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  • Is Search Engine Optimization even needed anymore ?


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    #1 spiritus

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    Posted 01 May 2012 - 09:47 AM

    At the bottom of this post is the announcement from Matt Cutts about the algo update commonly known as "Penguin".

    Others have probably already direct linked to this but I thought I would copy the text to make it quicker for us all to read. When others are circling around the facts it is better to go straight to the source.

    The final paragraph struck a chord with me i.e. "We want people doing white hat search engine optimization (or even no search engine optimization at all) to be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling web sites. As always, we’ll keep our ears open for feedback on ways to iterate and improve our ranking algorithms toward that goal."

    Are we reaching a point where any proactive attempt to improve our rankings is simply not worth the effort ? I am playing devil's advocate here to provoke a debate about this but I know Terry Kyle was telling us months ago to diversify away from Google traffic and Terry might possibly also mean diversify away from Search Engine traffic altogether. Sounds scarey when you think about it but don't dismiss it out of hand.

    What Terry has done is built a brand for himself in the SEO niche and brand awareness is one way of bypassing Google. Build a brand in your niche and get people want to come to you.

    I don't think SEO is dead but it is time we all accept that it is not a sustainable business model. I cringe inside when I hear of guys on other forums bragging that they've just rented a brand new office area and employed a team of staff when they think they've hit paydirt. As far as I'm concerned, if I can make $ 50, 000 from my spare bedroom then why increase my overheads ?

    This brings me onto another point which I refer to as "Riding the Wave". Although I now firmly believe building a business around SEO is not sustainable because it is out of our control that doesn't mean we can't still find ways to exploit weaknesses in the Google algorithm and mark my words, once the smoke clears, there will be vulnerabilities in the Penguin update that we can exploit..........until the next update.

    So although our business model may not be sustainable we can "ride the wave" while it lasts. As long as you have the mindset that any gains you're making is only temporary and don't go and do something stupid like take a new mortgage out on your dream home anticipating your online income will be stable (or increase) then there's no shame in accepting that any current profits you are making are short lived.

    Google has said before that search engine optimization, or SEO, can be positive and constructive—and we're not the only ones. Effective search engine optimization can make a site more crawlable and make individual pages more accessible and easier to find. Search engine optimization includes things as simple as keyword research to ensure that the right words are on the page, not just industry jargon that normal people will never type.

    “White hat” search engine optimizers often improve the usability of a site, help create great content, or make sites faster, which is good for both users and search engines. Good search engine optimization can also mean good marketing: thinking about creative ways to make a site more compelling, which can help with search engines as well as social media. The net result of making a great site is often greater awareness of that site on the web, which can translate into more people linking to or visiting a site.

    The opposite of “white hat” SEO is something called “black hat webspam” (we say “webspam” to distinguish it from email spam). In the pursuit of higher rankings or traffic, a few sites use techniques that don’t benefit users, where the intent is to look for shortcuts or loopholes that would rank pages higher than they deserve to be ranked. We see all sorts of webspam techniques every day, from keyword stuffing to link schemes that attempt to propel sites higher in rankings.

    The goal of many of our ranking changes is to help searchers find sites that provide a great user experience and fulfill their information needs. We also want the “good guys” making great sites for users, not just algorithms, to see their effort rewarded. To that end we’ve launched Panda changes that successfully returned higher-quality sites in search results. And earlier this year we launched a page layout algorithm that reduces rankings for sites that don’t make much content available “above the fold.”

    In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm change targeted at webspam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can't divulge specific signals because we don't want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.

    Here’s an example of a webspam tactic like keyword stuffing taken from a site that will be affected by this change:



    Posted Image


    Of course, most sites affected by this change aren’t so blatant. Here’s an example of a site with unusual linking patterns that is also affected by this change. Notice that if you try to read the text aloud you’ll discover that the outgoing links are completely unrelated to the actual content, and in fact the page text has been “spun” beyond recognition:


    Posted Image


    Sites affected by this change might not be easily recognizable as spamming without deep analysis or expertise, but the common thread is that these sites are doing much more than white hat SEO; we believe they are engaging in webspam tactics to manipulate search engine rankings.

    The change will go live for all languages at the same time. For context, the initial Panda change affected about 12% of queries to a significant degree; this algorithm affects about 3.1% of queries in English to a degree that a regular user might notice. The change affects roughly 3% of queries in languages such as German, Chinese, and Arabic, but the impact is higher in more heavily-spammed languages. For example, 5% of Polish queries change to a degree that a regular user might notice.

    We want people doing white hat search engine optimization (or even no search engine optimization at all) to be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling web sites. As always, we’ll keep our ears open for feedback on ways to iterate and improve our ranking algorithms toward that goal.

