Category: SEO

If you don’t keep up with the latest SEO trends, you run the risk of the grass growing beneath your feet.

Penalties aside, there are new developments in SEO all the time and understanding what’s around the corner allows us to prepare, our own and our client sites, for the best.

As an SEO consultant in London, I’m positioned geographically close to a dynamic hub for SEO. However, as you’ll agree the more points of view you hear, the more information you have to formlulate your own view. So, I asked 11 different SEO professionals what they thought may occur in the next 12 months or so in the area of search and this is what they came back with:

Q. What do you think will be the most surprising SEO changes of the next 12 months?

A. ledux

What surprises can SEO bring us this year?

1. It might come from the battle between YouTube and Facebook. As Facebook continues to grow its video platfrom, Google will probably start thinking of some plans to fight it. This might lead to changes in YouTube rankings or videos being more often showed in Google search results. So, that’s something to look out for.

2. Last year Mozilla dropped Google as it’s primarry search engine for US users. Windows recently launched its new browser, which for once is actually quite good, which could mean it might attract more users and even more Bing searches. All these things can add up in making Google less popular and that could mean that our SEO efforts might need to be focused towards two search engines Google and Bing.

A. priyaflorence (Blogging since 2003 for myself and my clients)

I think artificial intelligence (AI) will play a bigger role in Google’s algorithm as the year goes on. Google RankBrain Algorithm, a machine-learning technology that is part of it’s Hummingbird update, will play a bigger role in helping Google sort it’s search results. RankBrain can “see patterns between seemingly unconnected complex searches to understand how they’re actually similar to each other.” Right now, Google says that RankBrain has become the third-most important factor for ranking Web pages. For most consummate SEO professionals, this should not come as a surprise. Rather it will be an indication of where search is moving in the future.

A. irynya25

I guess there is no many cardinal changes we should expect in 2016. But here are some considerations on SEO 2016:

1. Mobile SEO will become more important than desktop SEO.

2. The last time Google put much attention to user experience. I think speed will be one of the most demanding factors affecting your site rankings.

3. It is expected to be a shift to content marketing. Content quality will be paramount in this year.

4. Long-tail keywords will play an important role in the marketing strategy. The last year started with Google Hummingbird and continued with Google RankBrain that helps to sort out the search results.

5. Twitter will right the ship and increase its growth. There are some features that make much greater creative and content potential.

A. Ryan_Michael_McDonald (Digital Marketing Director at Iterate Marketing)

I’m not one for predicting algorithm changes, but the trends I’m foreseeing in 2016 that would’ve sounded crazy in early 2015 are:

  • Long tail is back, and weirder than ever. Voice search is changing search queries. We’re starting to see it in AdWords and Organic queries. Siri, Cortana, Google Now are seeing queries changing to longer, more specific, occasionally conversational queries. Yesterday I saw a query that said, “Okay Google, tell me…” It’s like AskJeeves all over again.
  • The industry is shifting towards Content Marketing. We’ll see SEO and Content Marketing combined in service packaging, and even SEO as a line-item in Content Marketing services. Content is driven by brand, and while it’s optimized for Google, it’s no longer built for it. The days of editorial calendars based purely off of keyword demand are over.
  • The “Knowledge Graph” continues to expand. Structured markup should be applied everywhere possible, especially for local and Ecommerce websites. If you’re no one to Google, you’re no one at all.

A. Lukasz Zelezny (Head of Organic Acquisition)

As most SEO experts and enthusiasts will tell you, every year brings plenty of new elements and changes to the SEO game. Whether I’m dealing with internet marketing, link building, content creation or something completely independent of SEO, the subtle yet constant changes being felt across the web have an effect on it.

With regard to social media, I’m expecting to see a complete reversal in how search engines value and classify social media signals. Up until now, social signals have at best had an indirect effect on SEO. Google and others have already begun to rank hashtags and trending topics from Twitter in SERPs, so I fully expect to see a world where comments, likes, followers and shares begin impacting rankings in a palpable way.

Guest blogging in recent years saw a bit of a downturn, but I’m fully expecting the practice to pick up once again in the coming year. As link building strategies become more sophisticated – in conjunction with an increase in how Google and others view link associations between multiple websites – there is going to be increased demand for this. Despite the initial hype and fear in regards to potentially negative link associations via guest blogging, there seems to be a general consensus that SEO efforts of the vast majority of blogs and websites are not being harmed through such practices.

