Almost every year, the same message can be heard resonating from marketing circles: SEO is officially “dead” or at least changed so fundamentally that it’s completely unrecognizable from what it once was.
The truth is, search engine optimisation is alive and well and will be as long as search engines are able to drive significant volumes of traffic to a website. Rather than dying off or changing radically, it’s more accurate to say that SEO has undergone a slow and steady evolution, driven and shaped by the changing digital landscape.
So what has actually changed?
Despite what you may have heard, very little has changed here. In late 2013, Google’s controversial ‘Hummingbird’ update hid or encrypted the keyword data previously available to site owners in Google Analytics, forcing marketers to adapt their keyword research strategies by finding new data sources to draw this important information from. However, the essence of effective keyword research remains the same - understanding your audience, their specific wants and needs and how they search for your property’s services online.
Internal Link Structure
There has been a lot of talk about PageRank being obsolete. However, there’s no denying that internal link structure is still hugely important if you want to rank a page for any given important keyword you’re targeting. True, there have been some minor technical changes in recent years, and it is safe to say PR is not the prime ranking factor it once was; however, it is still a ranking factor, and an important one at that. If two websites feature very similar, high quality content, all well optimised for SEO, and the same number of quality inbound/outbound links, but different Page Rank’s, the site with the higher PR will be displayed higher in the SERPs.
So while Google updates may have affected some tactics, not much has changed when it comes to the impact that internal link structure has on search engine optimisation, and understanding Page Rank can still help give you an edge over your competitors.
Link Building and Content Marketing
When Google introduced its Penguin update in April 2012, the news was met with some panic. SEO had changed forever! Penguin had killed link building once and for all!
Two years on, this is clearly not the case. All Penguin did do was level the playing field so that marketers buying heaps of irrelevant, low quality links could no longer cheat their way into a higher search ranking. Now, everyone had to play by Google’s rules and adhere to best practices or lose out on the prime search ranking spots. And this is where content marketing comes in.
Although it may seem like it, content marketing isn’t a new thing. It’s just that it’s rather time consuming, costly, more difficult to master than other marketing strategies and needs to be integrated with other digital channels such as social media for maximum results. All these factors have meant that content marketing was not a first choice strategy for many marketers in previous years. However, with Google’s new emphasis on ‘quality’ and the undeniable force of social media, creating engaging, useful content that resonates with your specific audience has become an unavoidable task for anyone who wants to stay afloat online.
Now, more than ever, combining a well planned content marketing or blogging campaign with an effective social media strategy can help build high quality links, which makes it a critical SEO tool for every business.
SEO in 2014
Taking the above into consideration, it becomes clear that while search engine updates have forced marketers to change their tactics a little, the core activities and goals of SEO in 2014 are not as new and different as you might think.
All search engines, and particularly Google, want to present the most relevant information for their users at the top of the search results pages. After all, providing easy access to the best quality, most useful information is exactly what keeps searchers coming back, which makes search engines their revenue. So, if you want to rank highly, you’ve got to get back to basics and create great quality content that is optimised with relevant keywords and highly targeted at your guests’ needs – do so successfully and the search engines will reward you.
SEO remains a crucial component of any hotel’s online marketing strategy. It’s still one of the most effective ways to get ahead online when done correctly, and will be for the foreseeable future.
Do you have anything to add? Let us know in the comments below!