A Look at the State of SEO in 2020

I've been involved in search engine optimization since the early 2000s. Many say that SEO has changed a lot since then, but I tend to disagree. Yes, in terms of grey and black hat SEO, things have changed considerably over the years. White hat? It's the same as it ever was.

Links, or as I like to call them...citations
It's always been the case of quality over quantity with links. Google's blueprint since its launch in 1998 was to see links as citations - signals of trust. The more Google trusts your site, the more likely it's to rank your site higher. Through the early 2000s right up until April 2012, SEO for many marketers became a mechanical operation - links from all kinds of sources seemed to work. Links could not punish your site, so marketers experimented with all kinds of link sources, and software to help automate the process. Bear in mind, I'm talking about grey to blackhat methods here. Then along came Penguin in April 2012, and it changed SEO overnight. Suddenly, inbound links could potentially hurt your site. The word "disavow" entered the marketer's lexicon. Marketers started re-reading (or reading for the first time) Google's guidelines. Finally - with Penguin - Google had slammed down the hammer on mass link building.

So what's changed from a white hat perspective? Honestly, not much. Links from established niche directories are quality citations. They demand a human review, and low quality sites will not be included in such curated lists. Google favours these niche directories that act as human-powered "filters". Of course, not all directrories are the same. 99% are low quality. You just need a discerning eye to find a quality directory for your website. Other citations you can gain include links from industry-related press websites. Again, they will have their own quality control when it comes to who they cite. Outreach of this kind is natural and Google haven't been unnecessarily punitive to these kinds of links.

Having said all of that, remember that links CAN hurt your site. You need to keep an eye on your website's link profile. After all, anyone can link to you, right? This is where Disavowl needs to be deployed if you find yourself the victim of a 3rd party pointing a lot of low quality, toxic links to your site. However, IF you site already has some high quality, authoritative links, this will be less of an issue. Google's more likely to simply ignore the low quality links in that case.

Content sits at the throne of the digital marketing hierarchy. It is the reason people visit your website. Google want to deliver the best content to their searchers. High quality content will lower your bounce rate (a great signal for Google), and will help you win citations naturally. Keep your website updated regularly - this is a great sign to Google that your website is active. Of course, ensure your content is unique. Remember also that your website is not a brochure. It's something a lot more informal than that. Write in a style that is immediate and gets to the point. Visitors are scanning for informtation - give them what they want, fast. You need to hook them in with summaries at the top of the page. Once they're hooked, you can go into as much detail as possible further down the page. Always give each page a "TL;DR" summary at the top.

The same as it ever was
In conclusion, SEO's brief history has shown that some things never change. People still want a quality service or product. They want to read a well written article. Google want quality citations. These are the constants of SEO that we should all focus on.

Article kindly provided by clevelandseoguy.com

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