The same question was asked even before the Florida update - and it's been asked almost like clockwork with every major Google shift since then. I'd say Panda may signal the end of what some people have called SEO, but not what others conceive SEO to be.
Here's an old post from our archives, in the year 2002. Is SEO evolving into full Project Management? [webmasterworld.com]
Derivative SEO - methods learned second or third hand and already passed their prime - were already dying by the time they were shared in public.
In the 90s there was a common saying that by the time something was openly communicated, it was already on its way out. Things aren't that extreme any more, but there's still a tinge of truth in it.
[edited by: tedster at 6:10 am (utc) on Oct 12, 2011]
SEO is moving towards another evolution but certainly not towards end...
How exactly do you define SEO? The definitions vary so much it would help if we can establish a baseline. :)
|Has Panda brought an end to SEO? |
Not exactly, but it has broaded it and made it more challenging. Panda has raised the bar and added opportunities for other layers of optimization based on engagement, social, and quality signals, which will inevitably evolve over time. It has not yet eliminated traditional SEO for those who already were paying attention to quality, but, as understanding of the possibilities spreads, it will shift everybody's game.
In the near term, particularly in less competitive areas, I suspect that for sites that satisfy certain minimum thresholds, traditional optimization and relevance signals will be around for a while. In more competitive areas, the added factors will necessarily come into play, and the rate of change will most likely be accelerated by competition.
I see creativity becoming a larger part of the optimization process. What you will be able to do, onsite and off, to promote awareness and visitor engagement, will become much more open to your imagination... and also a larger part of the challenge.
|sites offering SEO have been tanked. So what exactly are they teaching if they can't keep their house in order? |
Google controls the flow so any site can tank if Google targets their niche. Those beating their chests are fools.
Is SEO dead? Depends on what niche you are in, in some you may need to learn about PPC in addition to regular SEO.
Let's not assume that things will stay this way for ever or that Google will always control 70% or act in Panda fashion all the time. The last Panda, for example, was reversed as far as I can tell and most likely because of complaints from famous sites. Other sites are much more numerous but make less noise and it's easier to dismiss them as 'low quality.' For how long, it remains to be seen. One NYT article and Panda is gone ;). There's no hard data that shows do a 'Panda or have a search index full of spammy sites.' Bing already discriminates by not indexing the 'bad' pages at all and then by using long click to reward /demote individual pages. So they are many ways.
If SEO is meant to be "game Google" then yes, things have changed. The Google does not like it. If SEO means "getting everything right FOR THAT PAGE/SITE" then nothing has changed.
Personal opinion "YOU" is what you want to do: YOUR USER OPTIMIZED. Made that decision back in 1999 and have not "failed" since.
I look at the percents from each source and max those. G might be bigger, but B is AS IMPORTANT and for a time ASK and YAHOO. And those percents maintained because sites were optimized for the USER, not a search engine. YMMV.
SEO is alive and well. It just looks more like marketing than it used to.
The only thing that will end SEO is when search engines wise up and stop sending traffic to other sites.
I think that SEO after Panda needs to get far more sophisticated.
I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the symptoms that we describe of what has happened to SERPS since Panda, and its various iterations, is due to Semantic Vector Analysis overlaid with a further rules based analysis. Many of the errors and false positives are caused by errors in UK English vs US English that were also present post Florida and in the weighting of words within search terms, including brand names.
If someone could provide me with a tool that would predict the Google semantic vector of my site vs my competitors and allow me to tweak my site to move the vector past my competitor's vectors then I would willingly pay good money for it. Since this is an impossible dream SEOs need to find a series of actions that they can take on websites and pages that will eventually result in an improvement in rankings. I'm convinced that there will be some things that can be done that will feed the Panda in a way that will make it give you more positive results than might be expected. What we need to do is to observe what things appear to have worked in our own niches by identifying the features of pages and sites that have been given a boost by Panda and replicate those things.
SEO after Panda is going to be much, much harder but oh so much more valuable if you can crack it.
Low grade "SEO" services of just fixing whats already their, and artificially creating some back links with "anchor text" aimed at raising the rankings for a few key terms is not a business model thats going to do very well going forward.
