Search Engine Optimization, better known as SEO, which is the art and science of getting found on Google, has changed. It's not your grandma's SEO anymore.
Gone are the days when a well-optimized website accompanied by traditional attempts to improve rankings do the trick (at least not as well as they used to). Now, it's all about content and conversation.
Who said so? Google!
In her article at FastCompany magazine digital marketing specialist Veronica Fielding explained why two recent changes in Google’s algorithm – popularly referred to as Panda and Penguin – dramatically impact how the search engine weights returns.
"Both the Panda and Penguin updates contained very clear messages for marketers: stop focusing on technology and tricks and start focusing on people. If your website appeals to people, it will appeal to Google’s algorithms too," said Fielding.
I’ve always said that, when creating content, you had to appeal to two audiences: people and search engine spiders. Now, writing for one (people) will help you with the other (spiders).
That should come as a welcome relief because it alleviates (to some extent) the need to focus on technology. Now, you can focus more on people.
Face it, Google is smarter now. It understands the semantics of human interaction that are fostered on blogs and social networks better than it used to. With Panda and Penguin it has factored those into search engine returns much more heavily.
What to do? What to do?
Don’t worry. The sky is not falling. The answer is simple: be human. Well, be human and create content that appeals to people (your customers and prospects), then syndicate that content to social networks and engage with fans, followers and connections (and whatever term Pinterest uses) to facilitate conversations around that content.
Fielding provides these recommendations:
- Facilitate conversations with fans on your Facebook page.
- Share tweets about topics of interest via Twitter.
- Uploading shareable videos to your YouTube channel optimizes your brand as well as your website.
- Pin and Repin interesting visuals on Pinterest.
- Participate in groups, answer questions, and post company updates on LinkedIn.
- Share information on Google+.
If you place value on ranking well in search engines, but have questioned the value of social media engagement up to now, question no more. From an SEO standpoint, social media engagement is a requirement.
Fielding concludes the article with this advice: "So rather than asking yourself, 'How do I optimize my website to better rank with search engines?' ask, 'How can I optimize my brand so that it’s a sought-after participant in relevant conversations?' Answering that will bring you top rankings on the search engines and much, much more.”
A version of this article was first published in The Social Media Handyman blog.