Ah, Search Engine Optimization. It conjures so many different images, and many are tainted with the poison of cheating and manipulation. As noted in an earlier Digital Cruise article, “black hat” SEO became popular about a decade ago, and while Google and other search engines have tried to change things up such that they don’t work as well, shady SEO practices still abound. On the plus side, however, trends indicate that disingenuous SEO practices are out, leaving room for truly quality content to be a big player in SEO in the future. Here’s why.
1. Google alternatives that are human based are gaining ground.
Even though Google’s catchphrase has always been “Don’t be Evil”, many Internet users are beginning to see the limitations of Google’s search that’s based on an impersonal algorithm. As such, alternatives have sprung up, the most noteworthy being Blekko, which enables users to modify their searches in a Wiki-style oversight effort. In this way, shoddy content that’s search engine optimized but does not bring substantive value to the user will quickly become less relevant. Although Blekko and others of its ilk are still very niche, today’s little search-engines-that-could will be tomorrow’s big players.
2. Google responded to user requests to get rid of content farms that dominate the top searches. This is only the beginning.
Only a few months ago, Google took a big leap in response to the domination of content farms like eHow, Livestrong, Mahalo, and others, by tweaking their algorithm such that many of these sites that generate poor but not terrible content were ranked lower than they usually are. While some Google users said that they didn’t change much, this is only the first big step against content that screams for attention but has nothing to say. More will surely follow. In fact, in response to Google’s changes, Blekko went all out and completely banned over a million sites from its search engine.
3. More and more people are realizing the Web’s limitations.
For the past ten years or so, we’ve experienced a Web 2.0 honeymoon stage, in which the exciting new advances on the web, including social media, crowd sourcing, open source, etc., could do no wrong. Now, however, I’ve noticed that many books and articles in the media are becoming more and more critical about many popular Internet tools and applications, and many of these complaints stem from the exploitative qualities of some Internet businesses. While we can argue whether or not this is true, there is a measured amount of discontent brewing, something SEO experts should be aware of.
While of course, engine-focused and user-focused SEO will continue to dominate SEO best practices, there’s much going on out there in the quickly changing world of the Internet that suggests that the scales are tipping toward the user. Seen in this light, SEO practitioners would be well advised to focus more on the true quality of their content in order to reap benefits later.
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