The Rise of Social and Decline of SEO
The Rise of Social and Decline of SEO
Is SEO dead? Absolutely not but with the most recent announcement of Google algorithm changes, many small business owners are wondering what to do next. Unlike prior updates which focused primarily on “black hat” SEO techniques, the new algorithm changes are likely to impact websites of any size including those that are “overly optimized”. While that might sound questionable (more on that in a moment), there is actually reason for social media marketing agencies and their clients to rejoice because social is getting a LOT more important…very fast!
What Google Change?
If you have missed the news, Google has recently announced major upcoming changes to their SEO algorithm’s with the direct warning for “over-optimized” sites to begin planning sooner rather than later. In fact, experts anticipate the upcoming changes are part of an over-arching strategy to make SEO matter less and make social media matter more. The emphasis will continue to be on quality content but with the notable difference that those sites which don’t use SEO may rank just as well – or even better- as those that emphasize SEO. Ouch!
Obviously the implications for small business owners and SEO firms is paramount but is this just another example of fear-mongering or justified alarm? Perhaps a bit of both. Keep reading to separate the facts from the fiction surrounding the rise of social and decline of SEO.
What’s Over-Optimized Anyway?
The first question that savvy small business owners should be asking is “What actually constitutes an over-optimized website?”. Good question! Unfortunately, Google isn’t giving out a lot of specific details concerning the upcoming algorithm changes but we do know this…original, high quality content is becoming more important than ever. Chances are also pretty good that changes will continue to crack down on black hat techniques while taking on a few o f the more abused “grey hat” strategies lingering around. Assuming you haven’t built an entire SEO or Internet marketing strategy around somewhat dubious techniques, the average small business owner shouldn’t anticipate much problem and may actually benefit a great deal from the upcoming changes…especially if they already use social media marketing on a regular basis!
What Constitutes Great Content?
This is the crux of the upcoming algorithm change! Great content will become more important than ever under the new algorithm and SEO will no longer be able to take up as much slack. Instead, the ability to reach out to readers, obtain high interest and expand distribution via social media will enhance content standing to a much greater extent. Now, instead of SEO experts trying to create content around an algorithm, great content will be highlighted based upon user response, shared patterns and other more organic factors.
The Social Strategy & Search
So what does this really mean for small business owners? For one, social media marketing agencies will become more important than ever in the creation of a successful campaign or website. Integration and effective outreach will be increasingly important to SEO as well as marketing in general. A few other points seem to be in the works including the ability to answer specific questions in a clear and comprehensive manner. While major media sources like the Wall Street Journal and tech news sources have claimed near ignorance on the upcoming changes, it seems highly likely many will be directly or indirectly related to Google’s recent acquisition of Metaweb and the corresponding Freebase database. For those that aren’t familiar with Metaweb (don’t worry…aside from a few social media marketing guru types’, it’s not exactly light reading), their main product is an open database which consists of “things in the world”. Wow – big goal!
But Google doesn’t stop there. In their original press release concerning the Metaweb acquisition, Google stated their goal as wanting to “improve search and make the web richer and more meaningful…” Hmmm, that sounds slightly familiar! Metaweb uses “rich snippets” and a robust search answer feature to improve search results. The emphasis is on real people, real events, and real experiences. Freebase is quite similar in that it contains a large database of over 12 million things such as books, products, movies, locations and companies.
Bottom Line for Small Business
According to the current best “guestimates”, upcoming changes to Google’s search algorithm are likely to impact 10 to 20 percent of all search queries…in short, this is likely to be a major event. However, like most major events of the past, a clear opportunity presents itself for those that are prepared. Not sure how your small business website stacks up? Take time to contact a social media marketing firm that doesn’t use black hat techniques but instead, takes the time to build long term, lasting results from the ground up. In the meantime, it may not hurt to compile a list of common questions related to your service, industry and location. Get focused, create goals for your content based upon user needs and interests, establish a publishing calendar, evaluate those calls for action and keep it real rather than attempting to write specifically for SEO. That doesn’t mean you should ignore keywords – by no means! It does however mean the emphasis should be on usable, reliable, interesting information designed to problem solve and reach out to readers. Last but not least, have some fun with it and create multi-media, multi-channel messages designed to enhance sharing among social media connections.