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What's Up with SEO?

27 Mar 2014 | Posted Under SEO
When it comes to working the web to win, there have been a lot of changes over the years; 
none more so than Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Since Google's most recent update
 called Hummingbird, many website owners and a number of professional optimizers have found themselves in a quandary when it comes to generating Page One search engine results.

SEO used to have a very specific meaning. Today, if you ask 100 different SEO experts what SEO means, you will get 100 different answers, many of which are still rooted in the way Search Engine Optimization used to work. There is an old saying that goes something like, “If you ask a carpenter how to build a house he will tell you use wood, a hammer and nails. If you ask a mason how to build a house, he will say with brick and mortar. Well Internet marketing experts also follow this line of thought. They base their answer on what they do (their particular niche of expertise) or who they have asked (Google, Yahoo, Bing, or third party research results). This article will aggregate what is known from many sources and provide answers that haven’t changed (even after Penguin, or its new successor, Hummingbird). If you are looking for a leg up on what it takes to climb up the ladder to Search Engine success, read this article and pass it along to your friends so that you, too, will know “What’s Up with SEO!”
English: A Saw-billed Hermit (Ramphodon naeviu...
English: A Saw-billed Hermit (Ramphodon naevius) Deutsch: Ein Sägeschnabel-Schattenkolibri (Ramphodon naevius) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the last four years Search Engine marketing (a.k.a., SEO marketing) has undergone a radical change. These changes started to occur around 2005 and peaked with the launch of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm release. The entire Internet marketing industry has been paying very close attention to these changes. We have written extensively about this subject over the last three years: over a dozen articles discussing the ongoing changes that have perplexed novices and SEO experts alike. What is interesting to me is that many have ignored what has not changed during that time. In reality, Google search philosophy has not really changed over the last 10 years. It has always sought to provide the best search results for its users. What has changed over the years is Google’s ability to catch people trying to game or cheat their system. During the last four years, our own and our customers’ search rankings have not seen any drastic changes. Ours and our clients’ rankings have moved up and down a position or two (on Page One) but for the most part, have been stable. We have achieved this by taking Google at its word. Google has always stated that the most important factors areRelevance to the search term, followed by Quality and Timeliness of that content. I refer to these elements as the RQT factors of search. These three factors and their overall quantity are the primary factors for search results. The rest of this article will examine and explain these three terms followed by what has changed in search, along with what new to search.

The Mechanics of Your Page Matters

onpage seo
onpage seo (Photo credit: anasshad)
If the content of the page does not match the information designed for thesearch engine spiders, this miss match may be perceived as deception. The layout, structure, elements used and focus of the page also affect its ranking. If a web page has an unrelated domain name, an unrelated title, no meta or ALT tags, has lots of key phrases, and many headings, it will probably rank poorly. In other words, if the information is unfocused and covers too many subjects, it means the page has too many irrelevance phrases, thereby weakening its focus for a specific key phrase (it becomes a jack-of- all-phrases and a master of none). Focus gives your page celebrity status, especially to the search bots. Another common technical mistake is using too much Java, Flash and CSS code, especially in the beginning of the web page. Previously, these website elements and languages were used to effectively trick the search bots. Now the search bots have gotten smarter so to speak; if they detect anything that looks or smells like trickery, they lower your score. The mechanics of your page can account for about 25% of your score so understand this is still an important part of your overall score.

Now Let's Take a Look at the Term “Relevant”

Relevant Interview!
Relevant Interview! (Photo credit: Dr Case)
When SEO experts talk about relevance, they are referring to how well the search key phrase matches the content in the search directories. This information was gathered from your web pages and ranked by Google for trustworthiness, authoritativeness, popularity and usefulness. Google has always indicated that they are trying to provide the best match for what the customer is looking for. Your contents’ relevance is affected by many factors. First and foremost, is the whether the key phrase matches your Domain Name exactly. Next is the Page Title, followed by the Heading in the content of the document and so on.

On top of this, relevance is also affected by the authority’s trustworthiness and popularity of the links. Links that have highly respected companies back-linked to them have greater trustworthiness. If the links are also popular with high traffic count, this further adds to the importance of the links, because popularity is a vote that these links are better than links that don't have high traffic. The total number of back-links are also important as they are another way of looking at how popular and trusted the links are.

Next, Let's Talk About Quality

Many experts banter about the term “content is king” but this is somewhat misleading. The reality is: relevance,quality and timeliness make content king. So what makes content quality? In some of Google’s educational videos, it states quality is related to the value that others place on the content on the page. Just as in relevance, quality is related to a popularity contest 
based upon how others perceive and use your content. If a lot of people are reading, commenting and sharing your content, it’s rated as quality. Other factors include: Is it multimedia rich? Is it grammatically well written (which affects users’ experience)? And does it provide some useful purpose? (i.e., provides entertainment, provides useful information, connects people in some way, etc.). If the content has real intrinsic, useful value, people will use it, talk about it, link to it, and share it with their friends family and/or co-workers. Unoriginal content (possibly obtained by Autoblog programs, spammy documents, poorly written content and documents used to trick people, will usually rank low because they will not be utilized in the same ways as quality content is used. Even if someone is able to trick, scam or mislead the search bots for a time, eventually the search engines get wiser and those pages get blackballed to the junk heap.

