In the last year or so, Google’s revenue from paid search has increased by almost 50% – together with the landscape changing updates released over the same period of time, these are clear indications of what Google wants us to do – less SEO and more PPC. But hasn’t this always been the case?
In general terms – yes, but recently we’ve been witnessing an acceleration of what can be summarised in the following terms:
-Google’s focus on big brands – as a result, the so-called ‘little guys’ like affiliates and small businesses generally suffered and saw their rankings drop
-Continuous changes and tweaks in the algorithm saw an almost complete reshuffle of the landscape, especially in the first 10 results or the first page, where big brands gained terrain and more recently, even exact match domains suffered as a result of an update specifically targeted and this type of sites, which in itself is quite interesting – the detail into which Google is ready to get in order to achieve its goals is truly extraordinary
-Google’s revenue from PPC has increased by almost 50%, which is a direct result of the changes I mentioned and the monopolist’s drive to make paid search an almost obligatory alternative for all important players in the search realm
Matt Cutts stated recently (again) that these changes are not attacks on SEOers, but evidence seems to suggest otherwise. From the names chosen for algorithm updates – Panda, Penguin etc, meant to discredit SEO professionals in front of their clients when things go wrong as a result of an update, to aggressive strategies that have made PPC a much more attractive option than investments in SEO, we are witnessing something that can be summarised only as Google being greedy.
Having said that, SEO is reemerging (again!) following these changes, but it is not becoming less important within the online marketing landscape: sites still need to be optimised and links are still the only more or less indicative factor when it comes to ranking search results. As complex as they are, links still serve as ranking factors, and that means SEO is as alive as ever, but SEOers need to be clever, mainly taking into consideration a few factors that have increased in importance in 2012, mainly:
-anchor text distribution – link profiles which are more balanced and don’t contain an exaggerated number of exact match text tend to do better in SERPS – it is no coincidence that all major link analysis tools have updated their link profile options in terms of anchor text
-brand anchor text – a strong brand is a good and long term link building strategy, so do not underestimate brand links!
-relevance of landing pages and mapping keywords to relevant pages in terms of content and titles, descriptions etc – you will surprised how many people still disregard this and end up with keywords mapped to different pages, which are often irrelevant and so on
Conclusion: Despite PPC growing in importance, SEO is as alive as ever! Only strategies that include branding, quality content and long term optimisation agendas will be the only ones to survive as viable digital marketing options.