Additionally, I expect that mobile responsive design will continue to become more necessary in order to perform well in search. While it may not happen within the next 12 months, the sheer amount of competition in search will likely soon lead to non-mobile optimised sites not being ranked at all in search, instead of just being lowly-ranked in most SERPs.

A. jonnyp (About the SEO technical part..)

Contents with videos have been the talking point of 2015 and 2016 is surely going to be the year of videos. Once again, keeping true to Google’s systematic abhorrence for over-optimization, one can’t really go on to add relevant videos arbitrarily in a single post. A single powerful video for each post will do. With multiple videos in a single content you not only have loading time issues to contend with, but Google’s ire as well. There are several on-page professionals who have asked me why videos are surfacing at the forefront of SEO, when we can’t even back them up with keyword optimized alt tags (something that can be done with images). The simple answer to that question would be that– readers are more likely to spend more time on your content if it has an embedded video in it. And, Google gives a lot of importance to a website if users spend more time in it on an average. So, if you had been too busy fixing alt-tags and meta-descriptions all this time then it is time to shift your focus on this lesser explored (but effective) on-page SEO tactic. Who knows whether Google is even planning to roll out an update regarding videos or not? I strongly believe that there is a possibility.

I don’t know whether Google will work on this or not but they should start regulating websites that don’t have a comment section. It kind of dents the entire idea of “digital democracy” whereby we aren’t allowed to put our opinions forward through comments. After all keeping valuable comments in moderation and publishing them with keywords afterwards facilitates SEO as well. There is just another avenue opening up for SEO professionals!

A. Doyan Wilfred (Founder howtogetmoresalesonline.com)

The evolution of the RankBrain algorithm and its effects on website rankings will be interesting to watch. More importantly, it will be interesting to watch rankbrain interacts with influencer marketing and local search.

You know that its now difficult, if not impossible, to rank for highly competitive keywords even when you are using the tried and true tactics like backlink building, skyscraper technique, guest posting, infographic, et al.

Which is why more and more people are resorting to influencer marketing to get their content noticed and shared. Als, you need a solid social media marketing plan.

Overall, I am looking forward to more personalized search results.

A. Ashley Faulkes (Online Marketer)

SEO in the past has always been thought of as a simple result list. And predominantly on desktop search. But as we all know, search engines have been changing as more and more people are using their mobile devices to search (and perhaps their smartwatches in the near future).

However, Search is starting to get even more complex, and has been drastically changing over the last few years. Such things as semantic search have changed the way we view keywords and content, but that is also just the tip of the iceberg!

In 2016, I believe Search will quickly evolve. This will start to surprise people as the search results change from how they used to be. Not only are results more complex and hard to predict/manipulate, but they also contain a wide variety of different information types. For example, Google is adding more and more answer boxes, information from knowledge graph and now, with the hard connection to Twitter, perhaps even more tweets.

Search is becoming a complex beast that will soon be hard to recognise.

A. Casey Markee (President, Media Wyse)

Google makes Structured Data a Ranking Factor: At the recent State of Search Conference, Gary Illyes stated that Structured Data will be big in 2016. He also went on to say that Rich Snippets, Knowledge Panels and Featured Snippets would be a focus point in the new year.

Google will be publishing Guidelines on how to get Featured Snippets, making its embrace that much more important. This could be Google’s way of saying that although we are not using structured data for ranking now…we MAY in the future. Better get on board!

What type of structured data should you focus on? Google seems to love JSON-LD and I predict that will have a huge emergence as the defacto standard in 2016. I recommend you focus on its implementation specifically with your clients over traditional microformats.

A. sumant (Director of Digital Marketing)

The trends have been pretty consistent over the past I would say 4 years. Content marketing is defintely the way to go, but I think the relevancy to searches is going to play a crucial role. For example, if people happen to be searching at a given time (month) about ways to eat healthier, and you have written a piece about incorporating organic vegetables that has been featured on a high authority site- This is good. Meaning that the bio link will go back to your main site, but the original search will let Google’s algorithm that your content is trending, and thus your business site wil feel the effects. I believe that in 2016 the user search is going to determine the popularity of your site.

