Modern Search: Is it Digital Littering?

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In this new age of Social Media consideration, geographical personalization and web history metrics all climbing their way up the importance ladder in search engine algorithms internet users are presented with a much more personalized and relevant search experience. Out with the days of keyword-stuffing webmasters with aged url’s dominating the top of search results. In with the days of your site being on top because you have the most similarities in social media circles, are just down the road from the searcher and have a similar site to websites a user has visited before.

Old School SEO

The old rules of thumb to get a website to the top of the search engines would be to maximize on-page seo and accrue the quantity of authoritative in-bound links. If you covered your bases with keyword rich and relevant content, a properly structured website and had amassed the right kind of links from high page ranking sources you could guarantee that Jim and Sally would both see your website as #1 for a particular keyword. It’s now much different than that. That top spot and the order of the pages listed on a search engine results page can and will vary from user to user depending on many more personalized variables. From an end user point of view the logic in this is beautiful. Your search results are tailored to YOU and your history of internet usage.

This has become somewhat maddening for webmasters though. Any webmaster who states that they can guarantee a #1 spot for a particular search term is completely full of shit or not yet educated on these findings. It’s impossible as each users search results are becoming more and more personalized to them. Even the practice of keyword monitoring needs to be scrutinized. This makes it tricky to prove the value of search engine optimization work. I picture webmasters world wide shaking in their shorts wondering how they can justify their price tags now without being able to honestly say that they got a site to rank 4 for EVERYONE with a particular key-phrase.

Spreading your Digital Footprint

I still believe in all of the best practices for search engine optimization. I still believe in building back links. These all still matter. There are just more things now to consider when trying to grow your search engine presence. You need to blog. You have to make a Facebook fan page. It’s necessary to Tweet, to make videos for YouTube, put your images on Flicker, create slides for SlideShare….on and on (#yawn).

Whats happening now is this. Someone makes a new web page. They will then go blog about it, post it to their Facebook page, Tweet back to the blog post, put up some images on Flicker about it and make a quick video for YouTube about it. Basically taking that one piece of content and spreading it out to as many of the social media channels as possible.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this practice. In fact someone really standing behind a new product, service or post that they’ve created and wanting to promote it in this way makes total sense. It’s not an exorbitantly priced TV commercial, a no-metrics-possible direct mail piece or a radio spot that people tend to not be patient through anyway. It’s all free (except for time of course) and will more effectively reach your target audience than the old school way of marketing.

The Social Gray Hat

Unfortunately, just like the days of keyword stuffing, people are sometimes taking a less than honest approach to harnessing this technique. They will write complete crap quickly then auto-magically spread their digital mess everywhere. Rinse and repeat. This is digital littering in my opinion. It’s still better if you want to create a buzz or get some attention with social media to….dun dun dun…have something that people would actually like!

A good rule of thumb in my opinion is if you have to spend more time spreading your word across all these channels than it would take to produce another piece of equally important content then you should examine carefully how you should spend your time. Market your one piece of content EVERYWHERE or have two equally worthy pieces to spread about selectively.

Have any experience side stepping digital litter? Or any questions or comments about modern search engine optimization practices? Ask the Los Angeles SEO Company, or leave a comment below!