Google finally killing off-page SEO

As we reported back in June, Google’s recent algorithm change has shifted the focus away from SEO “techniques” (I call them deluded, but that’s a whole other story) and moved towards quality, original content. The great news, for writers that is, should see the focus on quality writing and getting rid of those ‘orrible, spam-soaked, pages we’re kinda used to seeing.

Just a few years ago, it was a real nightmare writing copy for web-pages as, it seemed, about 75% of the brain-power was spent working out how to phrase your meaning in such a way that it included the right keywords, with the right proximity … but not too much. To be frank, it was a grim time and the quality of copy, generally, on the internet was dire. So, thanks Google for fixing this, but please remember that this was a problem of Google’s making. In past they’ve made some examples of high-profile companies and penalised them very heavily.

Making it worse, every SEO expert had a different view on how many keywords and what technique should be used so you had to learn to adapt to vague whims of these experts who, at best, were condescending and at worst were doom-sayers of the highest order. I’ve sat in client meetings when an SEO company has said “You can’t do that, you must do it this way … but we can’t promise what will happen either way”. It’s been fun watching the SEO experts pivot so fast away from what they believed in. Refreshingly so.

Google has, over the last few years, made a major assault on SEO and the companies that pushed their snake-oil services and it’s now coming to fruition. They have, ironically, always said that content should be written for real people but in the background horrible little legacy “machines” kept on rewarding those that ignored the mantra and looked for cheats and workarounds.Google, I think, were starting the feel the pain, and even some industry observers suggested that the giant might have lost its way in the past.

If you listened to an SEO expert in the mid-noughties he or she would have talked about page rank, in-bound links, domain authority and bunch of other gobbledy-gook. It was unfathomable and also seemed to change every 20 minutes. Now we can say goodbye to black-hat SEO and focus on quality content (with a hat-tip to best practices, such as meta tags).

Pandas and Penguins

Google’s two big changes are now rolled out across all it’s search platforms and it’s changed the space forever (or for the moment, in reality). How Google now measures the relevancy of pages has nothing to do with keyword density, domain name or URLs. Google now uses (a bastardised version of)  semantic indexing to comprehend and judge the relevancy of the content.

What, I suspect, we’ll see is far higher quality writing, less spammy pages and a much richer experience on the web. I, for one, have been waiting a long time for this to happen.

By Martin Dower