You may have seen a few posts around the web about Google’s Panda and Penguin updates. Essentially they removed a lot of the low level SEO manipulation going on in the industry. Lots of websites were affected because SEO companies have been selling cheap SEO for years by selling huge link packages that Google accepted as a valid ranking signals.
However that has all changed and lots of people are arguing that SEO is dead and all is lost. That is not true. SEO is now less technical and easier than ever. Here’s why.
1) Social Signals for High Rankings
It is very well established that Google uses social signals from Facebook likes, twitter shares and its own +1 buttons to tell if a piece of content on a website (i.e., a blog post) is worth ranking. For example, if you write a great post about something newsworthy in your industry and it gets some shares on social networks, Google will rank the post high up in the search results for the posts main keywords for a few days. After a few days it will then drop in rank.
2) Links Still Count
Links are still the main ranking signal for Google. However low quality links such as generic directories, social bookmarking websites etc have zero value. Links however from blogs, newsworthy websites, industry websites, government websites etc are highly valued. Of course they are much harder to achieve than paying someone in a developing country to submit your website to 5,000 directories.
3) Social First, Links Second
SEO is actually pretty simple if you look at what Google is doing with the social signals for rankings. Produce a good piece of content, share it with your current audience by email, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks alike. If it’s good, they will share it. The people they share with will also share it. Google will reward you with high rankings for a few days.
Now you will get additional traffic from Google. If the content is really good, they will share it too and eventually it will pass by someone who has a blog, or is a journalist or is involved in an industry website. If they then link to it from their own website, whola! An organic editorial link which Google loves. If on the other hand the content is boring and no one shares it, then nothing will really happen.
Yes that is a huge simplification, but it’s an easy way of understanding how it works. You don’t have to worry too much about “canonicalisation” or “301 redirects” or “keyword density”. This stuff really doesn’t matter if you are creating great content that solves people’s problems and is share worthy. However do keep an eye on what people have coined Google’s Author Rank signal.