Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) still Relevant?

by Bob Ruffolo on May 14, 2012

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Search Engine Optimization

When people ask me a question like this, I’ve got to admit… my jaw drops a bit. Search engine optimization is as relevant now as it’s ever been.  For whatever reason, there seems to be a rumor going around on the ‘web that SEO is no longer as important, or even important at all, when it comes to online marketing.


This couldn’t be less true.


The Right Kind of SEO


Here’s where I think people are getting confused: SEO has changed over the years.  In some ways, very slightly, and in other ways, dramatically. But SEO is still present and still makes a huge impact on where you rank when it comes to search engines.


Let’s rewind, say, to 10 years ago. This is the era when most people were familiar with blatant and ugly SEO techniques. These techniques are called “Black Hat SEO” techniques.  This type of SEO was most obvious to people because it was all about keyword stuffing, which is what people have come to associate SEO with.


For example, the sentence “If you want to buy from a car dealership, you will want to find a car dealership that is a reputable car dealership and that is a car dealership that offers good financing” is a good example of what most people associate with SEO (with the keywords here obviously being “car dealership”).


If you’ve hit up the web recently, you’ve probably noticed a drastic decline in these types or articles existing on the web. Why? Because search engines changed their search algorithm.  Google finally said, “I’m sick of this!” and tailored their search engine so that websites that were cluttered with garbage content that is just parked there for the purpose of keyword stuffing would either a) be ranked extremely low to the point where no one can find that website, or b) be blocked forever from their search engines.


But Google changing their search algorithm doesn’t mean that SEO is no longer relevant; all that this means is that the rules of SEO have changed, and in my opinion, for the better.


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Useful Content


Search engines know what it takes to have people continually coming back to them, and they finally figured out that people go on the web not for useless content, but for useful content.  Search algorithms have now been tailored to favor websites that have quality content that is of benefit to the person who is seeking it.


Do keywords still play an important role in SEO?  Yes, of course.  But it’s no longer all about how many keywords you can shove into every corner of a website.  It’s about how well the content flows and how readable it is.  It’s about how much fresh content is being added regularly.  It’s about the quality of backlinks that you get from your visitors.


Backlinks are an important part to SEO.  Think of backlinks in terms of “votes”.  Every time you get a backlinks, you get a vote from that person. That vote is essentially telling search engines that yes, the website you’re on is one of quality and is worthy of being highly ranked in a search engine because it matches what you were looking for.


A lot of people also don’t realize that other online marketing methods, like video marketing campaigns, can play a huge role in their SEO.  This may not have been true 5 years ago, but now videos on a website can catapult a site from sitting on page 13 of the search engines to page 2.  Search engines know that people prefer videos over reading text and will give a higher ranking to sites that include different media like videos and images than those that don’t.


These are just a couple of examples of how SEO has changed over the years, and it will continue to change as the Internet continues to mature and grow.  So is SEO still relevant?  Yes, and it forever will be.  It’s all just a matter of learning the rules of the game and then learning how to apply those rules to your online marketing campaign.


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Key Takeaways:


SEO is just as relevant today as it has always been. The techniques may change from year to year, making it imperative that you stay on top of “what works” and “what doesn’t”, but SEO is the number one thing that will keep your site ranking high in search engines.


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