Mar192009SEO in a (Future) Era of Saturation
Many practitioners of SEO as well as more and more marketers are aware of the importance of linked content in increasing web site’s search ranking and thus a company’s visibility or sales. Fewer people are aware of the subtleties of link building and content creation that make SEO effective, such as matching meta titles with site content or the importance of carefully choose anchor text. There will alway be experts and amateurs in any field, however as more and more marketers become aware of SEO, that greater awareness of SEO is changing the dynamics of SEO itself by reducing its effectiveness (as measured by results like ranking or traffic).
More and more sites are adopting mini site strategies, blogging, and more and more webmasters or marketers are twittering and creating Facebook fan pages. When the social media and search marketing space was virgin territory, even a quickly devised effort could have major impact. Today, however, more effort must be made, which translates into more content, more links, more PR, more, more, more!
I’m not suggesting that SEO is saturated now, but I’m postulating that it will be within 12 months. This doesn’t mean that it will be return the same or less investment per dollar than other advertising, either, but it will definitely return less than it has. The results one obtains through a certan amount of effort today will be less in a year and even less in 3 years. Preparing for that day should be on everyone’s mind. A few key principals are worth mentioning:
- Efficiency - One component of successful SEO, link building, involves identifying relevant sites with high pagerank. Years ago, this was done manually by scanning each page. Today’s technology includes tools like SEO for Firefox that can automate that process to some extent. Google’s Webmaster Tools are a quick and easy way to analyze inbound links to every page on even the largest sites. Marketers should continue to look for ways to make their link building more efficient by cutting down time needed to identify potential link partners.
- Content is still king, but for different reasons in different eras – in the pre-Google era, content mattered for search positioning based on the keywords used. Google increased the importance of the quality of content – webmasters are more likely to link to your content if they like it. Additionally, some SEO consultants report positive effects on search engine’s spidering activity. In the increasingly frenetic world of online marketing accelerated by social networking, content that is merely good does not win – it must also be relevant, timely and entertaining. Welcome to the age of ”ADD”vertising!
- Golden Rule – the classic “golden rule” - “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” - applies in the search marketing space as well. Highly annoying behavior like massive e-mail blasts to webmasters or massive spamming of the Internet with duplicative content are not only annoying but counter productive. Individual targeting of particular web sites or bloggers by humans seeking out relevant content are generally considered acceptable.
- Research. Search engines are evolving systems whose formulas are being updated and refined from time to time. Despite the Google founders publicly available thesis that formed the basis of their search engine, the search engine continues to evolve over time with new rules being instituted to ensure the integrity of results. Understanding these rules as they are released is a key part of ensuring successful placement — even better is understanding the fundamental reason that search engines exist : helping searchers find relevant content. To the extent that an SEO campaign has this at the root of its strategy, it will produce campaigns that result in quality content which in turn will cushion it from changes in search engine algorithms over time since all such changes ultimately are meant to improve the location of relevant content.
In short, SEO practicioners must become more than experts in their field, but must continuously ask the underlying question – why do search engines exist in the first place and how can produce content that helps, not hinders, their activity, while also benefitting my client. This approach will protect any SEO practicioner in the coming age of saturation.