It’s not that long ago when clients would say they wanted a ‘keyword density’ of three, four or five per cent in their website copywriting. That gradually changed into a preference for ‘making the copy flow – and don’t worry about the keywords’. That has changed yet again to placing the emphasis on ‘quality content’, and the improved link building that results from it.
Keywords are still important – even if not at densities of five per cent! Attractive, flowing copy will always be important to the user experience, irrespective of keywords. Similarly, making sure that the user experience is maximised by providing quality content is nothing new – and link building itself has always been a pillar which supported SEO efforts.
What HAS changed is the emphasis on certain aspects of website copywriting. Look a little deeper and you will notice that Google’s preference for ‘quality content’ has extended to the more visual aspects of the web such as videos, charts and so on. In addition, by rewarding original content – including research results or the various strands of ‘thought leadership’ – we are seeing a move towards a new kind of search reality. For long enough, we’ve seen web content that simply re-cycles the status quo. As long as it read well and included the necessary keywords, a web page would rank. To its credit, Google is trying to change that.
Linking Thinking Issues…
The issue of ‘links’ and link building is more contentious. Current thinking has it that it’s only ‘high authority’, relevant links that will cut the mustard. Links in themselves lend ‘authority’ to a site, and yet these can be achieved using dubious aspects of SEO that have nothing to do with ‘quality content’. Examples are multiple submissions of poor quality articles to online article directories, or churning out spurious news releases for almost-anonymous online consumption.
It’s obvious that a link from a major website will lend credibility. Unfortunately, there seem to be so many subjective elements in all this. What constitutes a ‘major’ site? How far down the line do you have to go before a link from a mid-ranking site becomes something akin to a junk bond? Likewise, just how ‘relevant’ does a linking site have to be to the sector of the site being linked to?
Google’s latest search criteria are far from perfect, but they have to be applauded for trying to improve search results. The downside of all this is that, in its determination to achieve higher rankings for its clients at almost any cost, the SEO industry will find ways around the ‘sanctity’ of Google’s aims. Because there is so much at stake financially when it comes to web page rankings, there will always be a battle between SEO experts and the brain-boxes at Google.
The Future of Search…
The question of where search is heading in the future is surely one which preoccupies SEO specialists everywhere. There’s little doubt that search is an evolving and moveable feast. As SEO people analyze what is currently ranking well, so they will gain an ever-growing insight into the latest twists in Google’s algorithms.
As always, Google will strive to be ahead of the game and continue with its long series of ‘updates’ such as the 2010 Mayday Update or the Panda Update that has seen several incarnations over the past year. The convergence of televisual technologies will undoubtedly have an influence on what is possible when it comes to search. Google’s purchase of YouTube was surely a masterful piece of forward thinking. Online video is now a major medium in its own right, where its massive commercial and promotional potential is already being realised.
Mobile technology is also on the brink of a new era where the potential to revolutionise hardware, software and the Internet possibilities that go with it, is positively breathtaking.
How SEO will deal with all this remains to be seen. Keywords will still be around as they are, for example, in the optimisation of videos and their transcripts. It’s likely that a new form of video analysis will be developed that focuses on exposure to visual images rather than words. It may also be that the ranks of web pages that now appear when we do a Google search will seem incredibly quaint and old-fashioned compared to how websites and their videos will be ranked in the future.
Of course, it may just be that websites themselves – not to mention website copywriting! – will become ancient history. We will likely be looking at something akin to TV programmes. If you see how far and how fast technology has travelled in the past ten years, and then try to project where change will take us in the next few decades, the prospects are truly mind-boggling!