A. seowaterman (SEO Rock Star)

I feel the most surprising SEO change that will occur in 2016 is that the Google desktop algorithm (and web crawler) and mobile algorithm (and crawler) will become one algorithm. The outcome of this merger will be that mobile-friendliness will become a ranking factor for desktop organic searches. This is likely since Google undoubtedly wants to run one singular search algorithm that can handle results regardless of device. As the future of handheld and wearable devices continue to evolve, Google will not want to create specific algorithms and crawlers for the various devices to come. This will also force web designers and developers to consider mobile first since the mobile-friendliness of a website would then negatively effect the larger visibility of the website within the organic search space.

When choosing an SEO consultant in London you might previously know a little about search engine optimisation. However, how do you know you’re getting a king and not a pretender to the throne? There’s many an SEO expert in London, however not all of them may be suited to your particular business. So, here’s some questions you should be asking your potential SEO expert before hiring.

Questions for Choosing an SEO Consultant in London

Here’s a list of questions to ask when deciding on an SEO expert in the capital.

What SEO Experience do they Have?

Ask them how much experience they have had as an SEO expert? This will give you an idea if they have gone through a variety of different changes in SEO and have the in-depth long term understanding of how search engine optimisation works.

Can I see a list of your previous and also current clients?

This will allow you to gauge whether the SEO was satisfactory in their work and whether their achievements are as they claim to be.

Ask how they will improve rankings?

There are over 200 different factors that Google tends to use to measure rankings – some of these are more important than others. It’s good to ask your SEO so you’re clear how they will improve rankings. Ideally, they should perform and audit and then fix on-site issues to ensure your site is as SEO friendly as possible, before performing off site work. This should then include ethical link building, social media and on-site blog work.

Are they Familiar with how to Rank Local Results?

Local SEO is important for a lot of businesses and having a business that has proven it can push a site to the top locally can be a notable benefit. Reality is that due to the importance of local SEO, every local business needs to take it into account. Ensuring you have hired an individual company that can do this is important.

Do they Understand The Big Marketing Picture?

Does the SEO focus on rankings or conversions? The reality is ranking number 1 is no good if you’re not converting traffic into leads. A good SEO consultancy will understand this and be able to help optimise for you.

Ask about Communication Skills

Communication is important for an SEO expert and a good SEO is a problem solver who gets things done and understands how SEO works. They will be able to communicate changes that need to be achieved and need to be able to discuss matters with developers and content creators in a manner that everyone understands. This will also go

How do they Learn?

A good SEO will be someone who keeps up with the ever changing trends in this super-fast industry. It’s a good idea to ask them how they stay ahead of things and know what the future holds. Ask them where did they learn SEO and how do they stay on top of things is a good idea.

These are just a few questions to ask when choosing an SEO consultant in London

 

 

Link building is still so important, never mind what some will have you think. Survey after survey shows that link building and the quality and suitability of links is the number one ranking factor in SEO. What’s changed is Google’s ability to determine whether your site has the right links or not. 

Building links for local SEO is somewhat different to building for national sites and in a lot of ways much finesse and attention to detail is required.

When building links for a larger national or international site, there is often more room at play. Creating blog content for large industry blogs, renowned general blogs and international news sites is often the norm.

Local SEO Link Building Services

This local strategy requires a different approach. Unlike larger sites, where powerful links are often the required type, local links need to take the size of the business, geographical area and in the case of the local map pack and directories – the correct NAP details are as important as the link itself.

Google understands increasingly what looks like a natural link and as such it knows that a small mom and pop business is going to naturally be more inclined to come by a link from a small local media outlet or a partially related business blog from the same town than 15 blog comments created via a scatter gun approach on larger international sites.

Natural is the Aim

Needless to say the issue when you think about it is quite obvious. A link in an editorial written by a local journalist about a charity drive looks a lot more natural and that’s the name of the game. Links need to look natural and ideally need to be natural and Google is increasingly able to spot patterns to the contrary.

Our link building service is focused on creating these natural sorts of links for your business and that’s why we’ve been deemed so successful at what we do.

