I had lunch the other day with Adam Torkildson, arguably the top SEO consultant in Utah and one of the best in the country (we have tested his results extensively.)
He said something to me that blew me away.
“Google is in the process of making the SEO industry obsolete, SEO will be dead in 2 years.”
His explanation made a lot of sense. I will translate what he said with a little background because he talked pretty technical.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. 15% of SEO is internal which means to arrange your website so it has the best chance of being ranked high on Google. The other 85% of the SEO industry is to write articles, press releases, blogs, comments, and a slew of other content with built-in “backlinks” to your website and put them all over the web (like I just did for Adam in the first line of this blog… Thanks Adam.)
By definition SEO “games” the system with Google to get your content artificially ranked higher than it should be. Sure there is “white hat” SEO practices and “black hat” SEO practices. Black Hat is very obvious gaming of the system, and White Hat is just more subtle. The bottom line is that all SEO is counterfeit. If you need to write content and place it all over the web, it wouldn’t have been there on it’s own, so it’s fake. (But that is the SEO industry.)
Google wants well written content that benefits those who search, not content placed specifically all over the web with links to your website. Admit it, you just want to sell something, we all do.
So what is the right way? GREAT CONTENT THAT HAS SO MUCH VALUE PEOPLE TALK ABOUT IT. Truly organic “comments”, “likes”, “shares”, Google+, “tweets”, etc., that come from people who benefit and pass it on. (I realized in writing this I haven’t even had social buttons on my blog to make that easy to do, though I have still had lots of friendly readers who have passed it on, thanks everyone!)
The overly aggressive marketers always spoil it for everyone. Mmmm, let’s see… false advertisers, telemarketing at dinner time, unsolicited faxing, email spamming, now SEO.
It was Seth Godin that said “all marketers are liars,” I’m a marketer, so I can say this. I think it means that if you have to advertise a lot to change perceptions, it’s probably being “spun.” Think media and the current presidential race.
Adam told me that it is hardly about the links anymore, it’s about the metrics of engagement on your site.
It’s about social “shares”, and you can’t fake that. Now with recent policy changes, Google knows who everyone is once they open themselves up on the social realm. They will be able to tell the fake people. Facebook already knows. Adam did a test by creating 1000 fake account a year ago, but today they have all been banned.
I asked him how they figured it out, he said “I’m pretty smart, but I have no idea. That’s why they hire PhD’s! That’s why Google bought Twitter’s data. They failed to get Facebook data, but they rely on Facebook’s internal API. Now social signals are a much bigger part of the Google algorithm.” He continued, “I’ve already seen them using it, I know.”
So what do we do?
Adam grinned with resignation, “It’s the Hubspot strategy of great blog content with a massive opt-in audience. It’s the InsideSales.com approach with strong industry research. And it’s old-school PR. PR has made a full-on 180 degree swing. I started in PR as a major. Now it is the ultimate. Because it is about who you actually, really, know. It’s the buzz you create. And how much value you provide your community of followers in return.”
“So great content is king, and communities of avid followers make the king? And my friend Cheryl, of SnappConner PR will rule the world?”
“Yes, basically.” Adam went on, “Dell does a really good job. They have 1M followers on just one account in Twitter. Their team answers all direct messages from their community, and stays on top of their brand and reputation.”
I asked, “So how has this affected you?”
“We hardly do any of the any of the old SEO stuff. It still brings results, but not like it used to. Google is pulling the rug out to provide better search for their audience. They are routing out the counterfeiters. Now it must be real, valuable, content, and lot’s of community value and interaction.”
Stay tuned for 2 more of Adam’s predictions:
#3 Mobile Apps are the New Search
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A Complete Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes Articles, Including his newly updated “Definition of Inside Sales” and his #1 on all of Forbes (and most controversial) article “The Death of SEO”