You only need a basic knowledge of SEO to know that the industry has changed dramatically over the past 10 years or so. The somewhat simpler days of spamming, keyword stuffing and link farming are long gone. Instead, the digital marketing world is becoming more competitive, more difficult and more creative.
The history behind SEO
When the term ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ came to light in around 1995, the methods used for ranking a particular keyword phrase were simple; put that phrase on your webpage as many times as physically possible. META keywords, content, title tags; even the wallpaper of your website could be filled with your desired keyword phrase.
Enter Google in 1998 and the first change to the system – link building.
Although it wasn’t link building as we know it today, it was a feature that became infinitely important to rank highly in the Google SERPs.
Google’s Page Rank algorithm brought in the concept of offsite links/citations or ‘votes’. The more links pointed to your site, the more votes you received and therefore a better ranking was achieved. As was to be the case over the next 10 years, elements of the SEO community ran with this idea and built massive backlink profiles to websites without regard for where they came from or what they were about – extremely different from today’s link building methods.
The more recent history of the digital marketing era sees the introduction of Google’s most powerful algorithms; Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird. Now, everything about your site is measured including:
• How spammy your backlinks are
• How relevant to your site/company/product the links are
• The relevancy of your content
• Your domain authority and whether your industry specialists are linking to you
• Your social media activity and the creation of quality, shareable content
The list goes on and on. The important thing to take from this is the algorithms are becoming more comprehensive with each update and only the most creative will continue to succeed
How to be creative?
If you read our recent blog on content marketing, you will know this is the most effective way to be creative. In a time when quality, relevant links are needed, creating shareable pieces of content is the best way to make this happen. Whether these link shares are coming from social media or a high DA website, the result is sure to have an affect on your current rankings.
The content doesn’t have to be a piece of writing – anything that is worth sharing with your followers or is likely to be passed on is worth doing. I.e. the Deepblue SEO tips infographic…
Something heard over and over again in the recent SEO industry is:
“We don’t have the budget to create amazing pieces of content and compete with our major competitors”
Although aspects of this are understandable and hugely interactive pieces with months of design work may not be possible, it doesn’t mean you can’t be competitive. Instead, you must be CREATIVE with the resources you have.
A few suggestions for a lower budget:
1. Answer a question that no one else is – Finding a gap in the market is an excellent strategy to have as it minimalises competition. If you have a question that you can only find a vague answer too (or no answer at all), then go ahead and answer it yourself. Do some research, pull up some statistics and relate it to a real life situation. Chances are, if you’re asking this question, then someone else is too.
2. Use the free tools available to you – There is a range of free tools you can use to make the most of what you have. Free design tools are readily available, as well as tools to help outreach, link build, post it socially and ensure the page is fully optimised.
3. Use social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ etc. have become hugely influential in taking a piece of content viral. All businesses should be using the social media platforms anyway, but using it correctly can make a huge difference. Following trends, being helpful and friendly and bulking up your following increases the number of impressions you make, improves brand awareness and ultimately increases the chance of your content being shared. Best of all, it is free!
4. Use media as often as possible – Using images, videos, graphs etc. makes your content more shareable. Use them to help get a message across, make people laugh or provide extra information without reading heaps of content. Creating an enjoyable user experience leads to more shares and more links made.
As we have moved away from the spammy days and an SEOs job has become that much harder, being creative is hugely important and will most likely be the most important aspect of digital marketing going forward. As the Google algorithms become more comprehensive and human-like, generating relevant, high DA links through creative, shareable pieces of content are one of the most important aspects to focus on going forward.