If quality content is now the best route to the top of a Google search, has the dark art of SEO been relegated to the footnotes of digital marketing history? Yes and, er, no.
While black hat SEO, such as stuffing your webpages full of keywords, may be as old hat as a Frank Spencer beret, the type of good SEO techniques favoured by Google’s Hummingbird update are the signposts search engines need to direct users to your engaging videos, infographics, blogs and other shareable content.
This isn’t just my opinion. A similar view was put forward last week at MozCon 2014 when Moz founder Rand Fishkin said: “SEO is no longer a job separate from the other functions of online marketing. Increasingly SEO is part of a more holistic approach to online marketing.”
But before HR managers at Fortune 500 companies rewrite the job descriptions of their SEO strategists to incorporate all aspects of digital marketing, I came across a little-recognised threat to content marketing as a route to the top of Google’s rankings.
One of my roles here at Southerly is to write content for the BizCrowd website. This part of my job allows me to make contact with a range of SME owners. The other week, I had the pleasure of sampling some beautiful craft ales produced by the Tudor Brewery in South Wales, and last week I had a thought-provoking conversation with entrepreneur Lorenzo Tejada-Orrell.
Lorenzo and business partner Tom Bearshaw have recently established the Torenz Group, which in addition to helping start-ups reach their full potential also owns a sizeable portfolio of online real estate.
As Lorenzo explained to me, in recent years there has been an expansion in the number and type of domain names that websites are allowed to use. Instead of the usual suspects like .com and .co.uk, internet service providers are now allowing companies to use the likes of .app, .download and .ticket.
Lorenzo and Tom have bought a couple of thousand of these new domain names and own the likes of movies.download, freemusic.download, creditscores.online.
So what? You may ask. Well, these are all keywords that internet users input into search engines and by turning search terms into your website address a company can not only jump to the top of Google’s rankings, it bypasses the need to fill a site with engaging content.
In other words, it’s SEO Jim, but not as we know it!
I predict that these 20-somethings are going to make a packet from leasing out their online assets. Not only that, their business plan leaves me thinking that it could have been me.
No, really! It could have been me. I grew up not too far from Wigan where Lorenzo lives and Tom’s career started as a junior correspondent at the Rochdale Observer in 2010. Back in 1994 when I, too, was in my early 20s, I sacrificed going to the Good Friday fixture between St Helens and Wigan rugby league clubs to attend an interview to become the Rochdale Observer’s junior sports reporter.
I didn’t land the role, but before I order a crate of Tudor Brewery’s delicious Sugarloaf real ale from its managing director Jaime Devine to drown my sorrows and to mourn the death of original content as a means of climbing the Google rankings, I want to concur with Rand Fishkin.
There are only a limited number of internet addresses that match the search terms users are inputting into Google. Therefore, content remains king. And engaging, sharable videos, infographics and blogs will need to play a key role in every business’s marketing strategy for many years to come.