We don’t tend to heed to stock advice that you should rebuild a competitor site’s profile, or that you need to hit up huge authority blogs for the best links. Yes, these things will help but often not to the same degree as a more considered approach.

SEO and seo link building services should not be a one size fits all strategy. They ideally should be bespoke services that fit within a client budget. Each site is unique and its needs are the same. What’s needed for local SEO and small businesses is a lot different than what’s required for national websites and larger.

So, if you’re looking for quality SEO services then get in touch with us – we’d love to help improve your rankings and meet your SEO goals.

 

 

For new bloggers SEO or search engine optimization is like a science. SEO is a process and takes time. There is plenty of information on what to do.

The best SEO information you can learn though is what not to do; things that will get you in trouble. Some of these SEO mistakes can cost you search engine rankings and reduce search traffic.

It is important to understand what these SEO mistakes are so you can stay clear of them. Here is an Infographic with SEO Mistakes to Avoid.

Wrapping it up

Don’t take short cuts or look for quick wins when it comes to SEO. In the long run the ever evolving search engines like Google will find a way to penalize black hat SEO practices. Low cost SEO or link building tactics will eventually get you in hot water, so steer clear of them.

The best advice when it comes to SEO is build link worthy content and promote the content to the best of your ability. Don’t copy content word to word; be patient and consistent with content quality and publishing frequency. Always learn SEO from the pros and not any local self proclaimed expert. Good luck with your SEO ventures.

Print

 

Cent likes blogging related content with a twist. He loves Infographics. He likes innovation and entrepreneurship. To see what crazy idea he is currently working on pop in to his blog YourEscapeFrom9to5.com

A lot of businesses and business owners may have never even heard of SEO before. However, they may wish they had if they knew the benefits that SEO could bring to their websites.

In fact, there are numerous ways a small business can benefit from SEO and we’re going to take a look at a few below.

businessesRanking

Did you know that 70% of people will click on a link in the top 3 positions on the results page and 40% will click on the first positioned site? It doesn’t take a lot of explanation to expel the benefits of appearing here.

All Sizes

Businesses of all sizes can benefit from SEO. Local SEO can be one of the most beneficial things a business can take advantage of and can be relatively easy to rank for and gain traffic from.

Mobile

Ensuring you have a mobile and responsive website is a must for SEO and with more searches now taking place on mobile web than through desktops you can surely see the reasons why it’s hugely beneficial to not just smart to use SEO but also to have a mobile site. Do so and you can greatly enhance your chances of ranking above competitors locally and for people using mobile in your area.

Brand Awareness

A website that’s not found is not as much use as a website that’s very apparent. Building brand awareness is one of the key reasons people have websites. By ranking well you create brand awareness that will last the test of time and plenty of Google updates too.

SEO is possibly the most effective way to spend your marketing money and delivers the best return – targeted traffic en-mass. Not all marketing mediums can say they do this nearly as efficiently as SEO.

Conversion

Because the traffic is targeted the conversions tend to be higher and this means you have a higher action rate and more people purchasing your goods that you would with other forms of marketing.

SEO can have a very positive impact on your business – so why not get in touch with us at Myonlinemarketer and make more of your SEO today.

google authorship dead

 

I’ve been a specialist in SEO in London and beyond and in my time I have learned a few things and met a few people in the industry. So, I thought I’d ask them what they thought.

Google Authorship has had a bit of a tumultuous time in recent months and though Google fired the warning signs about its death a good few months ago, there’s plenty of speculation about whether its demise is permanent.

As a leading internet marketing company in London, always trying to improve, I asked some of my fellow marketers from throughout the world and we compiled a list of some of the big thinkers in the industry and gathered their thoughts on the subject.

So, is Google Authorship Completely Dead?

An SEO specialist in London (me) and those from beyond the big smoke have their say

A. jonnyp

As per the news we have seen on Searchengineland “Google has completely dropped all authorship functionality from the search results and webmaster tools.” its clearly mentioned that they will not show any authorship results, and for many people the process was a bit difficult using the rel=author in the bio and again linking that to their google plus profile. We all know this mainly happened after the guest posting hits..

