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November 25, 2008

The Evolution (Not Death) Of SEO

There is a lot of talk about the “death of SEO” and “the death of ranking reports” lately. It all stems from some sessions at PubCon in Las Vegas.

Remember we all want to get our message out there and have our voices heard and one way to do that is to make a dramatic statement. So that is what you are seeing. The truth is SEO is not dead – it is just evolving. And the other truth is…. the more things change, the more they stay the same.

What I mean is; of course the SEO universe is evolving – search is so much more sophisticated than it ever was before. We have universal search, geo-targeting and we have personalization.

However in spite of all that – the foundation has not really changed. To get ranked you should have always been focused on creating high quality content, getting good links into your site and creating a useful, informative site that is focused on the user experience and ultimately on getting the sale. None of that has changed – that is all just as important.

People talk about the death of ranking reports – but for those that know what internet marketing is all about – you should know that ranking reports were never that important. Sure we provide them to clients, to give them an indication of where they stand in the engines – but the real results come from how much increased traffic and sales they get, not from how many rankings they can see on their report.

It’s true with personalization, universal search, intent based search and geo-targeting the landscape is changing and different results will be displayed for different people. That is all good news!

Sure it means you won’t get reliable ranking reports and you may even get less total traffic but the traffic you do get will be more targeted since your webpage coming up in the SERPs was matched to a query that was specific and relevant based on their location and search history.

I’m hearing a lot of talk that makes me think people have misinterpreted what was said at PubCon.

It is true that we need to focus on more than just ranking reports (but as I said, I believe that was already the case). However, you still need a high quality site that shows the engines it is relevant to whatever the query is, in whatever context the person is searching.

In other words if you go with the example Bruce Clay gave at PubCon: If someone performs a search for “java” they may be looking for programming, or may be looking for the beverage, and some are looking for travel information. Theoretically, personalized search will know that and provide results accordingly.

The fact is in all 3 of those scenarios some sites have to come up on top – so you just have to make sure your site is optimized to let the engines and the site visitors know which of those queries you are relevant to (programming, coffee or travel) and then your site can come up on top!

So What Now?

The truth is optimizing your site is more important than ever since traffic is going to be so much more specific and targeted and as a result conversions will be higher.

You should focus on understanding your site visitors and what they want. Focus on what they do when they come to your site. Focus on building content that delivers quality information.

If you don’t know what personalization, universal search, geo-targetting and intent based search is, stay tuned for my next article.

The final thought I will leave you with: Working with a company that is current on SEO trends and understands what all these changes mean is going to be vital to your success.

Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing for Since 1998 Jennifer’s expertise in marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped clients increase revenue. Jennifer has written a downloadable book on SEO and has been published in many SEO and marketing publications. Jennifer is the editor of the popular Spotlight on Success: SEO and Marketing newsletter. Follow Jennifer and stay current on SEO, marketing, social media and more.