Now that we’ve thrown 2011 out the window, it’s time to turn our eyes toward the New Year. Each time we change the calendar, it’s always a good idea to sit back and take stock of where you’ve been—and where you can go from here. The same is true if you’re an eCommerce store owner. It holds even more water if you’re interested in the SEO side of your Internet Marketing efforts. After all, SEO is an ever-changing thing. It’s not an exact science—there’s a lot of trial and error involved. But if you know where SEO has been and where it stands now as we enter 2012, you’ll be better prepared to understand how it can help your eCommerce store shine in the New Year.
Blast from the Past
Way back in 2004, SEO was a different monster than it is today. Now you might not think that 2004 was all that long ago—in fact, some of you might be reminiscing about how great life was in 2004. (I’d question your sanity if you thought that.) But when you’re talking about Internet Years, you have to think like dog years. Eight years is a long time in cyber-world. (Think about it. YouTube didn’t exist until 2005. And how could we live without YouTube now?) In those early days, SEO often got lumped in with IT. That’s because it seemed more like a technology thing and less like a marketing thing.
Back then, SEO was truly singular in purpose. Its only goal was to get a site to rank as high as possible for a particular keyword. And that’s all it was.
When you talk about SEO in 2012, there’s so much more to it. We use SEO to help build brand recognition, to build and maintain online reputation, to create a community of brand advocates for your eCommerce store, and to help find targeted customers.
How did SEO Work? How is it Different Now?
Do you remember when you could go out and get your fill of paid links with spammy anchor text? Oh, if only it were still that easy. These days, you’re much (much, much, much) better off avoiding directory submissions. Back in the early days, the quantity of links you had was more important than quality. But as we enter 2012, good SEO links are a lot like friends—you want quality connections that you can depend on. Spammy links of old are like those people that pretend to be friends with everyone. Can you really count on them to be there for you when you need them?
One of your resolutions for 2012 should be to build a quality link portfolio that you can trust—and that can trust you back.
Search Engines of Yore
It’s a running joke here in the SEO department that we’re going to dress up as defunct search engines for Halloween. (One year we will do it.) But have you ever really sat back and thought about how many search engines have essentially fallen by the wayside? AOL used to be the internet. Now? Seriously. Who uses AOL as their primary search engine? DogPile, AskJeeves, InfoSeek, AltaVista… All in the past. It’s hard to even imagine a time when Google was just one of many search engines. Heck, these days we’ve turned “Google” into a verb.
“Who was the lead singer of Whitesnake?” “Hang on. Let me Google it.”
Social Media Changed the way we SEO (if Google can be a verb, so can SEO)
Think back to 2004. Did you have a Facebook profile for yourself? No. So you definitely didn’t have one for your business, either. There was no Twitter or LinkedIn, either. Social networking was just a baby then. If you wanted to get a message to a friend, you sent them an email, an instant message, or (heaven forbid) you called them (on a landline). These days, our smart phones might as well be extensions of our fingers. We Tweet, post, share, Like, bookmark, and follow all with the flick of a finger. This rapid-fire sharing of information has changed the way SEO works.
Search engines have begun incorporating data from social networking sites into their algorithms. The information that people share between one another can actually impact general search results.
But there’s more to social media than the fact that it affects general search. It all goes back to that trust building thing. Your online reputation matters. So build a great social presence for your eCommerce store, and watch the chatter begin.
Where is SEO in 2012?
Is SEO dead? No. But is SEO the same as it was when it first started? Also no.
SEO is all about change. I often say that SEO is a big, fat gray area—there’s no black and white. And that’s a good thing. If I’ve learned anything about SEO in my time as an SEO Manager here at Solid Cactus (and, rest assured, I have), it’s that a good SEO Manager needs to keep making adjustments. We have to adjust to the way search engines work, the way consumers behave from month-to-month, and the ever-evolving landscape of social media.
SEO is a lot like rock ‘n roll. Rock ‘roll will never die—and neither will SEO.