SEO – The Game may have Changed, but the Rules are Still the Same

It’s interesting to me that so many people feel that “Google keeps changing the rules” for SEO.  The rules have never changed, there’s always been good SEO and bad SEO.

Good SEO is also referred to as White Hat and as you might guess, bad search engine optimization practices are referred to as Black Hat. Just like in the old Westerns, the good guys wear the white hats and you always know it’s a bad guy if he’s wearing a black one.  There can also be shades of grey when it comes to SEO, although in my mind it’s either right or wrong.  If it’s only ‘sorta right,’ or ‘not all that bad,’ chances are that it’s going to move out the grey and into the black.

White hat practices have always focused on one primary goal: providing value to your visitors.

It’s never been about traffic, links, keywords, or content.  Yes those are all important factors and essential to SEO, but not the focus.

Traffic: The focus should be to attract and drive the right traffic to your website, not lots of traffic.  If you can do both that’s awesome, but if you’re driving traffic and it’s not converting into sales or generating leads, you’re either not reaching the right audience or not providing value when they get to the site.

  • Links: The goal should be to acquire links from  other websites that have authority, provide value, and are relevant to your visitors.  The links need to be on sites that your potential visitors like and trust.
  • Keywords: Keywords are important, but context is even more important, using the right keyword in the wrong way provides no value to the visitors because it lacks relevance.
  • Content: Spinning the same concept six ways to Sunday in an attempt to publish as much content as possible has always been a bad idea. Writing unique original content that informs, enlightens, or entertains has always been a great idea and is what adds value to a website.

The world of search engine optimization has gotten more complex and challenging with the personalization, localization, and socialization of search results.  And I won’t deny that the changes in Google’s algorithms have had an impact on SEO, particularly on the way people think about content and link building.  Panda was introduced to address issues with poor quality and duplicate content. Penguin’s focus was aimed at penalizing websites that were violating Google’s Webmaster guidelines and practicing things like spammy link building.

Many people look at Panda and Penguin as changes to the rules, but I look at them as being enforcers of the rules and a really positive thing for search engine optimization and more importantly for all of us who rely on Google to deliver the most relevant results.

SEO is as Easy as 1-2-3

  1. Build a quality website that’s easy to navigate and has valuable content
  2. Create and publish original content that helps your visitors answer questions and solve problems
  3. Distribute your content through high quality links from other websites

The rules of SEO can be summed up easily, focus on doing what’s right for your visitors and you’ll be rewarded by the search engines, but more importantly by your customers.

What’s your point of view – is Google changing the rules or enforcing them?