And Now Let’s Talk About Timeliness

English: A clock made in Revolutionary France,...
English: A clock made in Revolutionary France, showing the 10-hour metric clock. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It may seem self-evident, but timeliness is a factor that is affected by time and timing. Time refers to how old the document is; timeliness referrers to document’s relevance to the trends, season, fashion or other temporal event. Content can be considered timeless if it is based on principles that do not change (i.e., “evergreen” content). On the other hand, timeliness can refer to passing trends like videos that go viral, seasonal events like Black Friday, trending fashions, or periodic events such as a presidential election. I like to write articles that are based on principles that either don't change or change very slowly. This article is based on principles that have not changed much over the last ten years. (What has changed is the search engines’ ability to “understand” content). If a web page contains content that is based on principles and meets all the criteria for relevance, quality and timeliness, it will rank high for a very long time. Content that is geared for trends, seasonal information, and limited events will still work for those items during its’ “season”. And lastly, if an item is seasonal and principled it will rank both during its trending period (seasonally) and beyond the trend, especially if it meets the other criteria for relevance and quality.

New Factors That Affect RQT

Quantity Matters 

Quantity has always mattered, but now quantity referrers more to having more of a multimedia approach (media rich) than in the past. Videos, blogging, podcasts and social posts are, for the most part, less than a decade old. Their influence did not really take hold until 
about 2010 when Google started to pay more attention to these factors. In the past, relevance and lots of quality backlinks were the most important factors. Today there are many different types of backlinks, including authoritative, uni- and bi-directional B2B backlinks, directory links, directory rating links, authoritative back links, media rich links, and social networking links. Social links are subdivided into profile backlinks, comments, and shares. Comments and shares are further subdivided into positive and negative posts. Today, the sheer quantity of backlinks comes into play. All things being equal, the company with the most backlinks that are highly rated due to their RQT and that are of a positive nature wins the day. If you're able to surpass your competitors’ numbers with equally positive RQT backlinks you win.  

Social Matters

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...
How Social Media are being used, 
and how everything is changed by 
them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today, the number one-ranked website in the world is a social network. Google has publicly stated that it considers social posts very important regarding ranking. Google has jumped on the social bandwagon and actually integrated its social networks (Google+ and YouTube) into its search criteria. Facebook is also one of the highest ranking factors. Google incorporates Twitter profiles, tweet streams, and 
LinkedIn profiles into search. Google also incorporates many other social nets’ profiles and post streams, including Instagram and Pintrest. Needless to say, social post are so important, that not “feeding” (providing RQT content to) your social sites on a daily basis could hurt not only your followers’ numbers, but your search engine ranking as well. The most important type of social posts are positive comments, positive ratings and positive shares. The worst that can happen to you is getting a lot of negative social post traffic. This type of negative press is a business killer, so make your customer happy!

Mobile Matters

Five years ago, mobile was a small part of many businesses’ Internet strategy. Today there are more Smartphones than computers. More importantly, people are using them in large numbers for searching. People are making buying decisions while being mobile. They are checking prices, looking for alternatives, looking to meet up with their friends, picking a venue, buying that special gift and much more. A guess what? If you make them mad while they are patronizing your establishment, they will quickly create and post negative social comments about how they have been treated… real time! Now consumers have an even
read all info here:
read all info here: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
more powerful weapon to deal with shoddy customer service. The best thing a business can do is provide website that is designed to provide an easy-to-use mobile experience, create loyalty programs that build clientele, and then use those same programs to placate those clients that accidently get angered because of poor service or other issues (defective merchandise, ran out of an item, etc.)

Trickery Matters

In the old days, trickery was rewarded by high ranking. Website technicians worked long and hard devising all manner of deceptions to fool the search engines. Today, chicanery is much harder to get away with. To make matters worse, Google will penalize any site it feels has engaged in deception. Today, trickery is a fast track to loss of search engine ranking if not outright banishment. Engage in deception at your own peril. It’s time to learn that honesty is the best policy. So we say give “the Gorilla” what it wants. Trying to trick Google is a sure way to lose at this very important marketing game.

RQT is Interrelated

Remember that Relevance, Quality and Timeliness are all intertwined in their delivery, and synergistically affect each other. The term Search Engine Optimization — which once referred on-page elements — carries with it many confusing connotations and some are still using methodologies that once worked in the past, but are now passé. Today, the term SEO needs to be replaced with a new, more appropriate and descriptive term. My partners and I like “Content Marketing.” Some use “Search Marketing.” Either way, these terms are more appropriate in describing how SEO has evolved into a totally different marketing methodology today.

In this article, I have explored what SEO once was and how it has evolved into the content marketing model we have today. I have defined the most important elements of SEO today and have explained many of the sub-elements that make up the all-important search. These changes have ushered in a new age for search marketing where search ranking is more dependent on relevant,quality and timely content than on just the use of keywords, meta tags and web page mechanics. Today the emphasis should concentrate on producing relevant, quality and timely content instead of trying to game the system. Following this model will ensure your success and keep your ranking high, regardless of what Google does next.

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