The term SEO, which was allegedly first used in 1997, has long been used to describe a webmaster’s ability to edit a website’s design and code to favorably influence its rank on search engines. 

SEO strategies have included back-linking, title tags, page architecture, site maps and introduced us to a style of writing content that emphasizes keywords.

These strategies have largely belonged to webmasters and programmers.

Despite significant changes in search algorithms and user-friendly web design tools (ie; Wordpress, Drupal, Squarespace), many core elements of what has traditionally been known as SEO have become automated or less technical.

Even Google has restructured its view on back-linking and often favors quality content over its old 'inbound links = relevancy' model.

Despite this, the term “SEO” still remains and often intimidates non-technical people who view SEO as some foreign language that only their webmaster speaks.

The fact is, the SEO of 1997 ended a short time ago, but the term lives on.

What has evolved from old school SEO is a need for quality web content that people view, enjoy and share.

Google’s user-friendly guide to SEO states this very clearly when it explains, “creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors.”

Let’s change the way we speak of SEO

Today, SEO has evolved into two unique strategies: website architecture and content marketing.

Good website architecture is a requirement, not a strategy for optimization. It’s fundamental. Good website strategy includes search engine indexing, responsive display and mobile efficiency.

Content marketing is where the optimization occurs.

Create great content and search engines will reward you with premium placement and users thirsty for compelling content.

Gone is the strategy of robotic text stuffed with high scoring keywords. This was a mechanical strategy at best and never satisfied readers.

Given this, don’t ask your webmaster how to improve your SEO. Instead, align your webmaster with your digital marketing team and try this instead:

1. Use a content management system

Use a content management system (CMS) to publish your quality blogs, articles and images.

A simple CMS, like Wordpress, removes the technical obstacles for creatives that want to publish straight to the website. The CMS has a lot of search engine friendly tools that are automated for great indexing on search engines.

2. Publish great content, often

Get into a weekly rhythm of creating new content on your website. Keep the content fresh by adding new images, revising text and keeping things up to date.

If pages on your site read the same as they did when the site was launched three years ago, search engines may no longer be crawling your site. Invite them back with fresh content.

3. Google’s spiders love Google’s partner sites

With more search users than anyone else, clearly you want your site optimized on Google and its family of websites.

For this reason, create a YouTube account and embed your videos on your website. Create a Google Places page for local listings and map attribution.

Submit your site to Google’s Webmaster Tools (it’s easy, no need for your webmaster despite the name). Get a Google+ page for your business. Submit your mobile sitemap to Google’s mobile testing tools.

4. Social media distribution

Have a social presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. Clearly these are popular tools but they offer strong links to your content and easy content distribution through their sharing features.

As your content gets shared by your fans and followers, more people will visit your website and your community of visitors will grow. 

For more on this point, read Econsultancy’s guide on content distribution and influencer networks: How to Go Viral.

Lori Goldberg

Published 6 November, 2015 by Lori Goldberg

Lori Goldberg is CEO at Silverlight Digital and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Jamil Kassam, Traffic Acquisition Manager at adidas

Google’s Webmaster Tools (it’s easy, no need for your webmaster despite the name). - probably why they recently renamed it to Google Search Console!

about 2 years ago

Lori Goldberg

Lori Goldberg, CEO at Silverlight Digital

Ha! - Jamil I bet you're right.

about 2 years ago

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Gary Lillistone, Client Services at New World PR

Lori, I believe a crucial element about optimisation that gets forgotten is the belief that the digital content is all correct. Broken links, misspellings, slow response times, out-of-date info can affect visitor experience. Too many companies think their digital sites are all OK, but Sitemorse automation, for example, monitors and reports on these and enables better optimisation.

about 2 years ago

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Jon Nicholas, Digital Producer at IBM Interactive Experience/GBS/Mobile

Hi Lori, great article - but I'm not 100% sure I agree with your thoughts about YouTube. I totally agree that it's an important channel in it's own right - but also believe that by only embedding YouTube videos, and not hosting videos on your own domain, you are in danger of not getting the full SEO value from this content on your own site. Better I think to have an optimised YouTube channel, and use this to drive [appropriate] traffic to your site; and to back this up with an independent but coordinated video marketing campaign under your own domain. Thoughts?

