Where is Search Engine Optimization Headed?

By Jacqueline Sinex, Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Where is SEO headed

Does search engine optimization still have significance in today’s marketing world? The simple answer is yes, but SEO looks a little different today than it did a few years ago. In the coming years, we will continue to see SEO lean away from the “old school” techniques and migrate toward a better content-driven Internet.

Old-School SEO Practices

When website optimizers first began selling SEO services to business owners, the service was fairly cryptic and focused on a lot of on-page edits that seemed unnatural and unsightly. Long lists of links with odd phrases were inserted into the normal content of a web page. Random keywords were stuffed at the bottom of the page or peppered throughout the footer of various pages. One big link to the Pizza Hut website included in your homepage footer could suddenly make you relevant for pizza.

Search engines have continued to fine-tune their technology and update their indexing rules, making all of these old tactics defunct. Search engines like Google aren’t in the business of punishing sites or even punishing spammers; they are in the business of serving people with quality search results. If visitors always find exactly what they are looking for in that search engine, they will keep using it. If lots of people keep using that search engine, it can easily sell advertising to thousands of businesses. So it is no surprise that Google employs talented programmers, researchers, and analysts to help identify the best websites and rank them appropriately.

So if you can no longer just stuff your web pages with keywords and long meta tags, what does SEO even mean?

SEO companies still spend significant time fine-tuning web page code and content, but the theme is much more focused on quality content and user experience. The general rule of thumb is, “If humans like this content, then search engines will probably like it.” Actually, if a lot of humans really like your content and engage with it and share it, that will indeed help your SEO value.

Organic search engine optimization services are definitely still relevant, but they are now more of a cohesive marketing effort. As SEO professionals, we have to communicate with our customers, understand the business, understand the products, and understand the target market. We need to be well aware of the drive for quality content and the ongoing maintenance that good content entails.

SEO is not a one-time project that will get your results overnight. It will continue to require a maintenance strategy: How will you prove to Google that your website is always relevant?  If your competitors are updating their blog every week and sharing their expertise in other publications and forums, can you afford to stop participating?

Web Design Will Change

We are already seeing dramatic changes in trendy web design styles that are simplified with little text and often very visually focused. There are balanced ways that you can include text content and SEO best practices in nicely designed websites. But perhaps we will also see several different shifts in the way websites are built in the next few years. Web designers and marketing companies love to showcase cool design styles, but perhaps we will see different formats surface or social media and blog platforms change to balance out the “design heavy” features. What we will not likely see much is heavy animation, and in fact, image sliders may begin to be used less and less. More web designers may start cutting these features to improve loading times and focus text-based content and call-to-action links in front of the visitor’s eyes.

Posted in: Internet Marketing, Marketing, SEO, WWW Learning Center

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