We thought about quitting SEO

January 31st, 2014

Having provided organic SEO services for our clients since 1998, it was almost unthinkable to think what I thought this week – but I thought it – I almost decided to stop organic SEO services altogether.

Late last summer Google replaced its algorithm and its much-maligned updates with a brand spanking new algorithm called Hummingbird. Of course, this update incorporated some of what was in the previous algorithm and updates, but it is its own algorithm and has affected 90% of search queries in some way. The fact that it’s new is not what caused me to have thoughts of quitting SEO - but that it is designed, it seems, to make SEO even more obsolete than it was already. It appears that Google is close to achieving what they have always desired – web search that cannot be manipulated by SEO tactics and practices.

A search result that cannot be manipulated is actually a great thing for end users. All of us have searched a particular word or phrase and been presented with results that were not what we were looking for and even absurd. As searchers, we want more accurate, smarter search. 

But as businesses that sell products and services, we are now left with few options for search engine optimization.  Keywords and phrases are of very little value because Google is now looking for content that fits an explicit or implied concept. For example, a search for ‘donut shop’ is now interpreted by Google to be a person looking for a business that sells donuts. Old link building tactics such as link-farming (long gone) and blog commenting with links are now disregarded. Landing pages built for SEO are regarded by Google as (you guessed it) landing pages built for SEO instead of for nd users.

However, in the midst of my despair I realized that all is not lost. Content still matters, and how it is written matters even more than ever - good content about who we are and what we do and what we sell still matters. Blogging still matters. Getting other well-regarded websites to link to content on our sites that they find valuable is still very important because links are the reward for great content that others find valuable. The continuity of page elements are just as important – and some more important. Social signals seems to be gaining in value although a recent scientific test found that social shares, etc. are irrelevant to SEO. So it likely more about the entire social prominence than particular social signals. And newer elements like responsive design and using Schema mark-up are showing up as important.

So we believe that there is still value in SEO consultation and services. SEO results are even less guaranteed than ever, and results are harder to measure since Google Analytics no longer provides keyword information. But we still understand the search landscape and we’re still here to help.