    Posted by Matt Cutts, Distinguished Engineer


    #2 Shaun.p

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    Posted 01 May 2012 - 10:44 AM

    According to me the SEO will become stronger with updates like this. Lets face this fact Google does not want SEO to exist (As SEO is harming their business model). And to do that Google has messed up big with its search algorithm. And if BIng or other search engines can take the advantage, Google as a company is in trouble.

    #3 colourofspring

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    Posted 01 May 2012 - 11:23 AM

    What Terry has done is built a brand for himself in the SEO niche and brand awareness is one way of bypassing Google. Build a brand in your niche and get people want to come to you.


    What about the vast majority of e-commerce sites that sell boring-but-needed products? How do they become "remarkable" and linkworthy? Their customer base want their products, but Google may deem them as being unremarkable, therefore unrankable. I think Google need to address small to medium size businesses and their goals and maybe even have some kind of "business rank" that involves some manual reviews. This one-size-fits-all "remarkable content is rankworthy" nonsense shouldn't be part of small to medium size business that offer really good services and products, but may not win the natural links they need to rank. There needs to be some kind of ranking system that puts these in high positions based on their quality of product or service, NOT on links - links do not determine how good a service or product is.

    #4 spiritus

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    Posted 01 May 2012 - 12:46 PM

    What about the vast majority of e-commerce sites that sell boring-but-needed products? How do they become "remarkable" and linkworthy? Their customer base want their products, but Google may deem them as being unremarkable, therefore unrankable. I think Google need to address small to medium size businesses and their goals and maybe even have some kind of "business rank" that involves some manual reviews. This one-size-fits-all "remarkable content is rankworthy" nonsense shouldn't be part of small to medium size business that offer really good services and products, but may not win the natural links they need to rank. There needs to be some kind of ranking system that puts these in high positions based on their quality of product or service, NOT on links - links do not determine how good a service or product is.


    That's true-most e-commerce sites are in the small to mid-sized range and people don't really link to them.

    Could it possibly be a case that in the near future backlinks will no longer be valued signals of a site's quality ? Cutts is saying that Google want to allow ALL sites to flourish even those who do not perform any SEO.

    #5 colourofspring

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    Posted 01 May 2012 - 12:59 PM

    Could it possibly be a case that in the near future backlinks will no longer be valued signals of a site's quality ? Cutts is saying that Google want to allow ALL sites to flourish even those who do not perform any SEO.


    Spiritus, I really hope so. All conspiracy theories aside, if Google truly want the best results in their SERPs, they need to start realising you can't do everything with an algorithm. Human curation is necessary (along with an algorithm) to get the best SERPs. I've heard it all before though - Google prefer an algorithm since it's agnostic and impartial (with the odd manual poke here and there). Yet, it can't discriminate between site A (e-commerce site, genuine business, good track record) and site B (thin affiliate, no value added) because maybe both sites have dodgy links pointing to them - both arbitrarily become "webspam" in the myopic eyes of the algorithm.

    As mentioned before, a site can provide a wonderful service or product, yet it's content may be middling just because of the nature of the service or product they provide. Therefore, the white hats are wrong when they bang on about "content is king" - not always. We're not all pundits and commentators. Some of us run a real business selling real stuff to real people. We want search engines to help facilitate our transaction. Buyers want to find us. We want to sell to them. End of story. Job done. They don't want to read my "remarkable" blog, they want to buy things and see some signs of trust (testimonials, reviews etc). eBay and Amazon sellers don't need to create remarkable content - they just put their stuff up online and stick a price next to it, maybe with some reviews, that's it. So why do so many SMBs have to have this ridiculous burden of having to create "remarkable content" when their product or service is decent to good to very good, but not "remarkable" in the way pundits and commentators can make a remarkable comment?

    Edited by colourofspring, 01 May 2012 - 01:07 PM.


    #6 spiritus

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    Posted 01 May 2012 - 03:07 PM

    Spiritus, I really hope so. All conspiracy theories aside, if Google truly want the best results in their SERPs, they need to start realising you can't do everything with an algorithm. Human curation is necessary (along with an algorithm) to get the best SERPs. I've heard it all before though - Google prefer an algorithm since it's agnostic and impartial (with the odd manual poke here and there). Yet, it can't discriminate between site A (e-commerce site, genuine business, good track record) and site B (thin affiliate, no value added) because maybe both sites have dodgy links pointing to them - both arbitrarily become "webspam" in the myopic eyes of the algorithm.