about 2 years ago

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Tony Edey, . at RCL Cruises Ltd

Do you have any view on how much content = minimum needed to be considered quality content? I ask because of an interesting challenge we've been having with a page redesign. The new design is highly visual as that's the nature of the content, but it also needs to rank well, which means it needs text. Lots of it apparently. So much that it hurts the visual page design, leads to unnecessary copy being written to meet an artificially set word count to satisfy the bots, and gives the end user more to read than necessary. This constant tug of war between visual appeal and text requirements for search engines is an age old pain point. I was just wondering what the latest 'rule of thumb' was in this ever changing landscape, as currently we're using '400 words per page' as the rule. And of course those have to be written verbose in paragraphs.

about 2 years ago

Lori Goldberg

Lori Goldberg, CEO at Silverlight Digital

Jon - I get your point about YouTube. I'm not saying embedding your own video is a bad idea - certainly not. It's actually great content marketing (or SEO). My point about YouTube is that Google tends to rank its own sites very well in search results. Naturally, since YouTube is a Google company, I find that it is highly favored in Google's search results. Having a corporate branded YouTube channel (as you suggested) - even better!

about 2 years ago

Lori Goldberg

Lori Goldberg, CEO at Silverlight Digital

Thanks Tony. Instead of thinking in terms of minimum content and '400 words per page' consider your site's visitors and write an appropriate description to serve their need for information. You want your visitors to have a good experience on your site and not become burdened with reading your keyword strategy. However, optimizing photos is a challenge. Consider going outside your website and creating content that will drive interested visitors to your site. This can be done with social media, YouTube, Vimeo, PR, blogging, etc. Think of your site as being at the bottom of a funnel where other content marketing efforts are working to bring visitors into the funnel. Of course tagging and naming your photos is a good practice, too.

about 2 years ago

Simone Kurtzke

Simone Kurtzke, Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Robert Gordon University

Lori, Google+ page for businesses are dead, it's now a listing under Google My Business (GMB) - https://www.google.co.uk/business/ - and a key tactic in local SEO. It's a recent change but important - I've had some good success with one of my clients and literally put them on the map for a key search term.

about 2 years ago

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Simon Anderson, copywriter | creative collaborator at simonand.com

I'd heard somewhere that Google is about to or already has stopped using Google+ content in your search rankings. Is that true? If it is then is it worth having to manage a good up to date Google+ feed?

about 2 years ago

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Ronnie Jones, SEO Specialist at Pixus

I agree that content is very important in the world of SEO however, to disregard all the other areas of SEO especially "Even Google has restructured its view on back-linking and often favors quality content over its old 'inbound links = relevancy' model." to be nonsense. Links and 'old school' SEO works. There's no denying it.

Having re read this article it is incredibly vague and so basic it's unreal and it's not backed with any facts whatsoever. More so, I'm pretty sure you've written this for a link which is old school SEO in itself.

In my opinion, a novice or someone who reads this to 'DIY SEO' are going to seriously struggle. You suggest to leave old school SEO behind, if people were to do that then quite frankly Google will leave them behind.

about 2 years ago

Joe Friedlein

Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media

I agree with Ronnie that a lot of 'old school' SEO remains valid, although I also agree with others that a lot of it is total rubbish.

I have absolutely no doubt, however, that links remain important. This remains the easiest way for Google to assess the quality of any webpage although it is most definitely a quality rather than quantity game now (see http://www.browsermedia.co.uk/2015/11/04/link-building-is-dead/).

What amazes me is how few businesses use the insight that you have at your fingertips with keyword research. This is very much an 'old school' SEO activity but one that I believe should be involved at the start of pretty much any business venture.

Good keyword research will also help to avoid the avalanche of dire content that is being produced these days as Google tells webmasters that they need to produce content. With an accurate understanding of what your users REALLY want, you can be sure to write relevant content.

The SEO is dead debate will continue to rage but, whilst the search engines continue to drive so much traffic, anyone ignoring search is missing out on a massive opportunity.

almost 2 years ago

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