If you’ve had any kind of search engine optimisation done in the last few years you will probably be aware of a change of ethos, as well as terminology. “SEO” used to be the latest and greatest buzzword in the online marketing world, but it’s rapidly being replaced by the new kid on the block, “content marketing”. In addition, the phrase “content is king” is becoming tirelessly overused, in an effort to emphasise the growing importance of website content.
So what’s driving these changes? Well, the main factor is Google, and in particular its recent updates, known as Penguin and Panda (and to a lesser extend Hummingbird). To many SEO marketers, these changes have meant a wholesale rethink of SEO strategy, and to an unlucky few they have meant total disaster as dodgy old SEO tricks start to cause more problems than they solve. In a nutshell, Google has wised up to many of the methods used to get websites to the top of the search results, and is making a massive push to make a website’s content a major factor in determining search results positions. While this makes life difficult for some SEO marketers, it levels the playing field and pushes website owners and SEO marketers to provide much better content on websites – this is the key to Google’s ambitions. Google believes, quite correctly, that by encouraging better content, visitors to these websites will ultimately receive a better experience. Why does Google care about the experience visitors to other websites? The cynical answer is that it’s all about money. By promoting websites that provide the best user experience, the happy users will continue to use Google to search the web – and a proportion of them will end up clicking on sponsored search ads, making Google money with every click.
There are two lessons to learn from all of this. Firstly, always try to diversify your marketing strategy so you’re not solely dependent on Google for your traffic. Secondly, always focus on your visitors rather than technical trickery – regardless of what Google does, if you create a positive experience for your visitors then you’re onto a winning strategy from the start.