Search engine optimization as you might think of it, is dead. And it’s a good thing.
Traditional SEO gives website owners the false belief that there is some magic knowledge required to make your site rank number one on Google. There is no such magic knowledge. There are no tricks. There is no inside-path to Google.
There is only one thing that matters to Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask and all the other search engines out there: content. And that extends to the other “non-search-engine” search engines that I discussed a couple days ago.
The brilliant people who write and tweak search algorithms are doing something very well. They are making their search results more relevant every day. Not so long ago, search results could be gamed by webmasters by doing things such as writing white text on a white background to fool search engines into delivering inappropriate content or stuffing keywords into a page, creating an unreadable, useless page that ranks high on a search results page.
There are two types of SEO:
- On-page – active SEO actions that webmasters can take in the design and content-creation process
- Off-page – passive SEO actions that happen as a result of community interactions with web content
I’m going to redefine on-page SEO. Rather than the traditional black hat SEO (keyword stuffing, link farming, spamming..) or the traditional white hat SEO (keyword obsession, meta tags, backlink trading…), let’s think of SEO as a series of best practices. As a metaphor, good SEO is kind of like good spelling and good essay organization – it’s a lot easier to find information when the details are correctly spelled and follow good rules of accepted grammar. Making sure your paragraphs, addresses, blockquotes, headlines, phone numbers, images, video, terms, definitions, tables, sidebars… are all tagged with the proper HTML is (and will continue to be) important. Those tags are what tells Google the priority of all the content elements on the page.
Off-page SEO is a reaction to your quality content and your content strategy. When you write an interesting blog post or post a compelling video, visitors are likely to respond by linking to that content from their blogs and social media. The legitimate links to your content generated by legitimate visitors are tremendously valuable because they are signals to Google that your message is resonating with an audience. Google rewards your good work by elevating your results in the search rankings.
It’s that simple. Better stuff gets served up. Worse stuff gets ignored. Make great content and do a little work to make sure it’s tagged correctly (learn how to do that here) and you’ll make your way into the embrace of Google.
Here’s another article explaining, in more technical detail, why SEO is dying, if not dead already. By the way, the link to that piece will help ClickZ‘s web ranking. I don’t really care about that, however. I care that the blog had an excellent explanation of SEO that supports my argument and I want to share that with you. ClickZ will benefit because it offers great content. That’s a good thing.