Two years ago, if your SEO consultant was reporting on things like “keyword density” in your posts or warning against using a subdomain for your WordPress blog, or concerning you with your URL structures, I would say she was doing her job.
SEO used to be mostly about how to convince Google (and other search engines) into ranking your website pages higher in search results than someone else’s website pages.
SEO was a game. And games need players.
If you look back even further than two years, hacking search engines was an even simpler game and therefore players didn’t need to be that sophisticated—spammy link building and keyword stuffing went a long way.
As a result Google (and other search engines) started getting smarter, emphasizing semantic search as a priority. The game got harder to play, and therefore SEO consultants became hired guns to help you get your website ranked higher with “black hat” SEO magic! Essentially, your SEO consultant was competing with other people’s SEO consultants and the better expert would win.
Google (and other search engines) didn’t intend to make SEO a game. They were simply looking to provide their audience with the most relevant results.
With Hummingbird, Google announced that it finally cracked the code on being less machine-like, and being more “human”—search ranking would be based more on inherent value to the audience, as measured by their consumption of what they clicked on versus some preconceived notion of what pages would be relevant before they were ever consumed.
This spelled big trouble for SEO consultants. Keywords, meta descriptions, page structure, URLs, all of a sudden were less important. Still important, but less. Engagement, time spent on page and sharing took the stage.
With Google’s latest changes, SEO has become almost completely based on the content’s value to its audience, including the experience on mobile. There’s plenty of proof. (Check out this article or this infographic). And we all saw it coming because there’s really no better way to rank content other than by its measured value to its audience.
I’m not suggesting that traditional SEO techniques aren’t valid. Of course your URL should include information about the page. Of course your page should have a valid description. And of course you should structure your HTML appropriately. But not for search engines, for humans.
You see, if your URL includes information about the page, a human will determine if that page may have value to them. If the description is accurate, a human can better determine if it’s worth reading more. If the page is structured properly, a human—perhaps with disabilities, or perhaps using another reader service—can consume your content more easily and therefore potentially benefit from it.
SEO has finally become more about humans than search engines. (Tweet this)
Therefore, it’s no surprise that many forward thinking SEO experts from 2 years ago are now offering content marketing services—ideation, curation, writing and editing.
On the other side of the tracks however, you’ll find there are still many SEO experts who haven’t given up on their craft, their line of work, and are therefore completely overvaluing the SEO requirements of yesteryear to avoid having to adapt their skillset.
That is why I say beware. Be wary if your SEO consultant meets this latter profile. They will inevitably steer you in the wrong direction, only to maintain their perceived value. Their back is against the wall, and if they’re not moving with the times, they’re keeping you in the past.
Content Marketing is the new SEO.