"It's better to burn out than to fade away."
I think SEO died horribly recently. There are some important things to do right from the start such as optimizing templates and planning internal link structures but once Google's gotten a sniff they mark your site and there's not much you can do change that.
~ You can add 10,000 AWESOME pages and search traffic will not raise much until Panda rolls out again.
~ You can get loads of solid backlinks and yet until Panda runs again see no additional traffic.
~ You can make massive changes to your site and only hurt it's rankings, not help them, until Panda rolls again.
When Panda says you're set, you're set at whatever traffic level you currently have until a new iteration rolls out... then hold on for the sudden spike or drop.
I don't like it, not one bit, as it's not a good way to ensure quality websites get their due traffic.
Google has gotten it wrong.
And that's if everything goes perfectly and if Panda works as advertised. Panda can run in 3 weeks or 7 weeks or be pulled a few days later if the 'wrong' sites are hit.
Both SEO and independent web work are on the hit list, maybe we should do a "Occupy GooglePlex" movement ;). But I don't think "Google has gotten it wrong," maybe they have miscalculated the reaction, but that's different from getting it wrong.
Well, they claim to have made 500 changes last year, that could be construed as having gotten it wrong 499 times?
Regardless, they're admitting mistakes on their own blog where many are complaining. Sites they don't think should have been downgraded were in fact downgraded (their own words).
Google may fix the most obvious sites manually but they surely will not fix(or even hear from) them all, do you own one of those? I think "gotten it wrong" is quite accurate right now.
I think they did it on purpose so IMO they didn't get it wrong.
I definitely wouldn't say that SEO is a dinosaur or 'gone'. It is very much alive. Nobody knows exactly what Panda targets, but it seems to have been some kind of anti-spam algorithm with the dial turned to the max. With that said, it seems that more primitive spamming techniques are now back 'in' to an albeit small, but effective degree. As things seem to change each day, nobody except for huge names seem to be on the top of any particular search result.
What Google has become is truly mind-boggling.
I think this community really signifies that many of the wrong people that were hit, if I understand it correctly. If you're looking for "Turquoise Widget Thingamajigs" and you're the only person in the world that has any information (and/or sells this product), and you're on page 6 post-panda and #1 pre-panda, there are really some questions to be asked. Like how does a site that simply copied your content and/or rewrote it, has no relevant backlinks and really did nothing special SEO-wise, rank #1-10?
In my own experiment with a domain I purchased a few years ago, I basically used some blackhat software to scrape my own content and repost it. From there I used some of my own techniques with PHP to make the content seem different to a computer. The result: My own scrapings were ranking above the original source and still do to this day. Every Panda iteration sees traffic jump or drop, but I still get traffic to this site.
There used to be rules and order. Now it seems that SERPs are jumping up and down every few weeks without any real reason or cause. The Google Panda machine is losing steam and it seems that some backpeddling is in order.
But no, SEO doesn't seem to be dead. It just seems that WebmasterWorld and Google webmaster guidelines might not be the best source of information anymore.
|Now it seems that SERPs are jumping up and down every few weeks without any real reason or cause. |
My rankings are stable, perhaps a mild increase recently. But I think that may be because of a couple of links I obtained, not panda.
i believe i am not alone.
Look at these forums lately and you have your answer. A bunch of experts running around like chickens with their heads cut off says to me yeah, SEO has no meaning. SEO services? You kidding me? Sure, you have the answers to Panda. SEO now is more about how to moving on, changing goals, changing outlooks, changing revenue forecasts. It's certainly not about smart page titles or trying to use SEO to clearly explain what your site and pages is about. SEO regarding Google is more about planning for drying up organic traffic. The end of SEO services? If you can't find the hole in a leaking boat, guess what? If you can't bring the traffic then obviously it's not SEO services. Perhaps SEO is now brand building. Hope you brought your cheque book with you. SEO was the patch to a leaky boat. I don't see a patch regarding Google SEO today. Panda knows you better than you know yourself. Why SEO when they can figure out what you are better than you can explain it via page titles, descriptions, etc? SEO was about waving a flag to Google saying this is what I'm about. Wave it all you want. Shake it in their face. Guess what? It's not about you anymore. It's about those "other guys" now for which you cannot compete in a lot of niches.
