Google Rage 2012; where to next?
Hey kids.... what's shakin? Old guy here. Listen, I'd like to impart something to ya. Anyone that's been around this business for even a while (you know, 4+ yrs) knows something simple; the 'voices' rarely talk anymore. Ever wonder why that is? It's because ya'll can't keep a secret.
I simply can't count on all my hands and feet how many great minds have gone silent. Thanks to this wondrous phenomenon, you're gripped by fear and uncertainty that is the modern world of SEO. Google has ya' by the nuts and the best you can do is start bitching about how life ain't fair.
Welcome to the inevitable future
We had a little bit of a brainstorming session in the most recent Friday chat here in the Dojo. We talked about the crazy state of affairs between Google and the SEO world over the last 12 – 18 months. Part group therapy, part future proofing. We wanted to take stock and plan ahead.
And that last part, “planning ahead” is tenuous at best. I doubt many of us really had a sense of what was to come when 2011 came to an end. Sure, Panda was a shot across the bow, but really... look at the carnage;
- Panda (ongoing)
- Networks got smacked
- Penguin link carnage
- GooPLA adds to Panda
- Manual actions go hard core
- EMDs get downsized
And that's just the memorable stuff. And what about our new 'disavow tool'? Didn't really see that coming. We've also seen display changes as far as things like 7 paks for brand searches, increased universal elements, author mark-up and more. It's kinda nutty out there in the trenches this year.
But what does that mean?
Well, if one listened to the FUD out there, on Google's end and our own, you'd think that once again the sky is indeed falling. Fortunately, we don't subscribe to that. If you're prone to smoke and mirrors you would certainly believe that getting more granular and geeky was the answer.
There is just no bloody end to the number of posts and articles out there over the last while seeking to dazzle us with numbers that will unlock the magic black box.
Then of course there's those other types of articles. You know the types. Craft great content and the rest will take care of itself. All the while the writers and purveyors of said crap are looking slyly to the side to ensure Google is nodding and looking at them with approval.
Retraining a lost industry
I mean really. Are we so brain dead that someone actually needs to tell us that quality is the answer? Was SEO at it's core just about garbage to start with? And we need to be shown the light? Sigh.
Some other classics, predictions or not, that seem to be making the rounds include;
- Stop 'low quality' link building
- Go local/mobile (horrid conversion rates)
- Social is the new SEO
- Specter of negative SEO
- Author mark-up as a ranking factor
- PageRank isn't important
- Site-wide links will be spanked
And many more. If you can't sort out the realities from the idiocy, maybe it's time for a new profession. No seriously, if you don't 'get' what's wrong with those above statements, you're a poser. It's a fact. We need to ask ourselves eventually; when did the bar get set so low?
Ever heard of on-site SEO?
And while I am at it, why do we still not see much in the way of conversation about the actual websites we work on? Sure, the 'great content' and 'content is king' thing is back, but that's only because most SEOs are so damned terrified of links lately that they don't know what else to talk about (that, and social of course).
You'd be amazed at what actually happens on a website that can make a serious difference, alone or in aggregate, to your SEO efforts. Things like;
- Site architecture
- Internal link ratios and anchors
- Prominence elements (headings, lists, bold etc)
- URL structures and page naming conventions
- Cookies and session IDs
- Site maps (regular and video)
- Robots.txt and status codes
- Rel tags (author, canonical, nofollow etc)
- Image and ad placements
- Content curation (updating, duplicate and thin)
- Outbound linking (trust/authority)
- Security (making sure yer not hacked)
- Semantic targeting (related terms, proper TITLE etc)
- SERP CTR via call to action in meta-descriptions
- Image targeting and proper alts
- Keyword mapping (also related to semantic and internal links)
And, I kid ya not, there's even more we look at when doing audits around here. But yer feeling my point right? Plug those into your great content and social programs and who knows... might just find ranking for things ain't as hard as it seems.
Those SEOs sitting around scratching their heads because the link graph became harder to manipulate, are lost in space. If anything, the recent Googly activities towards links puts all that much more emphasis towards the on-site SEO. You want to get the most from the equity (links) that you can.
But how many will actually make this a priority to clients? We all know they tend to be resistant to on-site changes, thus we've gone the easier route; get more links.
Shape up or Ship out
So please, if you've gone all 'deer in the headlights' on us, stop writing about or talking about how great content is the key. Stop blathering about how social is the way to go. I know yer just scared and that's all you could come up with. Come put yer head on uncle Dave's shoulder, it's gonna be ok.
In fact, some of the best SEOs I know, haven't ever really played in the link building game. And there are others, including prominent link builders I know, that believe link building isn't actually SEO. That it is a separate discipline unto itself. So hey, maybe it's time to learn a little real SEO right?
As 2013 approaches let's all start talking more about the many avenues of SEO and less about how life ain't fair or how great content and social as being the new SEO. M'kay? Thanks
Until next time, play safe.