What to know about SEO

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about making sure your audience can find you in search engines, primarily Google. Key to this process is pinpointing what Google looks for when formulating search results and developing a web presence that considers those requirements.

'New' SEO

In recent years, Google has been on a mission to provide its users with more relevant search results. It’s routinely tweaking its algorithm so that spammy tactics are no longer rewarded with higher search rankings. Increasingly, Google favors websites that create a social buzz and those that are relevant to the individual user.

As a result of these changes, the SEO industry has been challenged to adopt an entirely new way of working. 'New’ SEO is essentially content marketing - and that content must be genuinely useful and engaging (something not true of ‘old’ SEO).

So, how does this impact you?

The bad news:

This new approach requires far more time and effort. SEO no longer boils down to fooling Google’s algorithm with easy (spammy) link-building tactics. These tactics could lead to your website being penalized and even banned from search results.

The good news:

‘New’ SEO is far more intuitive for businesses who once saw it as too techy and beyond their grasp. These days, SEO is not a difficult concept to understand and the challenge to change tactics may actually inspire organizations to develop an integrated digital strategy that considers all marketing channels.


Key terms:

Natural search - Also known as ‘organic search’, this simply refers to all unpaid search results that appear in search engines. These are the results determined by a search engine’s algorithm, rather than by any sort of bidding process.

Paid search - The pay-per-click (PPC) advertising that appears as sponsored search results, usually at the top or along the side of a search engine results page.

Google Panda - Google’s algorithm change, first rolled out in February 2011, which aims to devalue what it considers to be low authority websites.

Google Penguin - Google’s algorithm change, first rolled out in April 2012, which aims to devalue websites thought to be using ‘black-hat’ SEO tactics (link scheming, duplicating content, keywords stuffing, etc.)

Personalized search - Search results that are tailored to the individual searcher, if he/she is logged into an associated account (i.e. if they are logged into their Google account via Gmail or Google+).

Social signals - Facebook 'likes', 'tweets', 'pins' and a range of other social activity that search engines value. Social signals are essential to 'new' SEO.

Black hat SEO - Search engine optimization tactics that go against Google's guidelines - e.g. link schemes, cloaking, duplicating content, and anything else designed to trick Google's algorithm.

White hat SEO -  Search engine optimization tactics permitted by Google, which put primary focus on user journey/experience. With white hat SEO, improved rankings are a subsequent benefit of quality content marketing and user-friendly site design.