As long as there are websites and search engines there will always be SEO. SEO is the art of putting a website in the best possible position to thrive in the search engines. SEO can be as simple as making an accurate title tag to publishing and marketing an article on your site.
SEO will always exist but the methods will not always be the same. Search engines change therefore SEO practices must change. It is important to be up to date with the most recent SE changes but there will always be a standard set of rules to follow when building any website. Sometimes people in the SEO industry focus on SEO too much and not on the actual quality of the website for its visitors.
It has become hard since Panda, one day you are ranking next day you are out of the listing and nothing makes sense. Have to wait and see how far this goes may be Panda will learn how to identify good from bad.
|My rankings are stable, perhaps a mild increase recently. But I think that may be because of a couple of links I obtained, not panda. |
i believe i am not alone.
My traffic has increased 20% since the first Panda rolled out. And I am a small time business with very little branding, almost NO social activity, and nothing "spectacular" about our site.
I would also echo the suggestion that backlink acquisition has helped in boosting rankings (as well as direct traffic).
I never had so many enquiries doing SEO work than since the Panda update.
In my opinion SEO is more relevant than ever, because for me coming up with an integrated billboard/website campaign that ties in Facebook is just as much part of SEO than having the meta tags in order and get the links in.
You can have the greatest content, the best brand the coolest campaign, if you dont let your visitors find it, share it and most of all let them do what you want them to do as easy as possible, all is pretty much pointless...
For some searches SEO has died. Even if you get #1 rank, your still pushed down below the fold near the bottom of the page. So in this sense, absolutely. It does very little good in some cases to achieve top 5 rankings. This is clearly by design as we have seen a gradual move to push organic searches off page 1.
The worse results google delivers, the more adwords revenues increase, as these will be the only relevant results. I just ran a query and the #1 result is a page full of viri and exploits. this is for a product keyword. "User experience," yeah right google!
I would love to post the keyword here. Mods let me know if it would be allowed. The serps a real joke these days.
|I would love to post the keyword here. Mods let me know if it would be allowed. |
We only rarely allow that, and not for examples of bad SERPs. Examples of bad and good SERPs would both make an infinite collection.
If anyone feels they have a unusually valuable example to share, they can send a sticky mail to any of the moderators with the information.
|The serps a real joke these days. |
I just had an experience that surprised me in the other direction. Early last week I was researching a particular product in alternative health care and the SERP was extremely low quality, such as we've all seen.
Then yesterday, the same search term showed NONE of the sites that had been there earlier in the week. Instead there were useful and informative pages in a nice mix of informational and transactional pages. I was astonished at such a change - this is a trademarked brand with only about 4,000 results, so far down the long tail that a manual action is out of the question I think. So something changed algorithmically during the week that made a positive difference.
The most important part of SEO is Ranking.
Today - number 1 rankings often place you near the bottom of the screen.
Therefore the most important part of SEO is almost DEAD.
Without ranking - any other factor of SEO is drivel spit.
|I see creativity becoming a larger part of the optimization process. |
I agree. We need to create unique web pages on topics not already covered and write about them in ways others have not written.
|Then yesterday, the same search term showed NONE of the sites that had been there earlier in the week. Instead there were useful and informative pages in a nice mix of informational and transactional pages. I was astonished at such a change - this is a trademarked brand with only about 4,000 results, so far down the long tail that a manual action is out of the question I think. So something changed algorithmically during the week that made a positive difference. |
This is something I think about quite a bit, they do in fact have the ability to display a much higher quality version than they generally do. What you typically see is not the best they can do.
So the question is why? (I am a firm believer in the total division between paid and organic so I discount that)
Anti spam - the better version allows more loop holes? - something to do with infrastructure limitations? The better results cant be updated as often - not as fresh?
There is a reason, just don't know what it is. It's to bad though, every now and then you see something so superior, and then you realize they can do it.