Google’s own Noah’s Ark of Google algorithms—Hummingbird, Panda, and Penguin—are seemingly constantly changing. That wouldn’t be a huge deal, except that these algorithms play a role in over 90 percent of all online searches. Their job is to pinpoint any bad search results (i.e. sites filled with spam, keyword stuffing, or other black hat tricks) so that when you “Google it,” you get the highest quality results first. Obviously, it’s in any businesses’ best interest to play by Google’s rules.
But have Google’s algorithms changed so much that they're nothing like they used to be? According to a director at Pinnacle Marketing Communications, Matt Wilkinson, “Yes, SEO is dead (technically) in the way we used to be able to build links. Now we are focused more heavily on content marketing.” While he stresses that SEO professionals are still necessary, creativity is now key. Where and how is content shared?
A Mutually Beneficial Relationship
Like the sugar daddy or mama that scoops up a fine, young paramour, the relationship between SEO and social media is one where everybody wins. Wilkinson notes, “The basics of optimization may seem simple, but implementing it isn’t.” Of course, Google makes things even more complicated—just like any hot relationship—by refusing to say exactly how website engagement is measured. However, SEO experts are in agreement that content is paramount. Simply put, if content is created by someone reputable (such as a journalist or renowned blogger), it’s going to be ranked higher than something scratched up by a noob.
Econsultancy recently released a study showing that 88 percent of the 2,500 firms studied marry content marketing with SEO, while 74 percent link their social media marketing with SEO. However, the qualitative results are shocking, with notes from respondents like Dane Cobain: “Social media requires a human touch, something that a lot of SEO professionals aren’t equipped to deal with. SEO has always been tied to the performance of metrics, but you can’t carry out a social media campaign if you look at people as numbers instead of individuals.”
And therein lies the rub.
The Whole Package
Unsurprisingly, SEO “professionals” who use black hat tactics or bare bones approaches are quickly going out of business. But those who hone in on content marketing? They’re thriving. However, this is shifting the current relationship between SEO agencies and social media companies, PR pros and digital marketing experts. It’s becoming so that you can’t have one without the other.
“Boundaries are blurring,” says Branded3’s head of search, Tim Grice. “There are some people in PR that feel like SEO managers are stepping on their toes. To create brand value, you need good, creative content from all sides and you need to be technically sound in implementing it. It’s a collaborative gain.”
Google getting friendlier with the human touch is a great thing for consumers—especially since common search key phrases are getting more complex with more questions seasoned in. Of course, the answer is simple: An SEO firm that offers more comprehensive services with in-house PR, digital marketing, and social media services is the ultimate catch. And who wouldn’t want to put a ring on that?