In simple terms there have always been two elements to SEO. Number one is ensuring that the search engines can understand the content on the website and the kind of keyword that you’re trying to target and number two that the search engines view your brand, your website domain, as being more authoritative and more trustworthy than that of the competition. They have always been the two aspects of SEO and that continues to be the case today.

Looking at the second element of that there’s the trust, the authority. The way in which that’s established has now become far more complex than it used to be so for a long time it essentially just came down to the sheer quantity of links you could get pointing to your website and consequently people engaging all sorts of sketchy and unethical tactics in order to acquire those sheer numbers. Now the nature of SEO has changed significantly but while it has become vastly more complex, link acquisition in my opinion continues to be the number one factor in determining
website Authority so it’s absolutely not gone away, it’s just that the way in which it has to happen has evolved. It’s grown up somewhat so now it’s it’s absolutely imperative that any link that you solicit is done so in a legitimate fashion which just means that the way in which we have to go about it is very different, so legitimate press releases talking about real things with really interesting stats and thinking in a in more of a traditional journalistic fashion – that’s become a really powerful link acquisition mechanism. Likewise engaging with influencers and using those relationships to acquire links from websites blogs within your target market again is really powerful.

So link acquisition hasn’t gone away, it’s still super important it’s just that it has to be thought about far more strategically and in a far more brand orientated way now other elements that have played started to play an increasing role in recent years including engagement on the website which is quite difficult to define in a really clear way because what constitutes good engagement in one market could be quite different in another, so for example in some markets you don’t necessarily want people spending hours on your website – you want them to come in perform a particular action and if they go again that’s absolutely fine where as in other markets the time on site, the pageviews, the bounce rate – these things are really really important, so when you think about engagement stats I’d encourage you to think about it within the context of your industry. I’s quite similar with social media so there’s been a debate over the role of social media for a long time in the SEO community and while a lot of people would contest the direct causal link between social media and rankings I think most people generally see now the strong correlation between the two, particularly if you operate in a market where community is important and really building engagement between your audience and your brand is important, in which case if you’re not active, if you don’t have a clear social media strategy then that’s a huge huge hole in that overall SEO strategy.

The final thing I want to talk about is the broader brand signals and for me this is the most important thing to take away from this. If you think about it from Google’s perspective, if their goal is to determine the most trust trustworthy, incredible brands then if it were me I don’t think there would be anything more important than the sheer number of people going to a website. Not by the search engines but just going directly, or going to the search engines and making brand related search queries. For example, if 10,000 people a day search for John Lewis TVs well then I think you can probably assume that John Lewis is a trusted source for televisions. So it’s difficult in one sense to directly impact and probably doesn’t sound like SEO but SEO in isolation just isn’t really a thing anymore. It has to be part of a broader brand strategy. You have to be doing real things and adding real value to your audience, and building an ever-larger presence amongst that audience, and if you do that there to some extent that SEO will take care of itself.