The Rise of SEO in 2016
From an SEO’s perspective, every year we hear that SEO is facing its certain demise, and that practitioners of SEO need to start looking for an alternate source of income. Still, our agency keeps growing with people who are genuinely interested in gaining prominent exposure on the major search engines. Based on personal experience, I am going to have to say that SEO is not going anywhere. In fact, if you were to Google “Steps to a Google-friendly site” which is essentially what all SEO’s are shooting for, you will find that Google encourages SEO. They go on to provide a more in-depth look at what they consider good content for SEO. A
At Adwebvertising we try to cater to the end users that Google is catering to. Experience has shown us that doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do works and is an effective SEO strategy that tends to survive any major algorithm change. And so what is the Adwebvertising’s “secret sauce?” Well, truth be told, we do have some best practices that give us a competitive edge over our competitors in the market and if we told you “we’d have to kill ya.” But seriously, for the most part, we pay attention to the rules and advise that Google gives on how to effectively rank on their search engine.
Catering to the End-user
Of primary importance is catering to the end user. According to Google, your website needs to give your end users the timely and relevant information that your consumers are looking for. According to Google
Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.(1)
This is effective, at least in theory, and is something that we try to do with every site we build and subsequently optimize. The old adage, “Content is king,” seems to be the driving force behind this practice. It goes that if you build good content it will be picked up by Google and served according to how well it meets the perceived need of the individual that typed in the keyword. While this sounds good, it is a lot harder in reality to get content ranked based solely on how well it is written, or how robust your home page is with good content. There are other factors involved. We have to keep in mind that we are dealing with an algorithm here. Algorithms are mathematical equations whose purpose is really boiled down to making a large task more manageable. So, in essence you are catering to the end user by writing good content, but ultimately you are indentured to the algorithm as to whether or not your content sees the light of day on the search engines.
Building..er…allowing good links
An entire subdivision of SEO or what is commonly called off-site or external SEO has been born from the idea that your link structure plays a large part in your ranking on the search engines. Google uses some pretty high-tech methods to determine ranking, and it appears that a critical piece of the puzzle is the number and quality of the links that come back to your page from other sites. According to Google:
Links help our crawlers find your site and can give your site greater visibility in our search results. When returning results for a search, Google uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to display pages that are both important and relevant to each search. Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.” (2)
The focus that Google tells us will have the best impact on our organic link structure is by writing good content that will naturally bring about links to your website. Putting this into practice is a no-brainer for us. We write great content. The challenge is having this great content recognized and then linked to without getting involved at least to some degree in getting that information in front of the right people with the power of the link. Again, we use only the best practices allowed by Google, but we do encourage disseminating that content across as many channels as possible so that it is more likely to get picked up by others and linked to.
There is always a danger crossing over into the realm of black-hat SEO which can earn you manual penalties and get your site sandboxed (or penalized to the point your site no longer shows up in the search engines). Our company actually dissolved a partnership with a company member who wanted to go down the grey/black hat path. At Adwebvertising, we take our responsibility to our clients very seriously and do not tolerate anything that might be deemed as black hat.
SEO, like other professions is a practice
Doctors and lawyers have practices and SEO’s are no different. In medicine there is a whole world of discovery that lays before the physician, and they are constantly in a state of learning and practicing. With law there are principles and precedences that are made as time goes on. Both physicians and lawyers are always honing their skills and learning in pursuit of perfecting their skill or art. (3)
As SEO’s we find ourselves constantly learning and improving our skills by carefully monitoring and reviewing even the most subtle changes that we make to a site. Some seemingly innocuous changes can have serious consequences and learning what to do and not do are important. Being an SEO is one thing, but being a good SEO requires experience. It is reminiscent of a story told by Max Anders that goes like this:
Charles Steinmetz was an electrical engineer of towering intellect. After he retired, he was asked by a major appliance manufacturer to locate a malfunction in their electrical equipment. None of the manufacturer’s experts had been able to locate the problem. Steinmetz spent some time walking around and testing the various parts of the machine complex. Finally, he took out of his pocket a piece of chalk and marked and X on a particular part of one machine. The manufacturer’s people disassembled the machine, discovering, to their amazement that the defect lay precisely where Steinmetz’s chalk mark was located.
Some days later, the manufacturer received a bill from Steinmetz for ten thousand dollars. They protested the amount and asked him to itemize it. He’s sent back and itemized bill:
Making one chalk mark $1
Knowing where to place it $9,999 (4)
The point is simply this: as SEO’s we are in a unique position to help our clients gain the type of exposure that they need to be in a competitive place on the search engines. A good SEO will strive to always be above reproach when it comes to implementing best practices for their clients. Still, it is a practice and requires practitioners to spend countless hours reading and staying abreast to the ever-changing world of search engine optimization and marketing. When you visit a physician or an attorney you are paying for knowledge and experience that you don’t possess. Unlike doctors and lawyers though, SEO’s have no governing accountability and do not require licenses to practice. But those worth their weight in salt will take proactive steps to gain some kind of certifications that show their knowledge. For example, our SEO’s and sales folks are required to have a Google Certification in order to educate our clients on our products and services. We feel that this is a step above many of our competitors who have no platform from which to tout their expertise. In addition, the old adage, “The proof is in the pudding,” speaks volumes to our prospective clients.
To answer the original question
Is SEO dead in 2016? Well, from our humble perspective the answer is overwhelmingly a resounding, NO! It is far from dead, in fact from our experience, SEO is on the rise. With the vast number of businesses realizing the need to reach actively engaged consumers on the search engines, our role in helping them to get there is paramount. The question then becomes who is best able to help these businesses reach their goals. We like to think that we are numbered amongst those who really care about our practices and have the capabilities to do just that. There are some really good SEO’s out there, many of which have influenced our own best practices. The SEO community as a whole is full of really quality people who value others above themselves and are more than eager to share what works best for them and seek to benefit the community collectively. Still there are those out there who are unscrupulous and will take advantage of others. We believe in earning a profit, that is why we are in business, but our profits with a clean conscious, and good night’s rest after a hard days work.
- Steps to a Google-friendly Site https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/40349?hl=en
- Steps to a Google-friendly Site https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/40349?hl=en
- Why do we say that someone “practices” law or medicine? http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/73614/why-do-we-say-that-someone-practices-law-or-medicine
- Story about Charles Steinmetz by Max Anders https://books.google.com/books?id=Y_UViNpgTMgC&pg=PA298&lpg=PA298&dq=Max+Anders+on+Charles+Steinmetz&source=bl&ots=H2jsNSBsh4&sig=3kaM5jBooVnjh8Ka_IKnEkmzX94&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjW8bCojMnNAhUM9YMKHUupB60Q6AEIJDAB#v=onepage&q=Max%20Anders%20on%20Charles%20Steinmetz&f=false
- Image: State Funeral by: KCZJimmy found on http://fantasyarchitect.tumblr.com/post/110238626580/state-funeral-by-kzcjimmy-more-inspiring-fantasy