Upside-Down Thinking by Patric Fransko
by Patric Fransko
May 13th, 2015

Is SEO Dead? Optimize Your Search Results, Part 1

One of the main topics on my clients’ minds is search engine optimization, aka SEO. What a client’s really asking when they inquire about SEO is, “How do I show up on page one of relevant Google search terms?” That question is becoming much more difficult to answer, and it is now more complicated than a simple SEO strategy.

SEO isn't dead - just evolving.

SEO isn’t dead – just evolving.

First, let’s define what SEO is and explain what it’s designed to do. SEO is the process of optimizing a website so that search engines read the content that site contains and rank that website high up in users’ search results. The more closely-matched the content on the site is to the users’ search terms, the higher the site will rank in the search results.

Two SEO Strategies

There are two basic SEO strategies that companies can utilize in order to climb the search rankings and display on page one. The first requires having a solid website that enables easy indexing of the page along with content and coding utilized that will increase the site’s relevance to specific keywords. The second involves tactics that some use to try to “game” the system, tricking search engines into giving the website a higher ranking than it would otherwise deserve.

The first strategy of simply creating a solid, relevant website is an absolute necessity that every company needs to implement. This enables search engines to know your site’s purpose and directs users searching for your particular content to you.

However, you need to beware of the second strategy. These tactics usually only yield temporary positive results and can actually hurt you in the long run. Google and the other major search engines are constantly tweaking the algorithm they use to deliver relevant results. Their number one goal is to provide the most relevant search results to their users. SEO experts looking to drive results that a website would not typically achieve is frowned upon by search engines. They are constantly changing their algorithms to eliminate these strategies.

Beware of Backlink Building

A great example of a gaming tactic is the practice of backlink building. Several years ago, the search engines were set up to give a higher relevance rating to a site that had many sites linking back to it. The thought was that any site that had so many people linking to it must be more authoritative than one with fewer backlinks. So, what did the “SEO experts” do? They created tons of backlinks for sites to increase search ranking. It didn’t matter whether it was an authoritative or relevant backlink, they just wanted to create as many as possible. This had a temporary positive effect on website search results for the sites that engaged in this activity. However, once the search engines figured out what was happening, they changed the algorithm to stop rewarding sites that have unrelated backlinks. In fact, the newer algorithms will actually punish a site for having unrelated back links and trying to use this technique to produce artificial search results.

To make a long story short, if you’re thinking about “gaming the SEO system,” just don’t. It’s likely to hurt you more than help you in the end.

Now, you might be asking, in addition to making sure that the website is built properly to be search engine friendly, what can be done to improve search rankings on my site? We’ll get to that in Part 2 of this series, but now for the initial question: Is SEO Dead?

The answer is a qualified no. Proper SEO, as described above, is absolutely necessary.

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  1. SEO is dead, all of the original SEO methods are obsolete and now it’s a matter of sheer popularity that determines your “optimization”. If you want to be popular you need to dump thousands of $$$ into advertising. The little guy can’t start an internet business anymore. Thanks Google.

  2. Can’t wait for the second part of this post!
    SEO is not dead, and never will be as long as search engines exist. For those who say that SEO is dead, are clearly ill-informed or just want some attention.

  3. Good article. I see you mentioned the dangers of building a backlink profile full of unrelated links. I assume you’re going to show that backlinks are still necessary but that they must be both high-quality and relevant in your next installment? Thanks again and thanks for the heads up about mobile-geddon a while back there.

  4. I think Google algorithm is not performing in the best interest of humans serching for the companies with the most relevant information in a particular industry.
    These guys are too clever for all of us and its about how they can maximise their bottom line by manipulating companies into spending on Google ads.
    We have a web site with hundreds of pages of original content, hundreds of internal links meta tags ect.
    We have watching Google behaviour every day for the past six year through our digital marking department and trust me their algorithm is very sick at the moment and not making any sense.
    You are right this SEO industry is a bit of a racket as they do not know the answers to getting you highly ranked. They will skin you alive so I suggest you rather pay google ads as it makes a lot more economic sense. Leon Levy Klingshield South Africa

  5. Quick question, everyone is saying build back-links naturally, but from what i’m seeing the methods of email marketing and social media are not as effective as reciprocals. Whats your take on that?

  6. Jeff you are right, reciprical back links in the same or similar industries is very good in my opinion.Good up to date content, well laid out design,internal linking, good grammar and spelling, correct taging, all impact on the way Google organicly rank sites.One needs to get the correct formula which is a”ball breaker”my friend. Good luck Leon Levy Klingshield South Africa

  7. Adam, Jeric, Mike, Jeff and Leon,

    Thanks for the feedback and the conversation. This is a very complicated issue that I am working on the part 2 of for a future post. We are dealing with a moving target, but there is still room for a website built with solid SEO standards. It is the “gaming” of the system that Google is cracking down on. Google has 1 mission in order to remain relevant and still be considered the best search engine, that is to produce quality search results.

    I disagree with Adam that it is all about $$$. That is certainly part of it as Google is not running a non-profit. However, if it only came down to $$$ and they started producing search results that were not relevant, but just sold to the highest bidder, users would catch on and flee to another search engine. Google must produce relevant results to the users query to remain relevant. That will always be their #1 priority. If they do that, the $$$ will take care of themselves. They crack down on “gaming” the system not just to raise money, but to produce better results to searches. If, through an SEO tactic, a company is coming up higher in a search than should be warranted given the relevance to the query, Google will root that out and close the loophole.

    Good quality content that is relevant will always rise to the top. Focus on content, not gaming the system through SEO tactics.

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