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This last week, Ben and I attended Search Marketing Expo (SMX) East in New York City. For the three day conference, industry leaders and search engines representatives met to discuss some of the biggest trends (both noticed and forecasted) in the search realm—including paid and organic search. In this blog post, I discuss some of the main takeaways for the SEO industry that become apparent throughout many of the sessions attended:
- The future of SEO
- The future of content creation
- The future of link building
The Future of SEO: Is It Dead?
It seems that everyone you meet is questioning whether SEO is dead. They wonder, is Google going to go to paid search? Is there anything you can do anymore to optimize your rankings? The short answer: SEO is not dead.
Why did so many experts say that with such certainty? Google updates the algorithm so many times a year. If they were trying to kill SEO, they wouldn’t update it or test new approaches. They’re adjusting what SERPs will give the user the best results/experience—the presenter put it that they’re adjusting the goal posts. And as long as Google is adjusting the goal posts, there’s a game to win. SEO is not dead.
The Future of Content Creation: Quantity vs. Quality
In the past, there was a huge emphasis on producing content to match any and all search queries that potential customers would search. For example, you might have a “heating repair” page and a “furnace repair” page on your HVAC site to provide a useful webpage for both search queries. As scary as it is, Google is getting smarter—through semantic search, the search engine is getting back at interpreting user intent and producing results that meet the search needs. Many experts touched on the point that going forward, it’s not about the number of pages your have but the quality of those pages. In a sense, there will be fewer URLs in the future…but those pages will be better. Better meaning they help the user find the exact answer they need. Because in the end, we all go to search engines when we need an answer to a question.
The Future of Link Building: Penguin & Penalties
Link building was a big theme throughout many of the sessions (even sessions that weren’t focused solely on link acquisition or penalty removal). For SEOs, the question of ethical link building and its impact on SEO has been on the agenda of conferences like these for years. Many SEOs shy away from the practice in order to not anger the Google Gods. Other braver souls see what creative ways they can execute to expand their natural link profile. There were two big takeaways from the conference:
(1) A Penguin update is coming…soon. The representative from Google couldn’t say exactly when but said it should be within a week or two (“Maybe next week” if we quote him exactly). Unfortunately for all your link building bandits out there, updating your disavow file now won’t do you any good for the anticipated roll out. It’s too late to update your disavow file and try to get in with Google’s good graces by “maybe next week,” but there is hope that Google will be refreshing Penguin more frequently—meaning you don’t have to wait as long in between refreshes for an algorithmic penalty to be lifted (if you’ve done the heavy lifting of clearing your domain too).
(2) Build links through content. The only truly recommended link building strategy supported across the board is to build links through high quality content. That doesn’t mean writing a blog post and building links through a press release. If you create high quality content, the links should come as people share and reference your work.
Want to learn more insight from the conference? Read our session recap coverage here:
- What Is Hummingbird & the Search Entity Revolution
- Deconstructing Pigeon: Google’s New Local Search Algorithm
- What Should SEOs Be Doing with Mobile?
- 25 Smart Examples of Structured Data
- Local SEO Q&A Session
- Long Term SEO Success: Win for Years, Not Days
- Keyword Research for Better Content & Audience Engagement
About The Author: Hannah is the SEO Team Lead at Blue Corona. If she's not busy daydreaming about the training session for her team, you can find her improving client conversion rates and planning her next trip.
View more blogs by Hannah Nelson