It may be time to shed a tear for the soon to be extinct career of “SEO Consultant.” Just as the profession of lithographic strippers evaporated once Photoshop was able to provide CMYK layers ready for burning to plate, the industry built around the prospect of being able to “game” those omnipotent search engine rankings took a severe beating by the Three Horsemen Of The Googlepocalypse: Farmer, Panda and Penguin. However, it took the Fourth Horseman to truly turn SEO into DOA… the advent of social media sharing as a factor that outweighs the other considerations in the bot algorithms.
The Voodoo They Do
According to a recent study by Searchmetrics, the practice of “conventional SEO” and even the voodoo that they do over in blackhatworld.com doesn’t add up to much effect on the SERPs any longer. Remember all the olde tyme mantras of the SEO crowd, such as keywords in H1; title character length; word counts; and the rest of the abstract website prerequisites search engine imposed on online marketers for almost two decades? Gone. Actually it’s even worse as the study found that those factors actually have a negative ranking factor. Therefore, applying the stratagems previously lauded as the “inside track” to high SERPs are now actually counter-productive to the point where they will diminish your search engine ranking position!
Topsy-Turvy World of Social Media Driving SERPs
So what does work in this topsy-turvy upside down world of social media driving SERPS? The study found that the sweet spot for what was once called SEO can be located through these five key policies:
- Social media signals equate with high SERPs – Toss out everything that you knew about SEO, as the way to score those SERPs now is to play the social media game. Scoop up those likes, comments and overall shares and forget the time-honored task of cramming keywords to specific percentages.
- Top brands have the advantage – Instead of acting like a Great Equalizer, the latest search engine algorithms are skewed towards benefiting the big guns. That’s not great news for the millions of small business online marketers who now find that the climb to the top has become considerably steeper.
- Over-advertising is a negative – The algorithms seem to favor a more balanced approach to advertising placements and will actually assess demerits if the advertising presence is seen by its formulas to be excessive. What is too much advertising and what is just right? You’ll need a Mithraic Pontiff interpreting the Holy Entrails for the answer to that particular question… either that or perform a Vulcan Mind Meld on Google Guru Matt Cutts.
- Link quality trumps link quantity – There is no longer any advantage to cultivating massive amounts of links from indifferent websites, as the evaluation of what determines a quality website is now irrevocably synchronized with the search engine value of that link. A link from CNN.com has always outweighed a link from CatfishNoodlingNews.com, but now the established mega-websites have a literal monopoly on the “quality link” business.Only the fifth and last finding shows that there may still be an iota of breath left in the SEO pseudo-corpse:
- Keyword inclusion in the domain still means something – Although keyword inclusion in just about everything else has been devalued to a huge extent, there is still value in incorporating your keyword into the domain name itself. Therefore CatfishNoodlingNews.com is still preferable to BubbasHillbillyMessinAround.com.
Remarkably out of the top six ranking factors, the traditional mainstays of SEO score only once and in second place. Backlink Numbers is the only conventional strategy left in the social SERP age, with the other five out of the top six spots being taken over by:
- Facebook Shares
- Facebook Total Signals
- Facebook Comments
- Facebook Likes
This study points the way to the future where the SEO Consultant will be shown the door and the social media expert will occupy the highest echelons of online marketer worship! Adieu, SEO!