OK, I may just be talking myself out of a career here and any SEOs listening may want to hit me with sticks in a minute, but I’m going to court controversy and say that you don’t really need SEOs anymore; we’re redundant!
Thanks to Google and all the changes they have made recently, there is no longer a place for the marketing companies of the past, who would do all of your search engine optimisation for you for a monthly fee. Instead, we have now entered a brave new world, where getting your website to rank is as much the responsibility of the business owner and its employees as it is any external online marketer.
But how have we got to this situation and why am I making such drastic statements? Well I’ll tell you.
Once Upon A Time…
Here at GrowTraffic, we’ve been peddling the old SEO, amongst many other things, for a good few years now and one thing we can say for certain is that things have changed a good deal in the past year or two. Once upon a lovely time, we would take on new clients, work our magic in the background and do a little onsite optimisation, then hand everything back to the business owner, safe in the knowledge that we had secured their rankings for a little while at the very least.
Now I’m not saying that we dabbled in what webmasters call ‘black hat’ tactics; we were honest and ethical (as we are now!) and always optimised websites using our not inconsiderable skills and general brilliance. Unfortunately, not everyone else out there on the web was as conscientious as us and, in an effort to remedy this, Google made some seismic changes to their algorithms, which basically turned SEO on its head.
If we look at search from Google’s point of view, which I always try to do (of course!), then their reasoning for these changes is perfectly understandable; if their search engine doesn’t return users the best possible websites for their search term then they’ll use a different search engine. “Simples”
Hence, as Google openly states, everything it does is aimed at promoting the websites that offer the best user experience and answer whatever questions the searcher is asking. If useless, irrelevant websites are getting to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) simply because they can buy more spammy backlinks than the fantastic but financially poorer websites, then searchers won’t get what they’re looking for and Google will have failed in its mission.
Google’s Algorithms Change
And so, in 2013, Google launched a series of algorithm updates and amendments, all of which had zoological names (Hummingbird, Panda, Penguin etc.); you probably have neither the need nor the desire to know the ins and outs of these so suffice to say that they were all aimed at promoting websites that had great content and an unbeatable user experience, whilst at the same time relegating those undesirable websites to SERP Hell (or, as we call it, page 12).
Almost overnight, the internet shifted slightly, in my opinion for the better, and the role of the humble SEO Marketer changed.
What Does It All Mean?
To put it in a nutshell, it means that you have to have a blinking good website!
Simplifying it to the extreme, the parameters by which Google judges how good a website is, and the punishments it deals out to those it thinks have broken the rules, have changed. As a result, so have the methods that you need to use to get your website noticed and the message is clear; do it properly and do it well.
Mediocre websites will no longer cut the mustard; crucially, you have to have a website that is well designed and easy to navigate, you must answer the questions your customers are going to ask, you must provide regularly updated, original and interesting content that visitors will want to read and share, you must mix up your formats to include text, images and videos and, whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to engage with social media.
Obviously, that list is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of the direction that your online marketing should be heading in, and how much work is involved, in this post-Hummingbird world.
So Where Do SEOs Fit In?
The biggest change that all of Google’s dabbling has caused is, as I said at the beginning, that we online marketers are no longer able to do all of this for you and, however large or small your business, unless you’re willing to pay thousands of pounds monthly, then you are unfortunately going to have to take some responsibility for your website and its success.
I have read numerous blogs and articles over the past few months that have confidently stated that SEO is dead and online marketers are redundant. I’m one of them, although, before I leave you, I’d just like to quantify that assurance somewhat.
In terms of our pre-Hummingbird thinking then yes, what we considered to be SEO is dead, the reason being that getting your website to the top of Google is simple; you just have to have a better website than any of your competitors.
In reality however, life is never quite that black and white and the majority of small to medium business owners out there are going to need a little bit of help and advice on how to make their website jaw-droppingly amazing. As such, I now like to think of myself as an SEO Consultant; I’m not necessarily going to do it for you, but I’ll certainly help you do it and give you the benefit of my many years of experience. And you can’t say fairer than that can you?!
Despite my rather extreme statement at the beginning of this blog, and despite all the twists and turns that Google have treated us to over the past year or so, I’d like to think that my knowledge and expertise in the crazy world of search engine optimisation will not go to waste and that someone, somewhere will still need my help.
Instead of redundant, I’m going to think of my role as revised; whether or not I’m deluding myself will wait to be seen.