Where is SEO going

Clematis-image introducing SEO blot post

I have been working in SEO since 2000, almost the dawn of time.  We all know it is always changing and always has been – oh for the days of Webposition Gold when all we had to do was get a few keywords in the right places, work on the keyword density and up went the rankings!  A dim and distant memory – and just as well too one might say!

The really big algorithm updates all made sense – Florida was an early one, then caffeine and more recently the two really big ones, panda and penguin and of course hummingbird.  There have of course been lots more.

But where is SEO going now?  I recently attended BrightonSEO, a great event with lots of excellent sessions.  I am a freelancer working on my own so what really made an impression on me was talking to all the agency people there, all of whom were saying how much penalty related work they were picking up from other agencies that had left their clients with sites that had Google had penalised.  I didn’t meet any agencies who admitted to being responsible for the penalties but perhaps they don’t attend so many conferences.

The results of all these penalties is that sites and SEOs are becoming paranoid about doing anything that might incur Google’s wrath, and that means anything at all it seems.  On forums, on blogs, on SEO websites, everywhere there are warnings about doing this or that and what the results may be.  Guest blogging is a prime example.  Not so long ago, guest blogging was the in thing, now it is often described as little better than spam that will almost inevitably result in a penalty! 

The result is that the no follow tag is being used everywhere.

At the end of March, Econsultancy have started no following links to just about everywhere including the links from authors’ bios.  The no follow tag was brought in initially to prevent spam in blog comments, a sensible answer to a real problem.  Then it became useful to differentiate ‘natural’ links from paid links – perfectly legitimate paid links but not the vote that a link from a site was meant to be as understood by Google’s algorithm.

But if econsultancy (and others, I am using econsultancy just as an example) is saying we don’t want to associate ourselves from our authors’ sites, then why is econsultancy using those authors?  I think their answer would be that Google can’t differentiate good links from bios on respectable sites and spam ones which, if true, does not say much for the robustness of Google’s current algorithm. 

Personally I wouldn’t go to all the trouble of writing the kind of high quality article/post that a worthwhile site would want to publish if I weren’t going to get a follow link back.  Unless of course they paid me.

I may be naïve but I think that good honest white hat SEOs need to keep their nerve.  Good SEO has always been first and foremost about doing what is right for the visitor, and then taking a second look at what is right for the robots, and if the two clash (which is rare) the user should always wins.

I still believe in guest blogging!  If a good quality article is published on a good quality, high authority site, then it is good for the visitor to see a link back to the author’s site, and although it doesn’t make any difference to the user it is nofollow, I don’t see why the author shouldn’t get the credit.  Perhaps Google will start deciding that any site that publishes content that it wishes to disassociate itself from as identified by the sue of nofollow should itself penalised – why is it publishing content it thinks is iffy?

Post by : Sally Kavanagh

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