At the office the other day, I made this analogy: Imagine a cookie jar sitting on a counter. Inside is all of the good things you dream of… chocolate chips, chewy oats, crunchy pecans, ranking #1 for your industry keywords…
… bear with me. Search Engine Optimization has only become a more confusing and murky process as time goes on, thanks in no part to marketers who follow SEO trends and run them into the ground. Why has it all happened? Well, picture a gleaming cookie jar sitting on a counter, and a couple of curious online marketing types carefully lifting the lid and reaching inside. When the internet first encountered Google, ranking at the top of it had simple rules and procedures. You want to be at the top for a keyword? Just use that keyword the most. Even if this means white text on a white background that doesn’t inform anybody about what you do, whatever it takes to get you to the top is what you have to do! What happened next? Web designers took that cookie from the cookie jar. But nobody stopped to ask themselves if keyword stuffing was the right thing to do. Because this tactic led marketers to build websites that were dishonest and unusable, Google made an update and took it away: that’s fine. Now we don’t care how many times you use a keyword. Consider that cookie taken from the cookie jar. Then, the next irresistible treat appeared: links! And boy, did we ever link, because Googlebot decided that if a website gets linked to a lot, then that website must be really good. And so, website designers build link rings: hidden pages on client websites, all linking to each other in a giant web, no matter how relevant. And Google saw what was happening, and made an update to take it away: that’s fine. Now we’re going to score links based on relevance. Another cookie taken from the cookie jar. The story has been the exact same since the days when Google’s logo looked like it was made in WordArt. SEOs find a good strategy, overuse it to game the system, and Google adjusts its algorithm:
- • Meta Tags
- • Meta Descriptions
- • Lots of Blog Posts
- • Guest Blog Posts
- • Authorship
- • Social Media Links
- • Localization
… all more or less taken out of the SEO cookie jar due to abuse and overuse by well-meaning and shady web developers alike.
What's A Marketer To Do?
Remember how we’re talking about a cookie jar? You cannot live on a diet of cookies alone – especially once the jar gets empty. I hate to break it to you, but cookies are a snack. Relying on “silver bullet” search ranking boosters is the same as an all-snack diet – make a rule-bending strategy your bread and butter, and you’re going to find yourself feeling the negative impact sooner or later. With SEO, the impact of overusing a single tactic can really hurt when the algorithm is updated. When Google decides to punish an overused SEO strategy, your website can slide down the rankings at a staggering rate.
Stop The Backslide
Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and Mobilegeddon – what all of the "big-name" algorithm updates have sought to do is make the internet more useful, by changing search ranking rules to favor well-made, genuinely helpful websites. The state of Search Engine Optimization strategy right now is acknowledging that there aren’t many cookies left in the cookie jar. Google’s algorithm has become so complex and obfuscated now that there are no “surefire” tricks left out there that aren’t solid, quality marketing. This isn't to say you shouldn't be working hard on improving your SEO; just that to succeed in the modern landscape there are no easy tricks. It takes working hard and working smart. As an ecommerce or business-to-business pro, you know things about your industry and business that make you the right choice for your customers. An online marketing strategy involves you using and sharing that knowledge to make the education, evaluation, and buying processes easier for all of your customers. So pour a glass of milk, grab a chocolate chip cookie, and pick up the phone. Get started on a marketing and website plan with a company that won’t try to sell you on an SEO silver bullet.