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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

SEO Game Is Getting Over? Thanks to SEO!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Image Courtesy: Nodalbits
Build a better mousetrap, and the mouse gets smarter. This is what has been happening in search industry. Undoubtedly, the loopholes in Google algorithm have given birth to SEO industry that sprawled so fast to become ‘SEO Industrial complex’. 
They are very quick at finding ‘alternative’ to manipulate algorithm to secure top listings, the next day after Google updates its algorithm.  In reality, Google never encourages SEO practices for any website as long as you make your site Google friendly by following its guidelines.
The growth of SEO was spontaneous that came into being to help Google plug its loopholes. Every time SEO cheats on, Google finds its leakages, and then plugs them with its super-smart programming in the form of Panda, Penguin, and so on. On the contrary, SEO Industrial Complex does not leave any stone unturned to find a loophole to cheat on Google. Very recently, I have come across an article entitled “Cheating Penguin is Easy” followed by a disclaimer note:
The purpose of this article is to flag flaws in Google’s search quality algorithm and raise awareness about bad SEO practices. Please refrain from using the tactics described in this article on your own website."
Of course, there are best practices of making a site search engine friendly but hardly do I think of any best practices for “website optimization”. Making a website SE friendly never means ‘optimization’. The word ‘Optimization’ indicates ‘tricks’ or “tactics”, used to influence a website’s ranking on Google. All the tricks or tactics evolve around either the guess work of Google algorithm or SEO hoodwink.      
Obviously Google’s algorithm is a trade secret, but as long as there is “algorithm” that indexes websites in some way to rank them for search, there will be SEOs who manipulate that algorithm, and use that skill to secure better rankings, and continue to thrive up to become a 60 billion industry. Indeed, it’s a game, and you should be perfect in gaming this system.
No wonder, Google has killed millions of businesses over a decade, and Google is killing this industry too, though slowly.    
SEO will continue to be a rat race game until Google intelligently builds a really smart engine. However, things are slowly changing. Google is not what it used to be a decade ago. The search engine is getting smarter at reading contextual information, and SEO, as we ‘worship’ today, would soon become irrelevant, and die naturally.

Image Courtesy: Rubensantiago
There are many who never believe that keywords will ever become completely meaningless. Somewhere I have read someone quoting “take a look at any computer science program at the top 10 institutions around the world. Every single one of them has a human-computer language interface course of study. It’s only a matter of time before Google and the other search engines can pick up context and sentiment nearly as well as a human. At that point, all that will matter is the content on the page.”
Google has been proposing the following areas to focus on to a webmaster/inbound marketer for a long time:
  1. Great Users’ Experience
  2. Relevant and Quality Content
  3. Natural and Social Links 
  4. Social KPIs 
Great Users’ Experience: One of the key metrics to measure ‘great users’ experience’ is organic CTR. Already; Google is tracking and collecting information about a site’s CTR. One can check the data in Google Webmaster Console. A higher CTR possibly determines the organic quality score (OQC) of a web page similar to AdWords. 
A higher organic intuitively shows users’ preference or likes. It becomes hard for inflating organic CTR arbitrarily. 
If a site is optimized arbitrarily by cheating on Google algorithm, the ranking of such web page gets pushed to lower positions due to gradual decline in CTR. Thus, the key-metric to determine great users’ experience is a higher CTR that can be further segmented into different parts such as fast web page, responsive website (multi-device compatibility), time spent, users’ reviews, rich snippets, benchmark against competitors, branding, usability, and so on, apart from considering social KPIs (I would talk latter). All these KPIs grow organically sans any manipulation.  
Relevant and Quality Content: So far Google depends on backlinks, Meta tags, header tags, anchor text, Alt Tags, etc. to determine the quality content and the relevancy of a webpage. However, these metrics would be slowly going away, as Google has already started indexing content based on ‘reviews,’ ‘likes’, ‘shares’, ‘tweets’, +1d, ‘comments’, basically social KPIs. 
All these metrics are trustworthy because Google displays results based on what users are literally loving, trusting, and liking. Google has now access to tons of data, including information from its Chrome browser as well as Google Analytics. Universal Analytics and Tag Management would be game changers that provide a pretty good information to Google, and help the search engine know what is good and what is bad.  
Natural & Social Links: Already, SEO Industrial complex has agreed on the death of links, for their every tactics used are discouraged by Google. Their restlessness has increased these days. 
Google has officially announced ‘a no link baiting’ technique, and introduced ‘disavow’ but many SEOs find it tough to use this feature in GWT, for it’s the most dangerous part to touch. Google is penalizing a variety of links such as reciprocal links, rel=nofollow links, sponsored links, links from bad neighborhood, directory links, and artificial cum non-artificial link techniques.
Image Courtesy: Seofen

