If you are into search engine optimisation
then no doubt you will be aware of the furore created by Google's Penguin update. You've probably seen the articles sprouting up around the Internet that SEO is now, or very soon to be, dead, and that 'content marketing' is the way forward.
Well, to us it doesn't seem so clear cut. Certainly Google has once again moved the bar, but for them that is normal. After all, they tweak their ranking algorithm a little bit every day, and in a more major way weekly/monthly.
With Penguin they have made some significant changes, however for the majority of the changes they are really just moving the bar in the same direction they had already been going. Freshness of content for example, has been around for some time. They've just made it a little more important. Offsite content and its freshness, well that was already there too, just made relatively a little more important again. Quality of website construction and the correct use of tags such as heading tags, again, there before, and most expert SEO specialists like ours at Freetimers know this and would be considering it already. Social media and the how trusted an author is, that is a bit new, but isn't it just an extension of Google's assessment of the trusted/authority status of links? Seems to me it is the same principle.
And what about links? Google has tightened up a bit certainly, and they are looking more at links embedded in content now, rather than standing on their own, but otherwise has link popularity really changed? Google's push to forceably segment markets may also now be trying to do that with the geographical locations of linking sites, but otherwise it still looks like the fundamentals of link popularity are still intact. Indeed, I read an article in the last month or so by the person responsible for the Penguin update at Google, and interestingly he pointed out that the Penguin changes are mapped on top of the main link/PR algorithm. So, whilst links may be less important overall, they are still of vital importance. In fact his statement just confirmed what we had already worked out.
Also, it is important to look at what a website's competition is doing. Clearly, if they were your competitor before Penguin, their ranking positions on Google would have been based upon Google's algorithm at the time. Unless they had suddenly started doing a lot of content marketing, etc., they would have been affected by Penguin just like your site. This is why most of the relative rankings between competitors didn't change that much, because everyone was similarly affected.
But now in this post-penguin world, what does one do? Well, as before, do a little bit more in each area than your competitor, or, do what you already do better. The optimum is to do both of course. So Penguin means if your competition are starting to do much more social media, and otherwise you have been ranking equally with them, then it looks like you will need to do it too, or do it less, but better! If however none of your competitors are doing social media, if you do it it will give you an edge, at least until they see you are doing it and try to catch up!
So, has the world post Penguin suddenly changed beyond all recognition? Is SEO dead or dying? The answer would seem to be NO, on both counts!