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SEO is Dead, Long Live SEO

I recently spoke at London Bloggers Meetup: SEO Edition with the goal of helping bloggers to better understand their relationship with search and how to improve their ranking. You can find a transcript of the talk below, where I cover three fundamental elements of Search Engine Optimisation in 2014;

1. speed

2. user experience

3. authority and trust

You can also see a slideshare of mine and the two other speakers below too.

I welcome your feedback in the comments below. I’m a big believer that SEO as we know it is evolving into a respectable and strategic marketing tactic, something that is going to become a mainstream skill for any marketer. But what do you think…

Hi,

I’m Yiannis, and I’m here to convince you that SEO doesn’t really matter.

I’m here to give you a bit of background as to why optimising your website for search, isn’t the same game we played 5 years ago.

Google or Bing or Yahoo don’t care about your content or your code (and yes, I can feel you all screaming at me saying, “but that’s what I’ve been told SEO is”). Well, search engines just care about your users. Or more importantly your shared users.

Let me put this in context, in 2013 93 percent of Google’s overall revenue was linked to advertising. Which means, the directors at Google, probably looked something like this.

Over 90 per cent of Google’s multi billion dollar business came from matching users with what they want. At it’s heart, that it’s all that search is, matching people with the information they’re looking for. Whether that be shoes or stationary.

So how does that affect your website. Well, whether you get 200 users per month or you’re Huffington Post, everything comes down to providing the best experience for Google’s users, making sure they’re happy, satisfied, and most importantly, that they come back. Ensuring that you are the correct fit for the person searching, is all that should matter.

I’m going to cover three main areas. The speed at which your website loads, the experience of using your website, and how much trust and authority you’ve gained.

So… first let’s start with speed.

Speed matters. Speed matters a lot. 45 per cent of your users will leave if a page takes more than four seconds to load. Just 1 2 3 4 seconds and 45 out of 100 people have left the room.

And if people are leaving your site from search you can bet that search engines are keeping track of it, as well as over 200 points of data about your site and how it’s used.

In SEO circles, we call that jumping back to the search page behaviour, pogo sticking, and pogo sticking is bad news for your ranking. It means that people aren’t finding what they want, and that directly contradicts the purpose of search.

Second is User Experience

This could be a two hour long talk in it’s own right.

We could talk about usability for hours focusing on; less able users, user experience design, mobile experience, user journeys, attention, or a thousand other design tidbits, but for you guys I bet keeping users who have come in from search is a massive priority.

Be honest with me. How many people know what bounce rate is? Raise your hand if you do. /raise hand/

For all that don’t, it’s a measure of how many users only visit one page on your site, then leave.

Ok then, how many of you know your bounce rate? Abs where to find out?

Generally, if you’re at under 60% for your website, you’re doing well.

Now, how many of you know your bounce rate from search?

Really? That few? Well done you though.

Bounce from search really matters. Not only is pogo sticking bad. But it has so many other side-effects other than just your posts not getting read. If users aren’t staying on your site, then they’re not truly interacting with your content. Which means they’re not sharing your posts. Which means they’re likely reading posts from other sites which have a better user experience than yours .

On the highest level, user experience for your website is all about understanding what makes your users tick.

Understand why they want to read you, what’s in it for them, and what will keep them interested again and again. You should make keeping your users happy top priority, because as your website grows, this initial core-group are vital to give your website authority and trust.

Trust and Authority are the third factor…

Again, let me provide a bit of context.

Pre 2011 SEO involved a lot of link chasing. The most important factor for ranking in your chosen keyword was links, ideally thousands of them.

A lot has changed since then, at least with Google. Now what matters is authority and trust, which, at least in my mind is a far better metric than just farming links.

Just like offline, authority and trust are not things which you can manipulate independently. It’s almost better to call them proving your worth and getting recognised for it.

Authority is an amalgamation of the quality, diversity, when, where you get links from other websites. It used to be the case that you could just buy a few links and bob’s your uncle. A high ranking domain.

But now search is closer to an interaction you and I would have with an interviewer, with the interviewer being Google.  They would want to check your past roles, that you haven’t been doing the same job for 20 years, where you worked, and what results it had before you’re offered a position in search.

Trust, on the other hand, is the follow up interview. A more in depth look at who links to you. Google looks at how many links you are from a major source of trust, think along the lines of the BBC or respected centres of government, or education.

Google also looks at the experience your users are receiving as a measurement of trust. Core metrics such as time on site, pages viewed or bounce-rate all play into Google’s measure of trust.

And that’s when it all comes back to user experience.

Think of it like this. You shouldn’t be optimising your site for search, for most of your websites, this will come with time, if you create conversation around your website, continue to write focused, eloquent, posts and take actions which give your site more authority.

What you should invest as much time doing, is making sure that your users come back again and again, share and link to your posts and have a great experience using your site.

I know I haven’t had time to go in depth about specific tactics you can use to gain rankings in search. But what I really want to hammer home is this. All google wants to do is keep their users happy, they want them to find the right information, and know that they will always find what they want from Google.

So remember;

  1. Make your website fast,

  2. Make every page enjoyable and informative to be on,

  3. Give your users an opportunity to help you, by using, sharing and most importantly, coming back to your site.