The State of SEO In 2017 and How We Got Here

Spencer MerrymanSEO

For the past decade, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become an increasingly popular buzzword in the advertising and digital marketing industry. The problem is that what SEO was ten years ago is very different than what SEO looks like today.

Businesses today understand that SEO is something they need to be doing, but the widespread utilization means that the market is more competitive than ever. This can be compared to the competition that would ensue if ten ice cream shops opened on the same block. We are constantly competing with one another, working for the exact same keywords and pushing the exact same targets towards the exact same products and services.

Today, on-site and off-site SEO are absolute necessities, especially when establishing trust with search engines. Google and other search engines weigh the trustworthiness of a site based on its link profile and by how many sites link to it. Google sees these backlinks as a letter of recommendation; another site saying “this information is relevant, I think I will share it.”

With this technology, people took notice and realized the links didn't even have to be relevant. They proceeded with building countless irrelevant links on irrelevant sites in hopes of a better ranking, which only served to create a confusing user experience. People also realized that their on-site keywords don't have to be relevant either, and began stuffing their site with keywords that had high search volumes but nothing to do with their product or service. A modern example of this tactic would be when people add #KylieJenner on their Instagram posts just to get likes, even if their post doesn't have anything to do with Kylie Jenner at all. This understandably gave search engines some trust issues, so they created an algorithm that could determine the validity of a site’s content. This means you can’t stuff your site with the keyword ‘tacos’ when your business sells car tires.

This all begs the question, “how do we create trust between our site and Google?”

People took to creating blogs, news, and on-site content outside of their general marketing messages. This was a great solution because Google could constantly crawl sites for new content. This trend sparked the notion that “content is king,” but then, of course, everyone started writing blogs. The market became oversaturated, and once again there were too many ice cream shops on the block.

Nowadays it's hard to rank just from on-site SEO alone, but it's even harder to gain quality backlinks that won’t hurt your site’s ranking. In the quest to discover the next great way to increase rankings effectively and efficiently, we've found a simple solution.

About 2 years ago, Google started crawling social media content on Facebook, Google+, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, and most other major social media sites. Content is still king, but now the content and the frequency of its posting on social platforms was most important. A business with constant, relevant posts and engagement across all social platforms is practically cutting its heart out and giving it to Google. The best thing you can do to build trust with the search engines is to simply be active. It might not be fully off-site, but it tells search engines you are still operational, people still like you, and you are trying to stay relevant.

We think the biggest mistake businesses make these days is choosing not to cater to Google and other social media platforms. Narrow targeting, small ad spend, and strong social media engagements lead to data that can clearly show a success. SEO still means search engine optimization, but it truly involves so much more; it is the entire ecosystem that you have to nurture to keep your digital equity alive and growing.