The changing face of SEO and its impact on websites

What exactly is SEO?

SEO refers to the various techniques and practices used by webmasters and website owners which help the search engines find their web pages and then get those same search engines to index these pages for relevant keywords and search terms so that the web pages are returned, as near as possible, at the top of the results pages (SERPS)…phew!

SEO is one of those web management areas that can often cause a lot of confusion for website owners. This isn’t surprising as certain interested parties have had, historically, a vested interest in keeping this area shrouded in mystery. This was compounded by the fact that SEO was often driven by the use of technical tweaks and tricks that happened behind the scenes, so a lot of technical know-how was required to achieve success.

As a result of this, many websites were being returned at the top of searches, not because they were the most relevant websites, but because they were able to manipulate the algorithms (calculations) the search engines were using.

How SEO is changing

However, search engines are now gaining the upper hand. They have been able to identify a lot of so-called “black hat” or spurious SEO techniques, and they have begun to punish websites that deliberately engage in these practices.

The good news for website owners is that while some level of technical knowledge is beneficial with regard to SEO, the main focus now is on creating new and interesting content. This is what the search engines look for and they have made it abundantly clear that this is the main driver of rankings now.

The key components and activities of SEO can be represented now by the following elements:

1. Technical SEO Fundamentals and Foundation

This refers to the basic structure of the site and the process of ensuring that it is fundamentally sound, such as making sure the HTML code is clean and conforms to certain standards. Also included here is the websites “Meta Data” which search engines use as clues to help “fingerprint” the site.

2. Keyword and Competitive Research

Conducting research to identify the important search terms that relate to your business domain or area of operation and also conducting competitive analysis.

3. Content Marketing

The methods and processes which create content such as blogs, press releases, articles, white papers, news and so on. These are the key components to creating your unique content that will hopefully attract the search engines.

4. Social Sharing

Now a very important component of SEO. The level of engagement and the extent of social sharing on the various platforms is now viewed by the search engines as a good indicator of the importance of your content.

5. Measurement

Analytical tools have become really powerful weapons in the arsenal of webmasters and site owners as they provide amazing detail and insights into visitor behaviour. This data can identify which parts of your web presence is performing and which aren’t and can provide a basis for setting strategies to continually improve your web presence and general online marketing.

By Paul Compelli

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