Despite persistent claims that SEO is dead, Google is a $360 billion dollar company (by market capitalization) and is now the second largest company in the United States behind Apple. Over 90% of Google’s revenues are derived from AdWords, and most AdWords pay-per-click revenues are a derivative of organic search. SEO is not dead. Far from it. The company, however, is getting better and better at closing the SEO loopholes that have enabled some SEO firms to game Google’s search engine over the years.
Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, in fact, have aggressively shut-down many of on-page and off-page SEO techniques. Unfortunately, many businesses that have made it through the first several rounds of major updates think that they are in the clear. This is not the case, as many more algorithm updates are on the horizon. As of this writing, the last major Penguin update (Penguin 2.1) was October 4th 2013. We are long overdue for Penguin 2.x or Penguin 3.0. Penguin updates in particular have been increasing in their potency, sending many top ranking websites into search engine abyss.
All businesses, large and small, need to take a more proactive role in their company’s SEO activities. Too many companies today buy SEO services like they are ordering a side a French fries – or they ignore it altogether. For example, in April Ryanair took a financial hit when they re-designed their corporate website with a complete disregard of SEO and their strong organic rankings tanked. All CEOs should understand the SEO health and status of their website(s), including the backlink profile. Google is much more than a search engine; it’s an integral part of our economy and the gateway for many B2C and B2B purchase transactions.
In 2014, here’s what you should and shouldn’t be doing, right now:
1. You Shouldn’t Hire An SEO Company To Do Volume Link Building. You also can’t afford to hire an SEO company and not know what they are doing and how they are doing it. Even to this very day, there are SEO companies using the kind of offshore link building tactics that are explicitly prohibited. Your company cannot afford to do ANY type of low quality or volume based link building anymore. he only links you want pointing to your site are ones that you earn and are proud of – namely links that are high quality, relevant to your business and from reputable, high authority websites.
2. You Shouldn’t Stop Doing SEO Either. In 2012, there were 2 billion Internet searches made every day. The volume and frequency of Google searches are increasing, just like the company’s stock price. In this writer’s opinion, the ROI for effective SEO services is higher than any other form of marketing and probably offers the highest ROI in the history of capitalism. The is why the SEO industry has become a victim of its own success, as greedy SEO agencies chased shortcuts to sell rankings based on risky techniques. The industry is in the early stages of a long and painful hangover. What does this mean for your business? You need to hire an SEO firm as you would hire for a key employment position. You would never hire the cheapest employees and you shouldn’t price shop SEO for the same reasons. The best SEO firms never cold-call or send random email messages – you find the best ones by searching on Google the same way you and your customers search for products and services.
3. You Should Consider Google AdWords. AdWords is a great supplement for organic SEO. No matter how talented your in-house SEO or Internet marketing partners may be, there is no way they can get you rankings for all of your targeted keywords. With pay-per-click advertising, your company can target low-volume, high converting long-tail keywords that would be difficult to obtain organically.
4. You Should Start Blogging. Now. We know you’ve heard this before, but high quality blogging will always help for SEO. It not only helps establish your company as an authority, but it’s also proven to increase conversion rates. Blogging is the best way to add high quality, relevant content to your website, and Google loves fresh, high quality blog content. Much like link building, however, populating a blog with filler posts as way to game the system is just like volume-based link building. In the long run it will kill your site. Do it, but invest in doing it the right way.
5. You Should Do Spring Cleaning On Your Backlink Profile. Right Now. Your website may be hours away from receiving in a devastating manual or algorithmic penalty from Google. Yet, you can easily take action before the next update negatively impacts your website. Webmaster Tools (WMT) is a free Google toolset that enables you to see how Google views the overall SEO health of your website. Most importantly, WMT enables you to view the vast majority of links pointing to your website. With this information, your company can start the outreach process of asking webmasters to remove low quality or unwanted backlinks. At the end of this process, if you have inbound links that you cannot get taken down via outreach, within WMT there is a link disavow tool essentially allowing you to ask Google “not count” disavowed links when assessing your site.
Phil Singleton is the owner of Kansas City Web Design®, a web development firm specializing in SEO-friendly WordPress websites and custom website applications, and Kansas City SEO®, a full-service Internet marketing services company that provides organic search engine optimization and other online marketing services. Contact Phil on his Google+ page.
Other resources on this topic:
Linking for SEO: Has Linking Lost Its Value?
Small Businesses and SEO: What You Need to Know
Why Social Media is a Critical Component of SEO