Have to wait for their new algo again.. :)

A. Steve Counsell (Mr)

Google have been “flip-flopping” on the whole authorship thing in my opinion. The main thrust of Authorship when first mooted was to pull trusted conte to the top of the search results an dadd an image of the author to the left of th results. This seems to have been reserved for very prolific jounalists types and over the last few months has been removed from the results completely (here in the UK at least).

More recently and over the last week or so (August / September 214) I have noticed that my own posts on Google Plus have been reappearing in search results and have my preferred mug shot placed to the left of the search result.

I teach businesses DIY SEO and have been recommending that every business that attends my seminars and workshops make sure that they have a full and vibrant Google plus account that is links back to their content s that authorship can be verified.

Of course I cannot be sure that they’ve just softly reintroduced this or if my increase in authored content on every platform I can write for has increased exponentially but I do think it’s a good thing that Google are maybe keeping the Authorship preference around search results.

I’m unsure whether Google can ever get the authorship algorithm right so that they always provide top 5 results that include the best writing, the most relevant content and that fully answers the end users search query. Having said that it;s really up to each end every one of us to create content that does all of those things for our own website visitors.

The thing I am sure about is that f website owners and authors create content that is rich in content an relevance, is well written, uses images to illustrate a point, maybe includes video and audio tracks AND most importantly FULLY answers the end users question; then Google will simply have to place that content at the top of the search results.

Is Authorship Dead? Far From it, It’s alive and kicking and headed right for you.

A. ModestMoney

Yes Google Authorship is definitely dead. Just like Google+, it simply didn’t catch on. While it was a solid concept, in practice, too few authors bothered using it. For it to be really effective it needed much more widepread usage. Without that widespread adoption it just furthered skewed things towards SEO pros as they are the ones that would be more likely to try to take advantage of it. Inevitably there would be some marketers who would straight up abuse it. Instead of trying to lump together each author’s writing, Google is more likely to rely on automated ways to gauge content as well as signals such as social media activity.

A. profcopy (Helen Baker)

I am almost sure; it is all about eliminating backlinks as a core ranking factor. The future of authorship will depend on how intensively people will be using other Google products, Google Plus in particular. The more ‘plusing’ and ‘circling’ will be happening, the more personalized search results will be offered to us, consequently eliminating (or considerably reducing the number) ‘clean’ results from to 10. This should probably force digital marketers to focus on ‘building relationships’ via Google Products rather than building links to their websites.

A. Jonathan (Mr)

Google have wanted to pin Author to Content for a while and just because this attempt has been pulled doesn’t mean they will not continue. I think they have something else coming that’s better and more automated (if they have not already deployed it). My gut tells me that they have not had enough impact with it as a manual thing so they need to get automated.

There is the other side of this – did Google do it just to collect a sample pot of data about what certain types of people write about and why? Was this just a huge survey really?

A. Cormac Reynolds (SEO consultant London)

I think it’s dead and gone beyond. Google may try something else but the chances are this is another failed experiment that will go down with Google + as a whole possibly. Who’s to know

A. David Leonhardt (President, THGM )

I am not a fan of authorship across the board, for the simple reason that most information on the Internet is not person-specific.  Good, solid information is usually institutional.

Yes, authorship makes sense for bloggers, consultants, speakers and others who publish their opinions and observations as individuals.  But there is massive news media, eCommerce, government, NGO and service company content that is not attributable and should not be attributable to individual authors.

One of the reasons that authorship died, so we are told, is that there was not a substantial difference in click-throughs for entries with author pics as for regular entries.  I suspect that is because the average person didn’t understand why there were faces next to some of the content.  Some might have thought it meant that this was the face of someone with authority (sometimes rightly so), and been more prone to click on it.  Others might have thought that this was just somebody’s opinion, and not real information (sometimes rightly so), and been less inclined to click on it.

Without fairly sophisticated surveying, it would be hard to tell just what the average non-webmaster was thinking.

For my part, the author pic tells me that it is just someone’s opinion, and unless I know that person and value his/her reputation, it would not greatly change my likelihood to click through, and might even deter me from doing so in favor of a more official page.

Unless Google creates a new “Opinion” search (like the News, Videos and other searches), I suspect that authorship is dead.  But I don’t have a crystal ball, and who knows what clever scheme Google might yet envisage to revive authorship in a more useful manner.

