Is SEO really dead? My take – hell no! However, if we compare SEO today to the days of old we are faced with a very different challenge than ever before.
In the past, SEO “pros” used to buy the latest wizbang software that would “annihilate” the Google rankings. Truth be told, some of these tools (such as SENuke, XRumer and Scrapebox to name a few) definitely had the power to build such a large number of links to your site that Google was forced to notice your site. The only assumption the old algorithm could make is that “well, if 100,000 sites are pointing to this one with the anchor text ‘buy green widgets’ it must be one of the most important sites on the web for ‘buy green widgets’ and we should rank it accordingly.” If THAT is your definition of SEO, then yes. That SEO has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.
As Google’s algorithm gets more and more intelligent over the years, it has learned to recognize who real influencers are. It’s not hard for Google to see how many Facebook friends or followers someone has.
If a person with more reach, a share from them may weigh heavier than from dummy accounts with other dummy account friends. Same with Twitter. Services like Klout function in a similar fashion to Google PageRak. The more influencers who follow what you have to say, the more powerful you are determined to be. Google’s algorithm can tap into this data when analyzing what search results should be ranked where for a given keyword term.
Influencers also exist in the blogosphere. When looking beyond just PageRank, we can look at which blog had a high count of twitter followers. A link from an influencers blog obviously has value but also keep in mid that each social share that page gets is a signal to the algorithm that it’s trustworthy. Additionally, each tweet of that pages content will typically build a link into that post. This creates a natural pyramid of link authority flowing back to the mentioned site.
Influencers are going beyond just search rankings as Google moves into local solutions with Google+Local. They have recently announced REAL accounts that level 50 or more reviews will become more trusted than other G+ reviewers. Competitor Yelp has created something similar, the “Yelp Elite” program of local influencer.
As Google continues to iterate its algorithm which leaves more and more business owners extremely nervous, it’s time to shift our thoughts from what SEO once was to what marketing has always been: gaining the trust of influencers who share your product or service with the world. It’s not only the most sure fire and effective SEO approach moving forward, it’s also the best way to market your business.