The State of Search Engine Optimization Today, based on the Google Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird algorithm updates.
You probably know that SEO is the process of utilizing best practice guidelines and methodologies to make a website search engine friendly, in order to generate more organic (free) traffic. However, there are many layers to SEO as a service. Before I delve into it, let me give you a brief overview of my SEO industry background.
I began my professional career as a SEO practitioner in 2001. At that time, Bruce Clay was one of the authority figures in the SEO industry. I began to passionately learn everything I could from Bruce Clay and apply his methodologies to my clients’ and personal websites with great success. Over the years, I’ve produced several million organic visitors to websites that I’ve managed and operated – in addition to teaching dozens of people the art and science of SEO. In 2013, I’m just as passionate about SEO as I was in 2001…still fascinated by its complexities and nuances.
Alright, enough about me…let’s summarize the most recent Google algorithm updates, which have significantly impacted the SEO industry as we know it.
The Google Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda Algorithm Updates and the Impact on Search Engine Optimization Services
SEO has been a common practice since the dawn of the Internet in 1993. However, it did not become mainstream until 1999 (one year after Google launched), during the first ever SEO Conference hosted by Danny Sullivan. For over a decade, SEO was somewhat of a silver bullet approach to obtaining first page search engine rankings. As a result, many SEO service providers adhered to the ‘by any means necessary’ premise.
In recent years, Google has made a conscientious attempt to clean up the SEO industry by making significant changes to its search engine algorithm.
How The Google Hummingbird Update Affects Search Engine Optimization Services
On the eve of Google’s 15th birthday on September 27, 2013 – they announced their Hummingbird search engine algorithm update. According to Google’s search chief, Amit Singhal, “Hummingbird is perhaps the most dramatic upgrade to our algorithm since 2001”. Google’s Hummingbird update is said to produce more relevant and faster search queries based on conversational search terms, rather than broad search terms. Therefore, businesses should position their website content to provide answers to questions that people may type into Google.
This makes SEO content creation even more important. Previously, the aphorism was, “content is king”. Which is still true, but I would add to it by saying, “content, relevancy and trust is king”.
Content marketing is an immensely valuable component of SEO. These days, in order to gain and not lose search engine rankings, businesses should invest in creating quality, engaging, shareable, and likeable content.
Half-hazard SEO is now a thing of the past. Albeit, the term SEO is still industry-relevant, but the practice of SEO has become more holistically correlated to content marketing, due to Hummingbird and Google’s other algorithm updates.
How The Google Penguin Update Affects Search Engine Optimization Services
On April 24, 2012, Google announced the first of four Penguin updates to its algorithm. The Penguin updates were launched to decrease search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Websites that utilize unethical SEO techniques to increase page rank, such as advertorials (third party paid advertisement links disguised as editorial), keyword stuffing (repeated irrelevant keywords on web pages), hidden text, meta tag stuffing, doorway pages, link building software, and etc., will be penalized by Google.
According to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team, the update would affect less than one-tenth of a percent of English searches. This is a significant amount when we consider that more than a billion search queries are performed on Google per day.
How The Google Panda Update Affects Search Engine Optimization Services
On February 24, 2011, Google announced the first of twenty-six Panda updates to its algorithm. The Panda updates were launched in an attempt to lower the search engine rankings of low-quality websites (aka…thin sites), and return higher-quality websites to the top of the search results. The Panda updates affected about 12 percent of all search results in the US.
Although Google has not officially declared it, many people feel that Panda was launched with the primary interest of cracking down on scraper websites and content farms.
Scraper websites are considered to be blatant spam websites, because all of its content comes from other sites by use of scrapping software. Content farms are websites that employ low-wage writers to create large amounts of textual content. The primary goal of scraper sites and content farms is to gain high search engine rankings in order to generate advertising revenue.
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The State of Search Engine Optimization Today
SEO is more of an exact science today, than ever before. This is a great thing for business owners. Due to Google’s commitment to the user and cleaning up the industry, the playing field is more equal now. Although no SEO service provider can guarantee first page search engine rankings, the advanced SEO service provider can guarantee an increase in overall website traffic over time.
SEO Services, The SEO Process and Timeline for SEO Results
The process requires fulfillment of the customers’ needs and the search engine requirements. It requires content creation, curation and marketing in order to build links. It requires an user experience that maximizes subscription, social media, leads and sales conversion opportunities.
The timeline to achieve sustainable SEO success is not overnight….it’s not in a week, a month or even three months. Albeit, moderate SEO wins are possible in short time periods, real SEO success takes time.
Every business and industry competition level is different, so prepare to invest in an aggressive SEO strategy for 6 months to a year minimum. In this amount of time, you will surely achieve rewarding and sustainable SEO results. Today, SEO is not only about generating free traffic from the search engines…it’s also about generating referral traffic from social media sites and third party sites. Which is essentially, SEO + content marketing.
This was fun! I enjoyed writing this SEO article. If you found this article useful or would like to add something, please leave your comments below.
All the best,
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