I’ve worked with more than a few companies who insist on spending jaw dropping amounts of money every month on retainers for SEO companies. For that money, they generally get “blog posts” that looked like they were written by college freshman, infographics that could better be described as factoids with clip art, and hundreds of “back links” on link farm sites, which they categorize as “social media sharing.” All for the sake of getting back links to increase their Google rankings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said the words: “This is crazy. Not only is it not going to get you anything, but as soon as Google changes their algorithm, it’s going to bite you in the ass in an epic way.” But without fail, every single place I’ve worked with who went this route responded that the SEO company, who they were paying all this money to, assured them it was the right way to go. But of course, they would. That’s how they make their boatloads of money.
They’re about to get bit in an epic way.
Earlier this week, Ken Krogue published this article on Forbes.com: The Death of SEO: The Rise of Social, PR, and Real Content.
He describes a conversation with top SEO consultant Adam Torkildson back in March, who proclaimed that Google was in the process of making SEO obsolete. A bold statement to be sure, but one that seemed to come to fruition a few months later when Google changed their algorithm to decrease to search engine rankings of organizations using schemes to generate “back links” to increase their rankings. Instead, the new algorithm focuses on likes, shares, tweets, reddits and +1s.
Let me say that again.
Google is basing your search engine ranking more on how much your content is shared then on how much your content is linked to. And, no, link farms do not count as social sharing.
This means that having people link to you is no longer enough. That’s easy to fake, and the folks who work at Google are smart enough to realize that. What they’re trying to do, instead, it to identify valuable content, and they’ve determined that link backs make it too easy to game the system. Sharing is harder.
I’ve always said that people miss the point of Google Plus entirely. It’s impact is not that it’s going to kill Facebook. It’s impact is SEO. That’s the real value of getting someone to +1 your content – so Google can see that it is real, and it is valuable and rank it accordingly.
So what does all this mean?
It’s simple: If you want to rank highly in Google, follow these three steps:
- Build community.
- Create great content.
- Get your community to share and like your great content.
It’s all the common sense stuff that we’ve preached about for years, and it sounds easy but its an incredibly hard thing to do. And a lot of higher ups have not yet reached the point where they can completely wrap their head around it. Perhaps this will make it more quantifiable.
The article sums it up nicely:
“Invest in real, valuable, relevant content that your audience wants. Grow your internal thought leaders to where they can add value to your audience and position in the market. Follow internal SEO practices to make sure it is found and sees the light of day. Take the time to make it so compelling so people talk about it and share it.”
A lot of (but not all) SEO companies have grown and thrived by understanding how to game the system. Google just took this shortcut away. Instead, organizations are going to have to spend those ridiculous retainers on SEO companies who do it right – by creating kick ass content – or by taking those resources and investing them in creating that content in-house.
And yes, many SEO consultants are going to fight this and tell you it’s wrong and go down kicking and screaming in a fiery ball of rage. This change means they need to change the way they are operating entirely, and that’s going to be a shock to their wallets. Instead of outsourcing and creating sub-par content, this is going to require them to do actual work.