Following Google’s recentRankbrainannouncement concerning its use of artificial intelligence to better understand search queries in order to improve the relevancy of results, I can’t help but think there maybe another round of “Search Engine Optimisation is dead” content produced and people running to the hills.
My view is that there is nothing to fear and such developments will be continual and hopefully the end goal is even better search results for the user.
However, to rank pages in SERPS according to Google relies on hundred of ranking factors. Those SEO’s working on sites regularly still appreciate that fact, although on page factors such as well organised, clear sign posting and engaging, optimised content is key, an important ranking factor to achieve visibility on page 1 is still Google’s link algorithm – see video below from their own spokesperson Matt Cutts;
How do we know this? The mere fact that Google had to bring out its Penguin algorithm which is still evolving and it’s constant battle to shut down private blog networks, tells you all you need to know, not to mention the fact a lot of SEO’s still resort to this tactic. The simple truth is that unless backlinks are obtained either ethically or not, it is difficult to rank pages for high competition keywords.
What is your risk tolerance level?
Now we know backlinks from external sites are necessary, but there are debates currently raging with regard to whether the term white, black or grey hats is meaningful when it comes to SEO practice given we all know what is required eg building links. Even so called “Whitehat link earning” if executed incorrectly can cause issues with Google Penguin algorithm if for example too many links are built accidentally using the same keyword anchor text.
I share the view that the White, grey, black hat descriptions are all a bit redundant these days and the reality is that all SEOs still have to build links to sites, the only difference being the level of risk eg are ethical or unethical practices used? What SEOs in my view need to get much better at is explaining the real status quo and also risks attached depending on the methods deployed. This I believe applies to all those who describe themselves as totally Whitehat for the reasons I have stated. There is no shame or anything to hide here, instead the need to be totally transparent. It is fair to say that there are some excellent content marketing/social media techniques that can be used in order to generate links naturally, however, it is a requirement that the content has to be absolutely fantastic in order to capture readers interest thus enabling social sharing and link earning.
In my experience it is true that some clients are risk takers which may come as a surprise as the clammer to get listed on page 1 at any cost is just too much for some whilst other clients are risk-averse and are in it for the long term.
To conclude, marketing consultants or agencies trying to rank clients in my view needs to explain the Search Engine landscape and what is required to complete the job.
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