In the nascent days of search engine optimization (SEO), search results had little to do with what the human at the other end of the keyboard was actually looking for. Type in “cocktail dress” and good luck finding something even remotely close to what you were looking for (unless, that is, you were looking for the J.C. Penny website or a completely irrelevant article about the history of the cocktail dress). That’s because people knew how to work the system. If you know enough about Google’s algorithms, you can work it to be in your favor—or at least your website’s favor.
The good news is that content farms and blatant spamming have been caught onto by the Google gods. Informative and creative content can trump a post so keyword heavy that its message is virtually lost. That’s not to say all the old rules of thumb about SEO are completely out the door, though:
- Backlinks are good (in moderation). A backlink used to be a way to say, “hey – see this website? I give it a thumbs up.” Until people started overdoing it. Comments on message boards and blogs with links back to their own website in broken English are everywhere, but they aren’t worth their weight in gold. Google now places emphasis on more organic links. Don’t even think about using the same message verbatim from the same email address on 50 message boards. It just won’t work.
- Keywords are like salt and pepper. I could litter this post with “St. Louis advertising agency” every other word and it wouldn’t do much good for the search results. Keywords are good. Use too many keywords and it’s kinda like back linking. Almost.
- Social media just might matter. It’s hard to say just yet what kind of impact social media postings will have on SEO results, but the fact that Twitter was once integrated with Google results is a good sign. It says that search engines are just as interested in what people say and
retweet as in what algorithms say are important.
Depending on whom you ask, SEO can be endlessly fascinating or endlessly annoying. If you ask us, we lean towards the former. As the way search results are ranked continues to evolve, it’s not just a hobby to casually follow – it’s a full time job.