Times are certainly changing when it comes to
search engine optimization. The days of simple
SEO are most definitely gone. It used to be that you just put the right elements in the right places on a web page and Google gave your site due attention and fairly good rankings for a variety of terms. As Google has continued on their quest to serve up the most relevant information the ability for webmasters to pinpoint the magic formula for high rankings is a
moving target at best.
Add to that the fact that Google is being investigated for violation of Anti-Trust Laws. The hearing brought out some very important points like Google places their listings above the legitimate organic listings and people are unaware that the first few listings are not organic. This also results in the first organic listings being pushed down the page, even below the fold and onto the second page of search. It's a pretty common fact that only about 20% of people will search past the first page so this has affected many companies by greatly reducing traffic from the search engine giant.
At the Anti-Trust hearing, Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt could not give a solid answer as to why they were presenting search results in this way, his statement, ""We run the company for the benefit of consumers and frankly not for the other websites." But aren't the businesses that own websites also their customer? His lack of clear answers didn't satisfy members of the Senat committee.
So let's talk about Panda. Is this Google's attempt to purify the search results or is it the way Google decides for you what you want to see in the results? Around the office we've noticed several things, most important of which is the fact that Google's results seem to be less intuitive than they would like to believe. We've even gone to the point of changing search engines to get a better search engine result page. Clients have noticed that their listings are quicker to appear in higher positions on Bing than on Google.
None the less, Google is trying to produce results based on actual web content, not having the SEO elements in all the right places. So as always, strong original content is king but it's more than just that. You've got to totally rethink your online strategy because rewriting your title tags and descriptions isn't going to make the difference you need to stay ahead of the competition.
If you haven't already done so, you must get involved with social media. The results of social media on our client sites puts them in the top 5 sources of web traffic. Talk to your customers and have them give reviews on your website. Keep in contact with customers through social media, email and reaching out to them personally.
Also, spread your SEO efforts. Bing has a pretty good search engine and their results are certainly different than Google. Optimizing for Bing may give you a better reach when you have both search engines working for you.
What used to work in the past is not guaranteed to work in the present or the forceable future. It's time to adapt or fade away.