The shift in the importance of links and social media
The latest trend in SEO is hard tocatch in one word as it is a combination of a number of factorsincreasing in weighting and other elements being reduced or phasedout. I assume that other search engines will follow the market leaderand for the moment call whatever Google do “the SEO world”.
Google have quite publicly announcedwhat their main drivers are:
Originality and/or authenticity.
Anti-gaming not in the sense of tryingto stop people playing Call of Duty, but using all sorts oftechniques to bump their site at the cost of those that actually aremore helpful to visitors. It is no great secret that there is a vastmarket of link-trading and you don't have to be a rocket scientist towork out how easy it is to artificially increase the “importance”of your site by buying or exchanging links. After Panda, it became awaste of time to “build” links using link wheels, blog farms orbuy links from website collections that had little other purpose thanselling links to people. Judging by comparison results, the influenceof ”high quality” links is now waning too.
The importance of originality andauthenticity is increasing in a number of ways.
One example is the amount of effortspent on combating plagiarism. Google are processing moreunauthorised copy complaints than ever and producers of content areencourages to make themselves known to Google via various methodslike G+ profile and author tags. Websites that are caught usingstolen material can expect to be penalised in their serp rankings.
“User Experience” may be a somewhatesoteric term, but it is easy enough to get quite close to thepractical meaning in terms of SEO. For long term SEO, the decisionabout whether or not to make an effort in doing anything canessentially be decided by asking 2 questions: If I were looking foritem/information “X”, would doing this to my website make lifeeasier for me?
Adding another flash Flash presentationfrom a distance of 5 metres in addition to the ones from 1, 2, and 3metres probably wouldn't, but adding a short, to the point mpeg abouthow to use your product from a 5 metre distance if so far 3 was thelimit, would.
Listing page after page with all yourproducts would be of very little use to anyone, apart from thosetrying to find the cheapest supplier in the world for a specificitem. This list may be authentic, original and unique content, itwill find very little appreciation in the eyes of Google. What wouldbe useful for people, is some clear guidance on how to use problem“y” can be solved in most cases with your $8 product, where mostpeople would use the £12 version because it is better known.
Social media have a place in this, andmost likely one that will increase in importance. Because socialmedia activity is by definition two-way, it will be very easy forsearch engine algorithms to find out which companies/people haveinternet activity that is helpful for users. More unique posts fromthe “owner” and more unique posts from users; more uniquevisitors as well as more frequently returning readers and posterswill all be strong indications that this is a valuable source ofinformation. Links to and from the social media to the website willbring website visitors to the social media site and vice versa.