There’s been a lot of talk about the evolution of SEO as Google continues to hone their search algorithms with the Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird (their most recent algorithm).
I got an interesting question through my contact form last week related to this discussion:
I’m connecting with other bloggers to learn more about their SEO practices. As an avid blogger, how important would you say is on-page SEO to your blog – especially after the Panda/Penguin updates?
Mustafa, thanks for the question! I don’t think that the Penguin or Panda updates mean that a website owner should necessarily focus more on on-page or off-page efforts. I think the real change that we’re seeing is a shift in what SEO is and will be moving into the future.
How my own SEO strategy has changed in the last couple years…
When I started doing SEO, my off-page focus was on building links. I never bought links as that always seemed to be something that Google would penalize in the future (and they did), but I did do a fair amount of hunting down places that I could get do-follow links from. My focus now is on having my clients write awesome content related to what they do, and attracting links by getting them to the right communities (through social media, online communities, forums, etc). Don’t spam these communities, engage with them and become a trusted expert in that field. It takes some time but it’s worth it for the right ones. I still get clients listed in niche directories, help them link up with niche sites where they can guest blog, and reach out to be added to a sites resources section when applicable, but the era of paid link building and other schemes that don’t make sense in terms of real-world relationships seem to be coming to an end.
When I started doing SEO, my on-page focus was on optimizing content for search engines. My focus now is on optimizing content for readers. I still make sure to send the signals to search engines that this site is about “topic x” and if it’s a local organization, I make sure to send geographic signals as well by including the city name in various places, but it’s more important than ever to write great content on your website and not to go down the road to over-optimized jumbled text. Quality content takes the cake and I’m sure we’ll see that trend continue.
So How Has SEO changed?
To me it’s not really a question of on-page vs. off-page optimization, it’s a question of optimizing for search engines versus optimizing for your readers. 90% of my efforts are in providing a valuable, easy-to-digest resource for readers, while 10% is making sure that Google’s crawlers know what my site is about. Keyword research and understanding what kinds of terms people are using to search is still important as well, as are other technical aspects of SEO (e.g. redirecting old pages, using headings on pages, etc)
I’m just going to go ahead and post a link to an article that I think really hits the nail on the head in terms of the direction that SEO-minded people should be heading and really goes into detail on specifics. Check it out!
Here’s an article that really solidified my philosophy on what a good SEO strategy for 2013 consists of. I send it to every new client. As Google rolls out Hummingbird update, which determines relevance for long tailed search results (e.g. questions) this kind of thinking will be even more important. I’ve been doing this for my own blog a lot lately too – answering questions.
Thanks Mustafa; hope that gives you a little more insight into my thoughts on SEO strategy post- Panda & Penguin and the shifting landscape in general.
Other helpful resources on SEO strategy post Panda & Pengiun:
What else do you think will be important for SEO (and online visibility in general) in 2013? Sound off in the comments!