in early 2011.
SEO is now, not what we knew it as before – let me explain…
In around 2005, which really wasn’t that long ago, getting higher rankings in search engines was as simple as throwing a few dozen keywords into the keyword meta tag. In 2009, Google nixed that because of the abuse and external factors such as links pointing in started to have greater influence and impact on rankings, soon after, the spammers came out and tactics such as ‘spinning,’ ‘comment spam,’ ‘forum spam,’ and other junk tactics came out of the woods – this is when SEO became very cheap because JOE Smoe could hire this fly by night spamming company for as little as a few hundred bucks a month who would blast out thousands of links and the small business would have almost instant rankings… Google caught on and the small businesses who thought they were onto a good thing we’re literally killed.
The introduction of Google Panda & Google Penguin
Google Panda and Google Penguin in my opinion were the best algorithmic updates to hit the industry with the exception of the thousands of unsuspecting business owners had to take the brunt and financial investment of unknowingly hiring a less than ethical SEO company.
What is SEO today?
First, let’s start with what SEO is not. It’s not magic, it’s not proprietary, and it’s not an instant fix. Believe it or not, I still hear “SEOs,” talking about the important of keyword density, the keyword meta tag and additional tactics that are in fact, by far, out of date… The SEO industry is messed up and I feel it’s important that people like I educate consumers on what SEO really is.
SEO is all about creating natural conversations on the web. This is accomplished by first, having great content and a fantastic website the is clearly aligned with Google Webmaster Quality Guidelines. Second, finding natural links (example: hey, I think this website is really cool, you should all check it out [link]) are a great way to obtain votes, citations etc… from other websites. If you have a really cool product and/or a really cool service, people will find out about it and naturally link to it. Next, social media is more relevant than ever when it comes to your organic strategy so I always recommend to all of my clients, join as many social media sites (quality ones) that you can. For an example, your business should be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.., and it’s important to engage in conversations while casually telling your followers why your business is the best in it’s industry and why you’re special and/or different from your competitors.
As you can see, SEO is much different today then it was in 2005 or even earlier. SEO is not just about good links and content, it’s about conversations online and promoting a quality experience.
When you’re hiring an SEO firm consider this, if it’s cheap and sounds too good to be true, it probably is. SEO is a lot of work, it’s not rocket science but it does take a lot of time and effort to build out a true, legitimate campaign so before you think about hiring a great SEO company, know that it’s an investment.