Upon doing my regular travels around the usual SEO news sites this week I came across an interesting interview published by Australian search marketer James Norquay, in which he spoke with former Google employee Andre Weyher.
The interview provided some great insight in to the thoughts of an ex-member of Matt Cutts’ Search Quality Team, but there was line in particular that stood out from Weyher: “forget about SEO.” Okay, this will not come as a surprise to many people, and there are plenty of marketers out there that have been saying this for years; however, hearing it from a former Google employee – a man that knows the inner workings of the search engine we try so hard to please – adds extra significance.
So if we’re being told not to use SEO, what exactly should we be doing? Well according to Wehyer, marketers should be looking to develop sites and content that “speaks to users” and that it is “most important to “focus on content quality.”
“Try to work on your website as if SEO was not a part of your plan,” Wehyer tells Norquay in the interview. “Create content out of a sincere interest and enthusiasm for the topic of your page. This is what Google and your users want from you.”
Wehyer’s point is correct; although I would not go as far as to say forget about SEO, it is true that the processes required for search engine optimisation have changed. Essentially, what Wehyer is talking about – focussing on quality content – is still SEO, but with more focus on providing articles, blog posts and videos for the users and opposed to the search engines. Following the latest Penguin update, Google is rewarding sites with valuable content in the SERPs, so it isn’t so much forgetting about SEO, as evolving and developing new strategies.
Wehyer also had this to say about link building: “Everyone knew that Penguin would be pointed at links, but I don’t think many people expected the impact to be as large as it turned out to be. At this stage a webmaster is out of his mind to still rely on techniques that were common practice 8 months ago.”
Again this is true, as Penguin has changed link building dramatically; however, not to the point where it is obsolete. What the Penguin update has done has placed the emphasis on top quality links instead of those that are irrelevant and from low quality sources such as link farms. If you can get yourself some good backlinks by writing guest posts, and commenting informatively on reputable forums, your search engine ranking will benefit as a result.
As the recent study by Compete.com (which we talked about here last week) showed, organic listings are still essential for website traffic and using SEO is the best way to get your set in first position.
The advice that Andre Wehyer gives is interesting and the interview with James Norquay is well worth a read, however, I believe that providing we all adapt to the Google changes, SEO will continue to be as valuable as ever.