The evolution of SEO: Why backlinks could be a thing of the past

by | Oct 26, 2020 | Analysis, Public Relations

Search engine optimization is often defined as a long-term strategy, with small dynamic changes throughout. As the classic idiom goes, slow and steady wins the race. This is the right approach for a savvy marketer’s game.

SEO, by nature, is a discipline that is always evolving. This creates both advantages and drawbacks for organizations, but understanding the importance of link-building in a modern SEO strategy shouldn’t be overlooked.

In fact, if marketers are employing outdated linking tactics, they can actually negatively impact their SEO results. The question therefore is: are backlinks becoming something of the past? Or do marketers just need to be smarter in their deployment of them?

We’ll take a good look at SEO and its relation to backlinks below.

Is it time to say goodbye to backlinks?

There are a ton of shady SEO practices done in the industry to cut corners. For instance, many shady marketers tend to push backlink stuffing, but in truth creating organic backlinks takes time. The search team at Google caught onto these tactics, which is why they started fighting back to help honest businesses not get lost in a sea of shady practices.

Since Google now looks at ranking by category, different sites that would have been credible and highly ranked in terms of SEO have lost a lot of their power. So instead of the sheer number of backlinks or traffic, Google’s algorithm focuses more on the richness and dynamism of content instead. This means the type, worth, uniqueness, and depth of your posts can be more important than your links, be that forwards or backwards.

Today, small businesses are taking online marketing more seriously than they ever have been, as 64 percent of businesses have increased their marketing budgets this year compared to last. This is also why it’s so important for these businesses to be aware of these changes in the SEO landscape so their investment is not put to waste.

SEO has evolved significantly and now factors like visuals, image alt tags, meta descriptions and writing depth are all considered when ranking your page under the new algorithm. In other words, producing dynamic content needs to be a high priority for businesses moving forward.

Make sure your new content is user-focused and varied. Don’t just focus on stuffing keywords into a long-form blog post. Despite Google showing more ads on search page results than ever before, a lot of customers will still avoid them, so those ads will cost more and SEO remains important, especially organically.

Utilizing organic SEO is ultimately among the most important marketing strategies for small businesses, mainly because it doesn’t cost anything and is therefore a viable and popular option for smaller entities. The rise of new content types for SEO is ever present and the last few years have seen a boom in infographics that create a visual representation of data, are easily shareable, and are a great way to create valuable backlinks.

SEO is here to stay

There are so many different ongoing developments in SEO and organizations can never afford to be stagnant. For example, video used to be fairly unimportant in SEO, but now websites that utilize videos rank higher in the SERPs, or search engine results pages.

Regardless of how often it changes or how much ad platforms rise in cost, SEO is here to stay. Organizations should not overlook the value of having a forward-thinking and adaptable online presence. In theory, the longer you have your site, the stronger your domain authority is (if you’re doing SEO correctly).

Longevity is rewarded by Google, so once you rank for a keyword in your business area or niche, you’ll be able to have that content as a stepping stone until it’s removed or your site is deleted.

The importance of SEO is so deep-seated in modern websites today. Most modern website builders such as WordPress, Wix, or Weebly actually incorporate SEO applications that make it easier for you to rank higher in results pages and drive traffic to your website. Examples include XML sitemaps, image sitemaps, and meta tags.

SEO tactics

One of the key ways to develop SEO content is utilizing Google’s keyword tool. This way, you can find high-volume, low competition keywords and create fresh content around them.

Using the popular skyscraper technique, you can look for unique approaches to new content by researching trends, topics and well-received content already created on similar topics. This can come in the form of a new medium, newer data and statistics, or even newly designed content.

Another good SEO tactic is called the Ego Bait Strategy, which in short means involving your audience in your content creation. The more effort it takes them, the more likely they are going to be to share your content. Ego Bait is a useful and valuable tactic and a great way to improve conversion numbers, especially if you utilize an influencer in the industry, either to attract customers to interact or for their pull on the market.

Evergreen Keyword targets are another valuable SEO tactic, and as the name suggests, you pick a keyword that has a large search volume, or peak increases, such as ‘holidays’, ‘seasons’, or ‘occasions’.

Working with content based around these terms means you can create things people are actually interested in and search for, and this organic traffic will help bring visitors and in turn authority to your site. Your new organic traffic then gives you a higher chance for on-site conversions and also gives you a base to create low-cost remarketing strategies and audiences.

Last but not latest, remember to never repost, as your content needs to always be 100% yours and unique. You will get penalized by Google if you attempt to do this incorrectly, but by using Google’s reporting tool, you can credit the originator without encountering issues.

Conclusion

Remember that SEO and backlinks fit into a much larger marketing strategy. They are an answer, but not *the* answer. Working alongside different channels are what will create your website authority and therefore increase traffic.

Contrary to the beliefs of certain online marketers, quality is definitely more important than quantity in terms of backlinks. As alluded to before, incorrectly utilizing backlinks can be detrimental. Despite all of this, within the last decade links have become an integral piece of your ranking puzzle. When used correctly they can aid your online presence immensely.

Hopefully, you’ll now have a better understanding of how SEO is impacted by backlinks and how it has evolved. Your new knowledge will hopefully be able to proactively impact your marketing efforts.

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Dan Fries
Dan Fries is Founding Partner at Lakeview Capital in Hong Kong.

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