Posted March 22, 2012.
Semantic search, rich snippets, personalized and local search results and social media indicators are definitely what we can expect to see in the future of the search results, with semantic search results and social media playing the biggest part of the game.
From my perspective it doesn’t look like SEO is dead but it definitely looks like SEOs everywhere will, over the next few months have some changing or relearning to do. If you’ve read the lastest SEO news you know that Google will be making substantial changes to their search results related to the semantic web over the next few months. If you combine that information with the fact that social media plays a big part in website search rankings, we could infer that SEO may indeed be dead or at least that we’ll have take an active stance on the necessity of teaching our clients how to do search marketing and a form of SEO themselves.
Another contender is Google’s proclaimed over-optimization penalty which is touted as the leveller of the playing field when it comes to businesses – big or small – winning or losing in the search results. If Google finds your page is overly-SEO’d and if you’re gaining links unnaturally, your pages or the pages of your clients may be dropped to lower positions.
When this is said and done, the business that has a website that offers great and relavent content, is shared by people in their social circles, and has a valid social media property on the web will rank higher in the search results than the website with the most links pointing to it and the most SEO applied to it.
The new SEO is almost here. The days are long gone where a client calls us and wants us to get them on the first page of Google for a set of keywords; we ask for their FTP information, put together a keyword list, make some website edits and additions, write some articles, get some links and voila – we get them ranked.
The days where a client calls you once a week seeking reports while you rake in the cash has disappeared too. If your website is ranking at the top today, be on the lookout and watch what your competitors are doing. From a social media standpoint they could be taking off and ready to knock you back to the fifth position. With the launching of the new social semantic web, the search results will almost never be the same for any two people at any given time.
Now a business owner with a website has to worry about and consider having a personal Twitter account, a blog that can be explicitly traced back to them as the author of the content, a Facebook account and Facebook business page, a Google+ page and quite possibly a Tumblr and Posterous property while the list just can go on and on.
Their first question you will hear is “What am I going to do with these accounts?” Good question but as every SEO who’s up with the times knows, they’ll have to do quite a lot – they’ll have to be working with you and a lot of the times side by side.
You’ll have to take my statement that the new SEOs will be business owners with a grain of salt but it’s definitely true. The initial interactions between the business owner and their social media accounts etc. (under the advice and guidance of an SEO or Internet marketer) will, should, can and may actually produce results one would expect to see after the work of an SEO.
Unless they’re technical with a knowledge of HTML, there’s no way they’ll be able to take care of the on-page SEO but once that job is done, and done right, they’re going to have to take one of the reins and get their business service website popular and out there. On their own, they’re going to have to get (respectfully, no spam) into people’s faces – their friends, family and colleagues – all through their own accounts – on their own in order to keep it right.
The business owner is going to need to learn the value of creating a Lens (Squidoo), optimizing their LinkedIn account with their history and business service information, writing articles that can be attributed to his actual person. They’ll have to learn the importance of writing up a decent Wikipedia entry and joining forums where their potential customers hand out. They’ll have to answer questions, respond to reviews. With the new social semantic search on the way, the work-from-home SEO is going to have to do a lot of training if he’s going to see the success of his clients SEO campaigns.
To put it another way, in the near future SEOs won’t see as much positive results by creating pseudo business accounts and representing the business owner, by trying to sell products, engage clients, explain the services, write articles, answer questions and reviews or the whole slew of behaviours the business owner will have to and should do themselves. It’s not ethical, it’s not right and eventually the slackness of the work will seep through the cracks while your clients walks out the door.
We’re about to travel the road of proving who you are, proving the business you own, proving your knowledge in the field, defending your products or services, answering questions by clients, creating great content, throwing great events and contests, offering free things, throwing sweepstakes and much more. Your SEO is probably a web designer too and that’s where he or she will come in by helping you get your information on the web, in the right places and in front of the right people.
I will add that I really feel for the in-house SEOs and even the business owners that won’t get the point of this article. The SEO probably will, overtly or instinctively try communicating such obvious changes in the SEO world to his or her boss but to no avail. No changes will be made, clients will get bored and see their sites lose traffic and rankings and ultimately decide they’d like to go elsewhere. It happens every time. You gain one, you lose one. The mixture of EGO combined with a lack of knowledge in the ever-changing field is the recipe for a complete SEO failure.
On-page SEO will always be a technical service every website will need unless it’s straight-forward SEO development and design. Either way what’s going to take over is semantic search and great content.
That great content can take place in the form of surveys with free gifts once completed, sweepstakes, draws, special invites, neat games, free downloads, special offers on products or services, posting pictures of events, throwing parties, fund-raising and a slew of other types of engaging scenarios.
These type of offerings to your social media fan base are the things that will make you stand out from the rest – from the other Facebook and Google+ pages. But the interesting thing about this fact is that it’s already been going on for some time. So what will be the difference?
The difference will be in the social sphere – your social circles. Now with Google trying to identify the authors of content, calculate the value of content based on social shares, combined with personalized (or semantic) search results and a lack of any over-SEO tactics identified, the business owner offering information and messages based on a true understanding of the product and a genuine passion to sell their services, will see traffic to their website increase and in most cases the rankings rise higher up the page in the search results.
It looks like Google will eventually defeat the rigging-SEO while great content is presented to the user just like the search engine first intended to do. We will have to see.
Feel free to comment on this article below. I’d appreciate your thoughts and views.