    As mentioned before, a site can provide a wonderful service or product, yet it's content may be middling just because of the nature of the service or product they provide. Therefore, the white hats are wrong when they bang on about "content is king" - not always. We're not all pundits and commentators. Some of us run a real business selling real stuff to real people. We want search engines to help facilitate our transaction. Buyers want to find us. We want to sell to them. End of story. Job done. They don't want to read my "remarkable" blog, they want to buy things and see some signs of trust (testimonials, reviews etc). eBay and Amazon sellers don't need to create remarkable content - they just put their stuff up online and stick a price next to it, maybe with some reviews, that's it. So why do so many SMBs have to have this ridiculous burden of having to create "remarkable content" when their product or service is decent to good to very good, but not "remarkable" in the way pundits and commentators can make a remarkable comment?


    I agree with you buddy.

    "Content is king" but define "content" ?

    I could build an affliate site selling pashmina scarves. I could write about where the pashmina originated from. I could write a guide to the different types of silk used, famous people who wear pashminas, how to clean your pashmina scarf etc etc but another website may simply be an e-store and all they offer are 10 pages of product items selling pashmina scarves. Each product will have a five line specification description (largely repeated across the whole product catalog) and that's pretty much it.

    I have heard other members say their e-commerce stores have also been affected by Penguin (and by Panda) but I still have a nagging feeling that unfair weight is given to e-commerce sites as opposed to rich content affiliate sites.

    Now as a potential customer and Google user-if someone wants to buy pashmina scarves do they want to read the history of the scarf or would they rather go to an e-store and simply click on an image and then go to checkout ??

    Which content is better ? Which content is more relevant to the user's search intentions ?

    #7 maretus

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    Posted 01 May 2012 - 03:08 PM

    As long as there is a way to make lots of money from google and other search engines, seo will be needed. It will evolve and may one day become something that doesn't even resemble what it is now, but people will always optimize their websites as long as it is a way to make them money.

    Google wants you to stop doing seo. They want all of us to and that's why they say things like they don't want people to have to do seo.

    Edited by maretus, 01 May 2012 - 03:09 PM.


    #8 JSP

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    Posted 01 May 2012 - 03:25 PM

    Google wants your money and is trying to do whatever it can to get it.

    Side note, the mass hysteria at "other" forums is insane. People are in full-blown panic mode about SEO and I'll bet plenty are moving towards PPC. Which I'm sure Google is LOVING.

    Edited by JSP, 01 May 2012 - 03:26 PM.


    #9 yougotmymoney

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    Posted 01 May 2012 - 04:12 PM

    I'm still doing SEO, but I'm also doing PPV and Email Spam to pay the bills. I am also putting together a keyword list of under $1/cost per click, to try out Google AdWords.

    #10 junkdna

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    Posted 01 May 2012 - 04:54 PM

    I'm still doing SEO, but I'm also doing PPV and Email Spam to pay the bills. I am also putting together a keyword list of under $1/cost per click, to try out Google AdWords.


    Jeah, I am looking into that as well. What are conversions like on email? Are you doing insurance type of things or weight loss / work from home type of things?
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    #11 yougotmymoney

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    Posted 01 May 2012 - 04:59 PM

    I'm doing insurance, it's what I know, so it's what I stick with for now. For emails, I got Interspire, loaded a list of 1300 old internet leads from jan, and just hit them within 10 min....19 people opened the email....I'm sure a lot of spam filters blocked it...since most of the people who opened it were yahoo accounts......2 click throughs, 1 lead form completed. So using this method, without tweaking the emails/settings or anything , run this 24/7 I should make at least an extra $150.00/day.

    #12 junkdna

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    Posted 01 May 2012 - 05:29 PM

    So basically, 1 sale in 1,300 emails.

    Be careful with spam filters. They'll decimate your earnings. there are few good guides around how to avoid them.
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    #13 NegSEO

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    Posted 01 May 2012 - 06:29 PM

    I don't think SEO is dead but it is time we all accept that it is not a sustainable business model.


    What classifies as sustainable in the rapidly changing online world anyway? Just 10 years ago, Google was just starting to get big; there was no Facebook, Twitter, or any of those sites.

    While making your site into a social hub of sorts may help you, you still need to seed it with plenty of SEO/PPC traffic to make it worth your while. Look at Bodybuilding.com for instance (popular forum, popular ecommerce store, and plenty of articles) - a good site to emulate as far as sustainability is concerned but if they had been slapped by the G in the early stages, they wouldn't be where they are today

    #14 colourofspring

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    Posted 02 May 2012 - 12:22 AM

    Now as a potential customer and Google user-if someone wants to buy pashmina scarves do they want to read the history of the scarf or would they rather go to an e-store and simply click on an image and then go to checkout ??


    That's just it - there are different types of searches - informational and transactional. Google needs to give searchers what they want. A search for "pashmina" should tell Google it's far more likely to be a transactional search just by looking at their previous data and what searchers have clicked on in the past. If they're clicking 95+% on e-commerce results, it's likely to be a transactional keyword, therefore a wikipedia entry / info sites shouldn't really be in the top 10.





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