Google's seemingly always changing indexing algorithm continues to hit site rankings as the search giant continues to drive a new generation of SEO relying upon original and relevant content generation and sharing above all else. Now a panel of SEO experts in the UK has warned that companies need to avoid putting all their SEO eggs into the one Google basket and instead embrace SEO strategic evolution in order to maintain and grow traffic.
At a round-table discussion, hosted by cloud provider UKFast, Sam Allcock, CEO of Custard Media, stated that the key to successful audience growth was traffic stream diversification rather than a reliance upon Google-led SEO strategies. "Businesses must investigate every alternative method of traffic, including Facebook and Twitter. It just so happens now the easiest way to attract traffic is through Google but will this be the case in five years?” Allcock said.
Naturally, much of the discussion revolved around the rise of social media and how this has ensured that link-building is no longer enough. "With the advent of social media it’s no longer about focusing on the link but on the traffic stream the content can give you" Christian Hill, director of strategy at digital agency Project Simply insisted, adding "It’s now about building the value of the business”.
UKFast MD Jonathan Bowers stated that his company has spent a lot of time assessing the role that hosting and page load speed plays in Google’s search ranking, but admitted that "as we grow we know that traffic is no longer solely Google-led. Original content of value and social media drive a significant portion of our traffic and ensure that should any dramatic changes happen to the Google algorithm, if we were to fall foul of these changes, we’d still have a traffic stream.”
Perhaps the real secret of audience reach that needs to be understood, then, is the changing definition of what traffic really is. Ian Patterson, a digital consultant, thinks that the most recent Google Penguin update has shifted the focus for companies and that they should start viewing traffic as "people with needs". He has a point, and in order to grow in terms of social media reach sites need to deliver the very best user service and experience that they can. This experience factor, however, is not necessarily reflected in Google positioning and the raft of algorithm updates does nothing to actually change this. As Allcock concluded "Searches are important to people and if Google is not showing the best sites in the top positions it will be affected".
Maybe, then, the time to give up on SEO is now and instead concentrate on socially-led search strategies? One thing that does remain a constant, whichever way you look at it, is that content remains king and a traffic generation strategy must continue to embrace that concept. After all, if you have good content then the social networks will surely act as your marketing conduit.
SEO isn't dead, just yet, but the whole site marketing landscape is changing fast and unless you start adapting now the harsh truth is that your future will be very bleak indeed.