SEO is dead... long live SEO!

Google’s announcement that it can detect link networks

Recently, there has been an outcry over Google’s announcement that it can detect link networks and is actually in the process of de-indexing them. Indeed, the warning signs were there for all to see in the Google Webmasters Tool: “Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links to” with Google stating, “... turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years.” So the question is: ‘is everything now changing?’

When Google started the revolution in its ranking algorithm, it was using links as recommendation signals for the webmasters and, therefore, as the main ranking criteria. That approach still exists today.

In my opinion, the future of SEO will remain rooted in the concept of recommendation or voting (the most recommended site for a topic should be number one), alongside factors such as accurately providing the up-to-date information the user is searching for.

What might change with time is the data used for the recommendation. Instead of, or in addition to a link, it might be a G+ ‘like’ or the number of Twitter mentions or any number of other so-called social signals. The Internet landscape has changed drastically over the years and will change even more in the future.

By being consistantly online, merely entering a restaurant for more than half an hour might be considered a ‘vote’. The question is, can this still be optimised or influenced? Can votes still be bought?

(SEO and SMO) is all going to be merged into one marketing form. These days, it is all about digital marketing, as you can’t rely on one effort. Whether it is SEO or SMO, it’s all about driving traffic that converts. Marketers are going to have to focus on creating and testing out different forms of marketing, as these days there is a ton of potential from devices like the iPad and iPhone.

Recent weeks have shivered a ton of people. Big cheap link networks are being burnt down by Google and they deserve to be. It’s too easy to identify them, especially with advanced link building tools like - and Google has had similar and better tools at hand for years. Also, exact match anchor text (‘Play Poker’) is something Google could have used to differentiate between optimised and naturally grown link profiles for a while. It’s only now that it has tightened the screws and all those that tried the ‘quick route’ are taking a hit. This doesn’t mean that SEO is dead. In fact, we have seen similar network burn downs back in 2006; it’s just another strike by Google to remind us who our daddy is. For most, this means taking a deep breath, cleaning up poor link profiles (we recommend to do a thorough link profile evaluation - now or never) and thinking about the golden rules of link building.

The rules haven’t changed too much; it’s just that mistakes and disobedience are punished. Developing a truly natural footprint for your sites should have been your goal for years, and if you thought you didn’t need to do it ‘right’, now you do.

SEO and link building has always been something artificial and Google’s stance against us SEOs has never been clearer. Nice videos telling webmasters how to fix their robots.txt are just teasers; don’t forget, they never tell us how to do SEO and link building in them, and they never will.

In summary, SEO has advanced a step further, and you better research your playing field in detail, as you should have done in the past. The truth is, there is so much gold and opportunity out there especially after recent hits, that you should get your stuff done ‘right’.
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