Were you involved in the online marketing world back in 2010? Earlier? Ever as recently as a couple of years ago, actually, the strategies that were considered surefire paths to SEO domination were completely different from what they are today.
Interestingly enough, however, Google was saying the exact same things about how you should try and rank a website then as they are now: Provide detailed, relevant, helpful content, network naturally with others, and Google would notice.
Unfortunately, their desired reality just wasn’t the case for most marketers. Hitting the top of search results meant putting in the hours to create backlinks, make sure the anchor text of your links matched the phrases you wanted to rank for, etc. These practices were considered spammy by Google, but they worked… and so people kept right on doing them.
Now, however, Google has finally caught up with its own mantra, and since early 2014 those adhering to old school link building practices are probably walking away a little disappointed.
For Google, it’s a win.
For us marketers, it makes things more complicated, but it’s a win as well.
Right now, SEO is actually simpler than it has ever been, but it’s not easier. That is to say, there’s a lot of work involved, but the work you put in is more valuable to all parties involved now.
In fact, pages are ranking fairly easily for many website owners now, provided they do a great job of providing content. A key component now is Google’s paying attention to social media cues when determining how much of a buzz a page is creating, and therefore how many people find it interesting and useful.
Right now, you can create a page and be ranking on Google within a couple of hours, provided your piece catches social media fire and gets shared around.
Of course, that means you’ve got to come up with something really good. Honestly, though, this can only serve to elevate the level of content that gets produced, as webmasters will be able to spend more time focusing on creating really useful, interesting content for their sites instead of focusing on the post-care SEO of creating countless backlinks.
In order to win, then, you need to be onboard with this new thinking. In fact, if you’re still working within the old framework of SEO, you’re likely going to see more problems than benefits. Sites are constantly being penalized and thrown into the SERPs abyss because they have tried to game a system that has always been about staying one step ahead of those trying to game it (and a goal they’ve finally achieved).
Will SEO professionals still have specific strategies you can take to give your site a leg up?
Will they work? Probably, but you need to think of SEO best practices these days as a side dish, because there is no longer a substitute for the main dish of hard work creating genuinely awesome pages for Google to crawl.
It’s been recently discovered that Google has submitted a patent that should change the way linkbuilding is done in a drastic manner. We’ve all been aware of the linkbuilding penalties that Google has been handing out for the abuse and misuse of links, so it’s no surprise to see them taking action. In fact, this has been coming for a while, it’s just unclear how many people truly expected this kind of superb fix: implied links.
Under our current understanding of linkbuilding, ‘express links’ are the only types of links that are beneficial to a site’s ranking. An express link is your standard link that leads back to the webpage by embedding (or just plain pasting) the URL on a page. For example, http://www.Google.com is an express link. These are the links that are being used in negative SEO and link building schemes, as well as by honest internet marketers like you and me.
Enter the Implied Link
But now, Google is poised to swing the emphasis from express links to what are being called ‘implied links.’ Implied links do not actually have to include the URL to the website, they are simply implied by the mere mention of the website (or brand, product, service, etc.). This means that mentions and citations are going to be the next wave of linkbuilding, mostly because they are much harder to manipulate in order to score higher rankings in the SERPs.
This isn’t to say anything of nofollow links, we expect these to stay pretty heavy in the algorithm, but just to say that implied links are going to weigh a lot more than express links. Granted, this is mostly educated speculation right now, but the patent filed by Google certainly makes it clear that implied links are a real thing and will matter.
Reference Queries and Brand Mentions
But the changes aren’t stopping there. Not only does the Panda patent talk about express and implied links, but authority calculation will now also be affected reference queries. This is essentially a road map that starts with a very specific query that ends up in a very specific location. In other words, if 80% of all queries into “soda pop” end up on Coca Cola’s page and not Pepsi’s, Coca Cola will benefit from the reference query weight of “soda pop.”
This helps ensure that Google is directing searchers to the right pages by sending them to the places that others have found success. This determines popularity of the page by query entry, thus adding to the authority of the site. Basically, this is just another way to improve the visitor experience so keep focusing on making sure you are giving your audience exactly what they want. The better you answer their questions and meet their needs, the better your reference query scores will be.
As for brand mentions, this is just another term for implied links. They are also called mentions and if you want your brand to carry authority, you simply need other sites to talk about your brand and/or website. This is going to change the outlook on blogging since now you don’t really need anyone to place an express link in their blog, only talk about you as an authority or in some similar form.
If you currently are using Google’s free PageSpeed Service to speed up your web pages, you should probably start looking for another service now.
That’s because Google recently announced that it is cancelling its PageSpeed service, effective in August.
Google’s PageSpeed Service, which was first launched in 2010, uses tools to analyze and optimize websites in order to implement the best web performance practices. Fast and optimized pages lead to better visitor engagement, retention and conversions.
But Google is pulling plug on the service, although the free tools it offers will still be available on other open source platforms.
Google’s official announcement came May 5, although rumors of PageSpeed’s demise have been flying around tech message boards and have been hinted at in numerous tech blogs for the past several weeks.
August 3 Deadline
Web page owners using Google’s PageSpeed Service have until August 3 to make the necessary DNS changes to remove sites safely.
Google recommended that webmasters using the service login to the PageSpeed console and look at the list of their domains. Any domains that are labeled “Enabled” will be affected once the service shuts down for good.
If a web page’s DNS is not changed prior to the shutdown of PageSpeed, it will be completely unavailable. The console will offer advice if a webmaster tries to delete a live domain. If this change is not made by August 3, the site will break, Google warned.
On May 5, big pink banners began appearing on PageSpeed pages stating, “PageSpeed Service has been deprecated and will be turned down on 3rd August.” A link is provided that directs visitors to Google’s official announcement.
Options to PageSpeed
Google offered PageSpeed several options – some free and some paid — that they can switch to prior to the service’s being shut down.
Web masters are advised to check with their service provider to see if they offer provider hosted PageSpeed. In some instances, switching to this version could be as simple as checking a box in the provider’s control panel.
There also are PageSpeed modules available for many of the most common web servers. So web page owners who run their sites of their own server are advised to install one of these.
Google also has developed the open-source Apache module mod_pagespeed. There are currently two pre-built binary modules available: Apache 2.2 and Apache 2.4.
There’s also a plugin for Nginx that Google has developed. But this must be compiled from the source.
Other options include:
– IIS – WeAmp has a commercial port of PageSpeed to Microsoft IIS.
– Apache Traffic Server – WeAmp also has ported PageSpeed to the Apache Traffic server.
– OpenLite Speed – This platform supports a PageSpeed module that can be compiled and loaded into a webserver.
– Cloud-Based Alternatives – If webmasters prefer to use a cloud-based product, EdgeCast EdgeOptimizer integrates Google PageSpeed with its CDN offering. Or, many CNDS offer similar functionality that don’t use PageSpeed technology.
Why PageSpeed Mattered
PageSpeed was designed to allow web pages to load faster for users. It features a quick and easy setup and allowed users to keep up with the latest optimization technologies without having to constantly search for them online.
One of the biggest benefits was that it used Google’s existing fast and secure infrastructure, which won’t be available for web masters who switch to open source server modules. It was widely praised for creating happier users and better conversions.
While Google doesn’t explicitly explain why it has pulled the plug on this popular, helpful service, some tech bloggers speculate that CloudFare captured this market and Google may have decided to stop focusing on this type of service, at least for a year or two.