Future-proofed your SEO? The next generation search is here
Stop living in the SEO past - I'm going to share with you my views on where SEO is going, and why it wont just be links that are important.
Back in the early 1990s when most of us who used the internet were using dialup to access it, there were not only a lot LESS web sites, but it was actually costing money to view them, and we were paying by the minute! So recommendations (in the form of links) were pretty important in those days. That's why the search engines valued links so much. They still do, but now they are choosy about which links are seen as "worthwhile". Its not just links (html links) they look at. The search engines still think links are important, but as we all know some links are more important than other, and some links, frankly, you can do without.
No-Follow Busted: It's only A MATTER OF TIME We have already seen that some search engines look like they are ignoring the <nofollow> tag and are following them anyway. Did you really think the likes of Yahoo, Google and Bing (and the 100s of other players) would let you "hide" things from them? Think about it, they are in the information gathering business. Sooner or later everything you put on the internet gets seen by a search bot one way or another. If Google doesn't follow your <nofollow> someone else's bot does, and that appears somewhere and in due course Google's bot, or someone else's bot sees that third party reference to your link and the <nofollow> becomes a bit redundant So in the future, maybe sooner than you think, a no-follow link will be as useful as any other link. Still feel so precious about not posting or exchanging with no-follow webmasters? And if you don't believe it, are you still going to risk it?
Actual Links will be replaced by contextual results in search It is already well within the scope of search algorithms to figure out that when a site's name is mentioned, particularly if it is a business site, or well indexed. Just the mention of, for example "dave's red widget website" will produce a link straight to the site in search results. So even if you can't add an actual "link", take any opportunity to mention your web site by name, be consistent and the search engines will figure it out. The technology is there now. The era of the link-less link is dawning. Still turning your nose up at blogs where you can't add a link? And if you don't believe it, are you still going to risk it?
Starting to sound a bit old-school? Yes! it's about getting your name about not just your link. It's part of MARKETING. SEO is a part of the marketing strategy for your web site. Many website's are extensions of existing businesses, others are businesses in their own right (ecommerce sites). Search has become a marketing opportunity, and the flip side of the coin is that any marketing you do can find it's way onto the internet and then into search sooner or later.
Off-web SEO, one step on from off-site-SEO You can already see this when local newspapers may have an article on a local business (Dave's red widget shop, for example) and publish it in their weekly online edition as well, with or without a link doesn't matter, or won't matter soon. Books, magazines, pamphlets and publications all over the world are being scanned and crammed into databases which the search engines have access to, so any mention of your business, web site or product in print will end up "on the web".This is not just off-site SEO, this is off-web-seo. And this is where you steal the march on your competitors, because it will be very hard for them to copy what you are doing.
I have a couple of "competitors" to my web sites (which are an extension of my real-world business) who I can guarantee will copy any new content or product that I put on my site within a fortnight of it appearing. They may change a few words here or there, and add their own pictures instead of ripping off mine, and they'll also under-cut my prices, I know from the amount of time they spend on my sites (from their IP addresses) that they have "stolen" the keywords that work for me, they have copied my linking strategy as best they can, and for sure they have done the "ten steps to perfect SEO" ebook thing and "optimised" their sites far better than I do in an attempt to get a slice of the business from Google's first page. But I'm still top in search, while they are half way down the page, or on the second page with my badly designed, crappy SEO'd pages. That's because I dont' pay any regard to whether a link is follow or no-follow, or even if i get a link. In any post on the web simply mentioning the business name can be enough to help in search results. The competitors see on-site and off site SEO as the be-all and end-all to getting their site higher in search, but I see it as just a part of marketing the business (web sites). They are spending all their time on the holy grail of SEO, and I'm simply getting my name out there -anywhere and letting the search engines come to me. Which is what they prefer doing anyway, and is what they are designed to do.
After following Google's guidelines for webmasters you can pretty much say that the engines will find you, and that eventually any marketing you do off the internet will find it's way onto the internet anyway. So don't neglect traditional marketing or you may regret all the time you spent on that SEO. Regular marketing is SEO nowadays.