A. Philtrate ( The Teaching Escape Guy)

Google needs every possible signal that might be related to quality. Authorship certainly is, it’s just that in its recent iteration it wasn’t working. At some point in the next 2 or 3 years authorship will be back in a different form.

Perhaps tying it into G+ was the issue, perhaps Google will start an authorship app that is much easier and more intuitive to use than the G+ authorship one was. It needs to be much easier for bloggers and authors both to use if it is to gain any traction. Whether Google will display the authorship in its search results is a different question; I don’t believe author’s photos will be shown in SERPS.

If you’re interested in local SEO or implementing Google Authorship for your business - why not ask an SEO specialist in London and contact us for details. 

Calls to action (CTA) create clicks and clicks create leads – these are the actions you want social media fans to perform.

However, a lot of brands don’t always incorporate effective calls to action in their content and if they do it doesn’t tend to provide a holistic voice, content and strategy. These are the things that can make the difference between a few clicks and dozens of clicks and shares.

CTAs are important as they encourage engagement, clicks and shares and can make the difference between someone glancing over a post or eventually becoming a brand ambassador. So, let’s take a look at how to increase social media CTAs.

call to action

What do you do – Better Calls to Action?

You need to know what your business does, its value and what you want your customer to do before crafting a call to action. This means you need to ask yourself a number of questions:

  • What’s your area of expertise?
  • Are you different from competitors and if so in what way?
  • What do you offer that makes your brand you brand?
  • Can you solve customer’s problems?
  • What do you want your customer to do?

By knowing who you’re talking to and then crafting a message that fits with this, you create connections with customers and grab their attention.

People only Glance – Improve your CTA

People receive around 12 hours of information a day or around 34GBs – that’s a lot even though we filter out much of it. In essence, you don’t want people to filter out your CTA and this means you need to show them exactly what you want them to do. Never assume that people will know what you want them to do, so make sure to craft the CTA in clear language and with high quality imagery.

Urgency works for Calls to Action

All good CTAs have a level of urgency and this means you can’t just show people what you do, you also need to convince people to go with you over alternatives.

The best ways to do this is to understand your audience and then tap into the things they like, find convenient or are interested in. Speaking to your potential customer’s lifestyle and the needs of that lifestyle and then tapping into this through showcasing the things you offer, is a good way to create that sense of urgency.

What do they Want?

People go to particular brands when they want certain experiences and you need to connect with these people in the way they expect – plain, simple language.

Avoid using industry jargon and create CTAs that speak the same language as fans. People like people who are like them, it’s a simple fact of life and brands that realise this are going to succeed far faster than brands that don’t.

Like Everybody Else

There are some amazing statistics out there that suggest asking for a call to action, or seeing that someone else has done so, makes other people respond in the same way.

Nobody likes to be the one to step out of their comfort zone and social media showcases this to a degree. People are far more likely to retweet if you ask them to do so. In addition, Socialbakers found that there’s a 73% higher chance people will retweet if you place ‘RT’ in front of a tweet.

The point is that by asking or showing others have done the same, people will be far more likely to do so. This needs to be consistent and performed on a regular basis.

Imagery also works well with CTAs and in a lot of cases increases the amount of social real estate your post receives and so helps boost awareness and shares to your campaign and increases your CTA.

These tips can be a great help for anyone hoping to improve their call to action in social media and can help you make more of social media. Do you have any tips for better CTAs that we haven’t mentioned above?

If you need help with your CTAs or any other part of the conversion funnel – please get in touch with us. We offer SEO, content creation, web design and a whole host of services.

 

 

I recently read a piece on Search Engine Journal titled – ‘Content Marketing isn’t a Good Marketing Strategy After All’.

To summarise, Stoney G de Geyter makes the argument that content marketing as a route to long term success is a fallacy. The article is based around the old Chinese proverb, ‘Give a man a fish and he’ll have food for one day, teach a man to fish and he’ll have food forever’.

Margaret Thatcher and communityCommunity and Online Content

Stoney essentially pushes the idea that we as marketers or brands need to create communities, not content, as a community is far more likely to create a return visitor to your site – in turn it leads to continuous success, and through conversation allows you to develop relationships and build engaged brand evangelists.

