Search Engine Optimization in 2015

If you want to grow organic traffic, the first term you might hear is search engine optimization. Some experts claim it’s dead, while others praise how effective it is. Since Google began drastically changing their algorithms, SEO has changed. In 2015, it’s still a lifeblood for online businesses and marketing, but it is different than it used to be. See my above image – I am ranking higher for my keyword targets but it isn’t easy.

SEO Before Google Panda
Before the Google Panda (the algorithm that truly redefined SEO), many considered SEO to be easy. The result was numerous search results full of spammy sites stuffed with keywords. Valuable, useful content wasn’t important. Keywords and links were king. Some of the old methods included:

  • Submitting duplicate content to article directories to build links
  • Joining link exchanges
  • Buying thousands of links cheaply
  • Filling content with keywords
  • Writing content unrelated to links or keywords
  • Focusing on one or two keywords only

Google used to rank sites based on relevant keywords and backlinks. While links on authority pages were worth more,buying or exchanging links helped boost backlinks and increased ranking. For those using these blackhat ranking tactics, everything changed in 2011.

Google Changes Search Forever

Google released Panda in 2011 to improve search results after users continued to complain about the spammy and useless results they kept seeing. Numerous sites were pushed to the bottom of the results or de-indexed completely. Panda included a series of updates to ensure the right sites weren’t punished and expand how Google determined if a site offered quality content or not.

This wasn’t the first update, but the one that implemented changes such as requiring quality content with natural keyword use, original content, social status such as +1s, time spent on a site, page views and number of ads. The more spam like tactics used, the worse the site suddenly ranked. The overall rule became create content and sites for users, not for search engines.

SEO Today And Tomorrow

SEO is not dead. Those who optimized content the right way all along saw a boost in traffic as Google implemented changes. To help users, Google provided four simple guidelines for creating quality sites:

  • Design the site and content for users
  • Don’t use deceptive content or links
  • Make your site and content unique
  • Don’t use blackhat SEO tactics to trick search engines

Today’s SEO isn’t a quick and easy strategy to success. It takes time and effort. This personal site took me around 5 months of optimizing and building relevant streams of traffic to start ranking for my targeted consultant related queries. I understood the time involved so I was okay with investing upfront and letting the wheel start working for me eventually. With consistent effort, search engine optimization is effective and continues to help drive organic traffic to your site. The main key is to provide value to your visitors on a regular basis and engage in real, value-added activities.

Content is still a major part of SEO. However, quality trumps quantity. Longer, high quality posts will help boost your rank better than a daily, short, fluff filled posts. Relevant guest posts with a single backlink are useful as well.

Keywords are still important too, but not as much as they used to be. Instead of focusing on a single keyword or a short phrase, use long tail keywords naturally as they might be said in conversation.

Try to use real words in your URL structure instead of random numbers and letters. Keywords and titles in URLs help search engines quickly rank pages and posts.

Developing A Strategy With An SEO Consultant

Working with an SEO consultant may be helpful for your site. They’re more effective than a team because they work directly with you, one on one. Teams take on numerous clients and you might not get the personal attention your site needs. Hiring a consultant means you don’t have to know everything. They can help you create a strategy to optimize your site and content now and in the future.

SEO is still your best friend when you use it right. Whether you handle it yourself or hire a professional, SEO can boost your rankings.

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