SEO is dead – or is it?

I’ve read several blog pieces of late announcing the death of SEO. Damn. Just when I’ve started to wrap my brain around the concept, they’ve gone and buried it. But is it really dead?

When I first learned that you could manipulate or optimise searches on Google, I remember thinking “..what happens when everyone catches up and SEOs their websites? How will the battle for the front page of Google searches be won?” I honestly thought SEO would end up eating itself.

After further reading, I’ve come to the conclusion that no, SEO is not dead, its just in transformation-mode. Like a caterpillar to a butterfly. The very nature of the online beast is to continually evolve and change. And as online people, it is our job to stay abreast of these changes and adapt.

So relax everyone, SEO isn’t dead. It’s just undergoing a spiritual makeover. Previously, people were optimising their sites and content for technology’s sake; trying to ensure their brands/websites/products were more visible than those of their competitors. Now, we’re seeing a shift towards optimising for people and users – not technology. Author of blog Lee Odden put it nicely when he said SEO is now about “[ing] something meaningful, not mechanical”.

Ladies and gentlemen, social engagement is where it’s at.

Google has rolled out new search algorithm updates called Panda and Penguin respectively.

Panda’s function is to enforce Google’s best practice guidelines for those wishing to optimise their websites. It effectively punishes sites by devaluing their page rank. Panda will punish you if you publish content that is too keyword heavy, copied, misleading or false.

Penguin is being hailed as the muscle that would put a halt on overly-optimised websites. Google thinks that overly-optimising your site isn’t funny or smart or fair and wants the web to be a unprejudiced and impartial resource for all to enjoy; not some dodgy $2 shop encyclopaedia overrun with websites that aim to spam you with their links and misleading fodder.

In launching Penguin, Google has emphasised to marketers who use the internet to stop with the smoke and mirrors and start with the people. If you have a no-bullsh*t website, Google will like you and the results will become apparent in your analytics.

This shift in behaviour will see an increase in more meaningful exchange and discussion between brands, businesses and organisations online. Hopefully a new era where we see real social online communities helping each other out, sharing information, disagreeing about stuff, proving points – all normal human interaction stuff. Lovely.

And in amongst all this, SEO is absolutely relevant; it still has a purpose and a place.  In order for search engines to know what your site is about, keywords need to be included in your content, just not too many.

Here’s a link to a piece from Fast Company that helps you understand how to leverage each social channel’s particular properties so as to keep it real.

We know this stuff. If you are looking to delicately SEO your website or need a little leverage help, get in touch.

Image credit: wallygrom via Flickr Creative Commons