Google has just released an SEO starter guide. The 22 page pdf document provides basic SEO advice targeted presumably at Webmasters and small business owners. It mainly coves on-page optimisation, whilst also touching on other marketing ideas such as blogging and social media.
So is this a move from Google into providing SEO consultancy? Is it a threat to SEO’s?
Well, if the SEO consultancy you provide is restricted to only the areas covered in the guide then perhaps Google is treading on your toes somewhat. I am mainly referring to those design/development agencies who claim to do SEO but in reality their expertise is limited to basic on-page work. This was good enough 5 years ago but not now on the basis that SEO has changed beyond all recognition. Although basic on-page optimisation remains important, factors such as Meta tags do not carry nearly as much weight as they once did in terms of improving search engine rankings. Don’t get me wrong, it is still important to get the basics right but what the Google guide doesn’t really mention in any great detail is the impact of the arrival of ‘blended’ or Universal Search and how this has changed the landscape. Added to that, the guide only briefly mentions other essential ways of communicating with your target audience, such as social media.
What constitutes SEO these days is very different to the basics that Google covers. A campaign limited to basic on-page optimisation is not nearly enough. It sets the foundations sure. But success online these days is determined by a ’rounded’ strategy that appreciates how the Internet and its users have evolved. We no longer simply rely on search engines as our sole means of finding information. We spend more time online than ever before and spend that time in new ways. We create; we share; we talk; we watch; we recommend; we research; we meet new people; we look for advice and we network, amongst other things. And all of this activity means that your target audience are spread over a wider area. So as marketers this means you have to do a lot more to reach this audience. Online marketing therefore requires a great deal more than the advice Google offers.
There has been plenty of talk in recent times on whether SEO is dead. SEO is not dead, it’s just changed beyond all recognition. The factors that used to play a significant role in achieving search engine rankings are no longer so important but they remain part of the mix. Optimising your site for search engines and user-experience set the foundations for success in activity such as video, podcasting, article creation/distribution, PR, blogging and social networking. These activities represent the new SEO actually making the term SEO in itself virtually redundant.
So thank you Google for your guide. Its a few years late but still remains a reasonably useful tool if you want to learn the basics…and I mean the basics.