Google has already felt that manipulated inbound linking is exploiting a “gaping hole” in its search algorithm and rewarding websites who don’t create ‘content utility’ for users. The Industrial Complex devises a different technique, and goes a natural way to cheat on the system, which they call ‘Link Earning’ if not ‘Link Building’. Whatever they call, they have one objective, that is to cheat on the system.  
Google too understands this manipulation. A frequent Penguin update cracks down such tactics, and discourages this kind of malicious practice. Website ranks now on reputation not just artificial links. Google hardly rewards a website if a site is not socially engaged. 
The key metrics of social engagement are ‘shares’ ‘likes from users profiles’, links from renowned authors (identified via author markup). Good content naturally evokes response from users. They share, re-share, tweets, re-tweets, comments, bookmark, reviews, ratings, etc.
In short, Google is looking more and more at the human engagement factor for links. Hence, the scope for link manipulation is being reduced to almost nothing. Now, the four elements of so-called ‘link building’ such as Quantity, Quality, Diversity, and Velocity are hard to put into a single basket.
So, guys, be aware of setting up dummy or fake social profiles to invade other social communities purposely to cheat on the system.                                                                         
Social KPIs : How is Google going to measure a site’s reputation? Social KPIs. We all know that Google PR is just carrying its legacy, which is a no longer a yardstick to determine a site’s overall importance. Engagement is a key to determine a site’s relevancy. 
The key social metrics to measure a site’s engagement are ‘shares’, ‘like this’, ‘comments’, ‘bookmark’, ‘tweets’, “reviews & ratings”, “reputation”, “thumbs up”, ‘mention in G+”, ‘+1d’ ‘influencers’, ‘number of subscribers/followers’,  and so on. All these social KPIs also show the popularity of a brand. So, focus on building a brand, and create a rock solid strategy to promote in digital media. 
Many big brands are embracing social media. The recent launch of EdgeRank by Facebook is an initiative to learn about the strategies of the medium and the algorithms that keep it running. Google may possibly retire its legacy measurement i-e Google PR, to launch something similar to Facebook for its G+ users.

                                                      Image Courtesy:Outsource--Force/Blog
Summarizing my thoughts with:
  1. Rae Hoffman - “SEO is harder now.  It’s not as easy as it used to be so step up your game.  The sooner you accept that you need to put some serious effort into this, the better off you’ll be.” 
  2. Matt Cutts -“In the future, you’ll see more gradual ranking changes.”
  3. Janet Driscoll - “It’s not about the rankings.  You’re a marketer first and an SEO second.
  4. Greg Boser -“Embrace the big data thing!  Mine your data, look at internal data to help guide your strategies."
Decide where the future of SEO is heading towards! I do not think SEO is evolving or morphing. It’s dying, as it is harder today. It’s becoming harder day by day. And, it may become almost impossible gradually. Thanks to SEO for helping Google create a super-smart engine, and thereby digging its own grave!  

8 Comments :

  1. Quality post but was a bad news in it for the SEO's :(( still what ever you have mentioned in your post was true ti itself.. Google is not that Google it was 10 years ago its has drastically updated itself in ways and is carrying on the good work further.. Cheating up on Google in near future might become impossible..

    Shveta R

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  2. @Shveta, thanks for sharing your inputs. Appreciate it.

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  3. Welcome buddy! But you are the one who should be appreciated (h)

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  4. This article is flawed. [-( You're labeling all SEO's as black hat SEO's. Optimization does not mean cheating. It literally means the act, process or methodology of making something perfectly functional or effective. I don't believe black hat techniques fall into this definition. Companies will still need to know how their site needs to be set-up, what they need to do to rank. The job of the SEO has just changed. The SEO will need to become and should already be a true internet marketing professional. One that both is familiar with the algorithms but also understand visitor conversion.

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  5. The article is not flawed. Making a site in compliance with search engines should never mean optimization. SEO is known for tricks to work around the guess work of over 200 ranking signals of Google.

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  6. Pathetic Article. SEO is not at all black hat. Yes you are right that we need to follow the google's law of making website. But how to conquer at the top.
    Okay take an example. I made a show and made a perfect website, following all the rules of google. But nike is at the top and the other giants are below where am i standing now ? So I need to do some marketing like social media, submissions to relevant places and other SEO tasks.
    If i wont adopt these trick my website wont be able to come at the first page because of the giants website.

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  7. @Anonymous, when the Rome was burning, Nero was fiddling. You like many others are fiddling, and living in your castle. Google has more than 200 ranking signals and you think 'your tricks' will get your site on the top of Google. The game of tricks is getting over. I advise you to research on this topic, and then share your "sensible" thoughts, but not pathetic and being so orthodox!

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  8. @Munaz Anjum
    Sorry to hurt your feelings. Your article is a huge help to those of us who, due to financial difficulties, are unable to invest in you at this moment in time. It’s very much appreciated that you are happy to help and give advice not just to your members, but to everyone, excellent!

    Moreover who is cheating google? SEO is not at all about cheating dude. You please do some research on google's rules. You may say that the practices are going to be change for SEOs. You cant say that Architect Engineers will be out since the machines are so accurate now we can build our own house design without architects. If you do you cant guarantees of how long your house will stay safe from weather effects ;)

    SEOs will live forever but will be doing some different stuff like focusing more on social media and doing some other practices.

    I hope you are getting my points.

    ReplyDelete

 
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