It’s a wonderfully aspirational piece of content and one that in an ideal world is to be aspired to. Sadly, we don’t live in an ideal world. I’m not going to go as far as former British PM Margaret Thatcher and declare community non-existent, but I would suggest it’s a lot of effort and often nigh impossible to create.

On-Page SEO Factors

Last week Matt Cutts answered a question on how Google ranks a webpage with no links to it. On the surface, Matt cited a number of on-page factors as the ranking factor – nothing extraordinary really. However, under the skin there’s a far more interesting context – backlinks rank and rankings bring traffic. Matt of course would never say this outright, but it does go a long way to quelling the link deniers who have come to the fore of SEO very notably of late.

However, the two articles led me to think, which is king – content or links? We’re constantly told that content is king, that content ranks and that great content will give our site exposure.

The Reality of Link Building

However, we all know if I have five pieces of content of identical quality and decide to link to four with different levels of quality and one with no links at all, the one with no links will most likely rank below the other four all other factors being equal. In fact, even if the non-linked piece is even better quality than the other four, it still will probably be the piece that is the dud in the SERPs. That’s the harsh reality.

So, in this case is the quality content the king of link building? No, the links are the king. Of course, the reign of the king is going to be dependent on the quality of the links.

However, the question to be asked here is, ‘if a tree falls in a forest and there’s no one to hear it does it make a sound’, or let’s make an apt though slightly dramatic – ‘Nobody can hear you scream in space’.

Social Media

Of course, you could make the social media argument. Hypothetically, we could build a following of people, use social media to leverage the content we create and then hope those people link to the content from our promoted social media efforts. How practical is that in a boring industry? Particularly in a world where the most popular social media sites don’t officially have any say in search engine rankings?

Guest Posting

However, in a world where most people don’t intend on taking this route and are far more inclined to take the link building option – it’s going to be incredibly hard to compete. Even in light of Matt Cutts guest posting warnings, there’s plenty of other ways to build links Google most likely won’t detect for a long, long time, if ever. I’m not saying these are ideal or right, the point I make is that as long as Google relies on links, they can be manipulated.

In addition, Cutt’s declaration on guest posting looks like in reality it’s only going to impact on low quality sites there for link schemes alone. If it were otherwise the case, Moz.com and all the other industry blogs wouldn’t continue to allow do follow guest posts.

Linking Issues

And after all, a lot of links are paid for in a roundabout way – any SEO who has ever built a link for a client is seeing that client take part in a paid link. There’s money changing hands at some stage, so the link should contravene Google’s quality guidelines.

Google does of course wish to prevent such factors being the ones that determine rank, however until it finds another way of ranking, it looks likely search is going to be determined largely by off-site linking factors. Matt Cutts rigmarole about on-site ranking factors and on-site quality still alludes to this fact.

The Future of No Links

Needless to say Google is trying to change this. We’ve seen Yandex remove links as a ranking factor in local SEO around Moscow and Google has also mentioned how its trialled results without links (they’re a lot less accurate supposedly).

There’s also been discussion around a patent for brand mentions and citations as ranking factors in search. However, as you’ll see this is also fraught with difficulties owing to semantics and other factors.

The Fish Analogy

Going back to de Geyter and the fish analogy, the underlying problem is that in a lot of cases there’s nobody even giving the man the fish.In fact, the only way the man fish initially is either with a stick of dynamite, or else he starves.

Being Irish and part of a nation that tends to have three states of law, I can reconcile to a degree with the current SEO landscape. Rather than a something being legal, or something being illegal, as is the case in most countries in the Western world. In Ireland, we also have a state where something is possibly mildly illegal, but ignored for reasons dependant on the mood of the police officer (once heralded MyBlogGuest = Link scheme), your state of mind (intoxicated or otherwise) or who you are (Google owns a number of companies that have supposedly gotten away with dubious SEO practices).

In conclusion, I’m not advocating anything grey or black. However, in a world where the lines between white and black are being eradicated and a grey area is ever more evident, it would be nice for Matt Cutts and Google to offer more clarity, more openness and for the very evident hypocrisy to end.

What’s your opinion on link building and the future of SEO – why not let us know below or contact us.

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