What's Changed About SEO?

The world of SEO has undergone a total transformation since its earlier days. Contrary to what many people believe, successful marketers need to create quality content targeted to real, human visitors instead of keyword-rich content targeted to search engines.

The good news is that SEO is evolving to encourage marketers to create the useful and remarkable content that our most qualified customers want most. The bad news is that most marketers haven't gotten the memo yet.

In case you're one of them, here's the basic rundown.

Your site needs to:

  • Feature quality content more than a quantity of keywords - No more keyword stuffing or cloaking. Take out the text boxes full of keywords at the bottom of your page and make your site titles authentic, clear, and descriptive. The content of each page should also be rich in actually useful, relevant information -- not just littered with the keywords you think search engines want to see. Blog posts should now weigh in at around 600 words each. 
     
  • Provide a clear site map and text links - Your website should be easy to navigate and simple for both users and search engines to understand. Think of your website like a file folder. You wouldn't file your tax returns in your pet's medical history folder, would you? Of course not. The same rule applies to the content of your website. Every page should be logically placed and reachable from at least one static text link on your website. 
     
  • Create a useful, information-rich site - Search engines want their users to find the information they need, not useless sites that are just stuffed with empty keywords. So be sure to write pages that accurately describe your content. Your <title> tags and ALT attributes must be descriptive, clear, and accurate. You should not be using a keyword simply to have it on your page. It's a habit a lot of marketers have yet to break.
     
  • Offer URLs that are user- and keyword-friendly - Use keywords to create descriptive, human-friendly URLs. Your keywords should feel authentic, not spammy, and should describe the page your visitor is on. For example, if I land on the "About" page of your website, the URL should not be "buy-sell-your-home-today.html." Search engines see this, compare it to the content on the page and give you a big, fat thumbs down.

So what does this all mean? How can you get in step with SEO as it is practiced in 2012? What do you need to do to freshen up your website?

Attend HubSpot's new three-part webinar series this October to get all the answers.

Mark your calendar for October 16, 23, and 30. Join HubSpot Academy for the all new SEO webinar series to find out why you need to change how you do SEO, how you should adjust your marketing to reflect the current state of the art, and how to build a better reputation online with rock solid inbound links.  

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Originally published Oct 2, 2012 11:30:00 AM, updated January 13 2014