Is SEO being turned inside out?
With the mainstreaming of social search (BING with Facebook, Google +1, Wajam…), it seems that the practice of search engine optimization (SEO) is going to have be thoroughly reviewed yet again. SEO has a habit of being defined by today’s rules, not tomorrow’s landscape. With social search, the top results on a search page will be vetted by my social network, meaning that any effects of SEO will have had to happen upstream. If the mechanisms of social search are appropriately managed, it will help bring contextually relevant results front and foremost, relegating SEO to a lesser role or, at least, to a lever used most by brands that fail to provide meaningful content. Below you see the effects of Wajam on the search: “what comes first the chicken or the egg.” Coincidentally, the lead result: keywords or content!
Optimizing Brand Content for the Search Engine
Digital marketers, spurred on by ‘specialist agencies’ keep looking at gaming Google’s ever fickle algorhythm with SEO. While that is totally respectable, I get the feeling that many people do not understand the strategic nature of SEO. There is a seeming disconnection between the “technical” aspects of SEO (and link hunting) with the brand’s mission, social engagement and content creation. On the one hand, you have the “old fashioned” mentality promoting a model of “redirecting” or buying traffic by gaming the algorhythm. SEO is somewhat reassuring because it is a rational activity. It is easy to buy. On the other hand, there are brands that are creating legitimate content that is more readable (with less rebarbative bolding, italics, double underlining…), but which struggles to come to the surface. Content creation is, by definition, a more creative process and is less obvious to be good at. Hopefully, the growing social component to search will help tip the balance in favor of content.
Content versus SEO. Who will win?
Whereas SEO still has a place because social search is still in its early days and because corporations will continue to need to feed the short-term hunger for immediate results, [good] content has the benefit of being durable. Where SEO can still play a critical role is by focusing the content creators to think strategically about the editorial line and what the audience wants. Otherwise, my belief is that social search is yet further evidence that content will be the longer-term winner. What is your opinion? Please don’t hesitate to comment!