SEO used to be a shortcut of sorts — use the right keywords and the right codes and watch your site climb to the top of the search engine results page. Tactics included spamming links and stuffing keywords in meta tags, and while these things did little to improve actual user experience, they did wonders for driving search traffic.
But then Google caught on, and what used to be common practice turned into an SEO kiss of death.
Now, bombarding the web with hundreds of irrelevant links and designing your site to please a robot rather than a person does more harm than good, but that’s not to say that the SEO industry as a whole has died out — instead, it has evolved.
Doing SEO now involves much more than keyword identification and link-spamming. You have to be well-versed in user experience, branding, design, inbound marketing, social media, and public relations. You have to be able to evaluate a website, implement on-page SEO best practices, and then execute an inbound marketing campaign that drives meaningful traffic.
SEO: On the Road to Recovery
Beyond that, you have to be able to rebuild the reputation (in the eyes of both Google and the user) of a site that has been penalized by the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates. Such recovery can take anywhere from 3 to 12+ months depending on the circumstances, but it is possible through expertly implemented, thoughtful SEO that revolves around the design and development of a solid foundation, the creation and sharing of unique and worthwhile content, and strategic outbound and inbound marketing efforts.
And as the dedicated members of the SEO industry work to restore the standings of various websites, they are at the same time reestablishing the reputation of the SEO industry itself. It is oft perceived to be a business of manipulation, spam, and questionable ethics (unfortunately, sometimes rightfully so), but we are driven by the simple desire to make sure that when a user is searching for your product, they can easily find your website. By emphasizing high-quality content and actively engaging with potential and current customers, we are able to ethically rebuild and grow the online reputations of brands that deserve the recognition.
SEO today is not a quick fix and it is not a shortcut; it is a consistent, concentrated effort that, over time, delivers meaningful and measurable results to those who are willing to see the commitment through.
Alex Becker is a founding Partner of Highly Relevant and currently serves as the SEO Manager of an Internet Media Company called Oversee.