Does SEO Still Exist In 2014?

By: John Elder posted in SEO


Hello good people!

Now that 2013 is dead and buried and we’re well on our way into 2014, many of my shell shocked readers have asked whether or not SEO still exists after so many hostile algorithm updates from the big Google over the last year.

Let’s be honest. 2013 was a rough year for SEO types. They saw their websites get hammered by Google over and over and over again with algorithm change after algorithm change that seemed to punish even the most white hat of SEO techniques.

It’s hard when you do everything right when it comes to ethical SEO, spend years building up a website and its rankings, only to see Google arbitrarily change the rules and your site drop off the face of the planet overnight.

Businesses have been destroyed, utterly, when all of a sudden they find themselves seemingly banished into ranking oblivion for no reason.

It’s hard to keep giving Google the benefit of the doubt here. They say that these updates are meant to fight web spam and keep their rankings current…but the fact remains that Google is squeezing out organic search rankings and replacing them with a combination of more ads, and Google’s own listings.

Which is why it’s hard to keep giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Their actions over the last year have seemed to hit small businesses owners and directly benefit Google’s bottom line…which I guess is what you’d expect from any company who needs to maximize shareholder returns…except Google is supposed to be different. They’re the company with the motto “Do No Evil”, after all.

So where does that leave us? Is SEO dead?

The short answer is, no.

SEO isn’t dead, it’s just changing, and you need to keep up with those changes now more than ever.

So what can you do?

That depends. SEO basics like those I teach in my beginners course “JUMPSTART SEO” are still important and still relevant. You can’t move onto the more advanced SEO tactics that we need in 2014 until you’ve mastered those basics.

But they’re just the start. 2014 is all about changing how you look at SEO…COMPLETELY.

How so?

Well first of all, remove any notion of doing black hat SEO, or even gray hat stuff. No fake link farms, or paid links from now on.

You should still focus a lot of your time on getting links, especially from reputable sources…but you need to do it in a different manner.

Offering compelling reasons for someone to link to your website is the new name of the game. We used to call this “Linkbait”.

I like to use a number of things for linkbait, for instance: a pdf ebook, a video or series of videos, an interesting and unique infographic, etc.

This all falls under the umbrella of CONTENT…and here, CONTENT is still king. Publishing content that people find useful and want to link to is still incredibly important.

Social Media

Another strong factor in the new world of SEO is social media. That used to mean Facebook and Twitter but now can mean a number of things such as Google+, Youtube, Pinterest, and any number of other social networks.

It’s not enough to be active on those social networks, these days you need to be engaged and “all in” when it comes to social media.

Spend time building your user base for all those social networks. Engage with your users, interact with them, answer their posts and tweets. You’ve got to make a serious effort to connect with your users, site visitors, customers etc over as broad a range of social networks as possible.

The more active your social presence is, the more authority your site will have in Google’s eyes, and the better ranking you’ll get.

Blackmail

Sadly, the other major factor you’ll need to consider when it comes to SEO going forward is money…cash…the green stuff.

I have no direct evidence of this…I’ve not run tests…this is just my gut feeling from things I’ve seen over the last six months or so…but Google seems to be giving preferential organic treatment to companies who spend money on Adwords ads.

This seems to translate like this: want a high organic listing? Buy some adword ads for your website.

Is that blackmail? Call it what you want. But it seems like every time Google makes one of these wild eyed algorithm changes that seem to knock hard working small business websites out of their top rankings…Google’s adwords revenue increases because those same small businesses have to do SOMETHING, so they buy ads (as opposed to watching their own revenues plummet for lack of site traffic).

Is that a coincidence? I’ll let you decide. Personally I don’t believe in coincidences.

So What Does It All Come Down To?

Basically, SEO still exists. The basics are still important. Continue to optimize your site based on keywords. Use title tags and meta description tags. Theme each of your website pages around single keywords. And create good content as linkbait.

Cut out all your black and gray hat SEO techniques, don’t buy links or engage in link farm practices.

Engage and expand into Social media with as much energy as you can. The more active you are in those arenas, the better your site will rank at Google.

And finally…pony up and start paying Google their payola. Adwords ads may be expensive, but it’s looking more and more necessary to spend a little cash if you want to keep playing the game.

Talk soon…

-John Elder
The Marketing Fool!

John Elder is an Entrepreneur, Web Developer, and Writer with over 20 years experience creating & running some of the most interesting websites on the Internet. Contact him here.



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