SEO is an ever-changing beast, being constantly molded and redefined from multiple factors. Factors changing the game of search often originate from Google’s algorithms to stop [or minimize] web-spam and hone the quality of their products. Examples of such web-spam fighting algorithms include Google’s “Penguin” and “Panda” updates, as well as their recent “Page Layout” update. These constantly updated algorithms make the game of search marketing a very unstable, yet very rewarding venture.
When you play the game of search you win or you die. Ok, so the consequences aren’t quite that harsh. Your website isn’t going to explode if you get hit by a “Penguin” or a “Panda”, yet if you are using the wrong tactics things could get very messy. Tactics that would cause such messiness to occur are often referred to as black-hat or gray-hat. Even those who perform what was thought to be white-hat practices are sometimes affected by these updates. As Google’s ideal for the future direction of search changes, their algorithms evolve to scale.
The way to truly win in the game of search is to play for the future. By studying the tread-line of recent and past events SEO’s can gain a better view of the future direction of search.
In the olden days of search (which could be considered to be in the past 10 months) it was still viable to exhaust every resource to appropriate large amounts of on-page links with exact match anchor text, sometimes even in the footer of a site as to have a link coming from every page. This is a perfect example of the old tactics that no longer hold the same weight. Not only do these tactics not hold the same weight anymore but some of them are downright risky. When Google’s “Penguin” update came through it thrashed sites that had these exact sorts of links on low quality sites, directories or sites that just didn’t relate to your page what-so-ever.
In study, SEO’s have realized that the future of search no longer encompasses the rugged approach of acquiring large amounts of links through not-so-clean methods such as burning through email lists to request text links with exact match anchor text or the tactics mentioned above. We have found that it is through fresh content, social engagement and interaction, problem solving and generally doing cool shit that will push you into the limelight, get your company seen, evolve your brand and ultimately get you the business from search that you so crave.
Pushing content that inspires emotion, inspires action, inspires risk-taking or simple laughter will give you and your brand such an edge in the social and search sphere that it can’t be quantified through analytical statistics. Companies like GoPro, RedBull, Apple, or even Google have created such an inspiring image that captures the thoughts and minds of their users and followers in such a way that they will never need to “build” links… they earn them.
GoPro has their incredible sponsored athletes create videos which can be reduced to content for the web. Take this video for example:
This video has been active for 2 days [when writing this post] and it has already been viewed in excess of 3,000,000 times. Their target is to inspire action and when you are taking action you want to record it, so you buy a GoPro. It is the simplest idea for a simple product, but it was the best idea and created the best product in their niche.
Take Felix Baumgartner’s Space Dive, which was sponsored by RedBull: http://www.redbullstratos.com/
This campaign made the whole world stop and watch in awe and dare to imagine. RedBull probably got a few links out of this I would imagine. As I said before, the affect of pushing this sort of content will not be able to be represented in sheer numbers alone, but will propel your brand into the forefront of your niche. You will bypass the engines and get straight to the people, which will in-turn make you #1 in every engine.
Ed Fry wrote about “Outranking Google“ in this SEOmoz post and it is true to every word. By creating a brand that people will want to go to directly and not search for, essentially you are outranking Google. When you outrank Google it is only right that you would be at the top of their SERPs, which is exactly where you will end up.
Your content doesn’t always have to be as grand in scale as RedBull’s Space Dive, it can be something as simple as posting a picture to Facebook of your coffee on the 50 yard line of a football field.
This simple picture running on a trend got Starbucks 27,000 likes and 6,900 shares. What is a share if not a link, a link which is instantly visible to ALL of the person’s friends. If the average Facebook user has 200 friends that would mean those 6,900 people just pushed your content to over 1.3 million people.
So what do we say to the SEO practices of the past?
For some more direct examples of old SEO practices vs future practices check out this SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday by CEO Rand Fishkin, “The Death of Link Building and the Rebirth of Link Earning”