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By Alan Coleman on 17 Jan 2014

Those who have seen Wolfgang speak at events will be familiar with one of our slides proclaiming SEO is Dead – RIP SEO. To be fair that is a bit of an overstatement. SEO is not dead, rather SEO as it has been practiced for the majority of its life is dead. By this I mean the black hat activity of building unnatural anchor text links and creating content simply for search engines. Google has become much smarter at detecting SEO activity that is designed to deceive them. SEO has evolved and some recent changes by Google point the way for the future of SEO.

1) Google does not want you to concentrate on keywords

In case you didn’t know, Google has removed keyword data in Google Analytics for Organic Traffic when a user is signed into a Google property. This is a fairly contentious issue as many have questioned whether this is a ploy to push more people towards Googles paid Adwords service. Whatever the purpose, there is now considerably less keyword data available for Organic traffic. It is like Google does not want you to concentrate on keywords.

2) Semantic search

Google’s September algorithmic update, Hummingbird, left SEOs buzzing about semantic search.. Those familiar with Google’s algorithm used to determine organic ranking will be familiar with Penguin & Panda updates. Well in September Google announced a major change to their algorithm which they titled Hummingbird. This change saw an improvement in Google’s understanding of semantic search. Semantic search is all about understanding the intent and the context of the terms used in the search query. So Google is looking beyond the keyword to understand the relationship between a search term and what the user wants.

3) The importance of Authority

Authority is Google’s response to the black hat SEO practice of creating content for the sole purpose of creating anchor text links. Google wants to know who is creating the content, who these content creators are connected to and what these content creators are talking about. Google will then understand what areas these people are Authorities in, and this content will rank higher. The concept of Authority is evidenced in Google Authorship, whereby you link the content you create with your Google Plus profile. Though Google recently announced that there would be less search results showing with Authorship, there is no need for concern. This simply means that Google are ramping up their criteria for being an Authority. There have been other changes, such as the way the Search Engine Results Page appears, but I feel the above paint the clearest indication as to where SEO has moved.

SEO in 2014: What should you be doing?

1) Original content

Create original content that your customers want to engage with. Do not spend all your energy worrying about creating keyword rich content. Google crawls your website on a regular basis. They know what your website is all about.

2) Relationship building

Build relationships and grow your connections. Creating content alone will not build your Authority. Enable Google Authorship and grow your circles. It is like that iPhone joke – How do you know if someone has an iPhone? Because they tell you. Tell Google that you are an authority by growing your online relationship and circles within Google Plus.

3) Natural Links

And the elephant in the room. Links. I have briefly touched on links but needless to say links are still key in SEO. However, they need to be natural. If you engage in the above, creating content and growing circles, then the natural progression is that these people will link to your content, naturally. This is where SEO is in 2014 and beyond. SEO is dead. Long live SEO.

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