The Olden Days
Back around 2008 there was an explosion of SEO companies that for the most part all had the exact same strategy as follows:
1. Perform some shotty on-page changes that included keyword stuffing and internal link manipulation
2. Spam 100’s or 1000’s of links from sites with varying page ranks (usually inflated) that contained usually unreadable “search engine based” content and that all had the same 4 anchor texts.
3. Charge their clients unreasonable amounts of money
The sad thing is that for the most part this strategy worked! Spamming links and stuffing keywords on web pages actually provided big SERP movements and allowed these so-called “marketing companies” to gain huge profits and many “satisfied” clients in the process. Until..
The Penalties that Changed SEO
Matt Cuts the leader of Webspam at Google announced their algorithm updates named Panda & Penguin that changed the game for good. Google has always preached white-hat SEO tactics, but now they put their money where their digital mouths were. The Panda update (early 2011) focused on content and keyword stuffing, penalizing sites that used an over excess of keywords on their pages as well as manipulative inter-linking. The infamous Penguin update (early 2012) made a much bigger stir because it actually penalized websites for having suspicious looking link profiles, more specifically heavy use of the same anchor text. Sites with more than 50% of the same anchor text could be almost guaranteed a big fat Google penalty.
These algorithm updates made huge strides in Google’s attempt to end web spam and deliver more relevant search results, while simultaneously putting a lot of so-called “Miami SEO Companies” out of business.
SEO in 2013 & Social Media’s Influence on Search
The truth is SEO has changed from its keyword stuffing and link spam days and Social Media is beginning to play a much bigger role in the process. Below is snapshot from SEOMoz’s 2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors:
At the time this chart was published (almost 2 years ago) it marked the first time Social Metrics had ever been measured in the Google search algorithm. Nowadays it can be argued that Social Signals are taking up an even bigger part of the pie, eclipsing the relevancy of links more and more. This becomes an even more relevant subject in SEO as Google itself is now beginning to use its own Social Media Network to give relevancy to pages, links, & authority.
Google + & Rel=Author Tag – The X Factor
Google + since its inception has been making splashes in the SEO world for its implications in Google’s search algorithm, imagine the same website (application) you use for internet search is the same one that you use for Social Media interactions? The obvious fact is that they will share and compile the personal data about their users resulting in the most highly targeted media marketing in history. With all of your searches, likes, and follows being recorded they know more about you than even your closest relatives. It isn’t until recently however that we have begun to see this in action affecting SEO results, specifically with the rel=author tag. More than likely you have already begun to see this new feature in action:
The real relevance behind the rel=author tag is the ability to assess the value of a page (or link) based on the actual author of that page. Before the release of the rel=author tag Google relied on the PageRank of a website to assess its value or “authority”, Page Rank is based on incoming links and their value. Now Google has a much more credible measurement tool to assess the authority of a website, Author Rank. By using the Author Rank to assess the credibility of a web page and its author Google now possesses a tool that cannot be fooled by link schemes, giving full transparency to website ownership, something Google and its search engine relevancy can stand to gain a lot from. So how do you add the rel=author tag to your website? By connecting your Google + account! In fact this is the only way that you can show Google that you are the author of a website and we have already begun to see the implications of Author Rank on search results and they are positive to say the least.
In pages that possess a high Author Rank from a trusted, well respected author tend to outperform pages with instances of thousands of high quality links, even when that page has >20 links. This is ground breaking new territory in the way SEO is being conducted and assessed and will continue to have huge implications on SERP results in the future.
What Does it All Mean?
Quite simply, web spam is out & quality shareable content is in. And now Google has real power relevant metrics to analyze the actual quality of your content and website. This is the kind of concept that will send many half-ass faux SEO companies into obscurity with their tail between their legs. But for qualified Internet Marketing professionals this is an exciting time in the industry where quality work and consulting can shine through.