In order to be able to predict the future, you need to understand the past.
This has never been truer than with online marketing. Google has been making adjustments to their ranking algorithm that has transformed people’s ability to game their system.
This is causing massive problems for SEO agencies that have made their bones by pumping out low quality content specifically meant to trick the search engines.
In order to completely understand the basis for my predictions, go back to 1998. Yahoo, HotBot, and AltaVista were the most popular search engines of the day. Their ability to provide accurate search results was spotty at best. Those search engines used onsite content as the main way to determine which websites deserved top placement.
The few people that understood how search engines worked had a very easy time manipulating the SERPs. The most common and effective tactic was to stuff as many of the keywords you wanted to target throughout the content of a page.
This was a very crude form of online marketing. However, it produced very consistent results. The website with the highest ratio of keywords would get top placement. Having keyword usage as the root metric of the ranking algorithm made this system extremely easy to trick. That meant a very poor results page for the user.
Right around 1998 Google was founded. They had the idea that you could use other metrics besides onsite content to determine the relevancy of a website. . Using links as part of a ranking algorithm was what first set Google apart from the other search engines. There is a very popular analogy many SEO experts have used to explain the importance of this change.
When you think about a person, do you trust more about what he says about himself or more about what others say about him? I think everyone would agree that what other people say about him would probably be a more accurate representation of the individual.
Backlinks have been the root of Google’s ranking algorithm for the last 15 years. However, things are quickly changing away from this system. This brings us to our first prediction.
Links were an SEO company’s best friend. It is extremely easy to put set processes in place to create content and obtain links. More importantly, this has been extremely effective for many years. Many SEO companies have built extremely lucrative businesses around this model.
The problem is that now Google has changed how they value and evaluate links. SEO companies that refuse to change will be left in the dust. We predict that SEO companies that stick with the traditional forms of junk link-building will get organic penalties placed on their clients’ websites.
This can only go on for so long before businesses and more importantly strategic partners start seeing that the SEO companies product no longer works. This will be the demise of many companies with a traditional SEO product.
An old SEO saying is that “content is king.” While people have said this for years, high quality content has never really been the focus of most SEO practitioners. The truth of the matter is that producing content that is just good enough to get a link has been where 95% of SEO companies have invested their resources.
The shift from creating links to content marketing has been quietly taking place for the last 18 months. One of the best examples we’d like to present is what happened to SEOMoz. Anyone who knows anything about SEO is familiar with SEOMoz.
These guys were the absolute leaders of the online marketing world. About a year ago they changed their brand from SEOMoz to just Moz. If you visit their website, they don’t mention SEO one time.
They were one of the front-runners in changing from a traditional SEO mindset to being content- focused. My point is that leaders in the industry saw the light over a year ago. If the people that had an absolute lock on the industry are making a change, it is a good sign that Google is making a shift.
Google is where they are today because they generated the most accurate results pages. The use of backlinks has become too easy for the manipulation of Google’s algorithm. We predict that Google will start looking at other metrics like social engagement and website performance.
The ability to effectively create and distribute content will be the best way to improve these areas of your website. With Google placing higher importance on content, we predict companies will start to be much more focused on an inbound marketing strategy than just creating junk links.
– Check back next week for the other 3!