SEO, to me, is dead. Now understand I never really was a huge proponent of off-page SEO in the first place, I just don’t care about it one bit anymore. And when I say SEO, I don’t mean:
1. The profession as a whole
2. On-page/site SEO
3. Developing linking via relationships and social media
Why have I given up on off-page SEO?
- Because the rules change too often for a proper business to worry about it.
- The effort to manage it for an actual small business owner has gotten too out of control
- It isn’t that important anymore
Let’s break this down shale we
The rules change too often
Let’s say Bob Jacomoni’s Plumbing spent years building links to his site, or just putting out great content that other sites linked to. Google told him that was great and not to worry about the links from bad neighborhoods, they knew it wasn’t his fault and keep on keeping’ on.
Now Google is telling Bob that if he doesn’t clean up his links (Panda, Penguin) that he will see a massive drop in search engine rankings.
But Bob is too busy unclogging Mrs. Jones toilet to pay attention until one day all the happy organic traffic Bob used to get is gone…and so is his business because he relied too heavily on organic search to grow his business.
This is just one particular item that Google has changed it’s mind on, and in efforts to keep this post short enough for you to grind through it, I used linking as my lead-off hitter, but there’s more!
Now let’s talk about the effort
Off-page SEO is a full-time job. It’s not something you can start then stop. You have to constantly care and feed that beast if you want to stay on top. The reason again is the changes. But contractors don’t have the time to stay up to date on all the things that need to be done to keep their off-page SEO house in order, so they find themselves again, losing traffic.
Lastly, it isn’t that important
Of the three items I list, this one will be the most controversial because many of you still get plenty of organic traffic. But here’s where the wheels come off that wagon.
Search is losing steam because the way to go about getting at our information is changing. It used to be that Google WAS the destination. Now people are STARTING with sites like Facebook (which has a search component built in) or Twitter (which acts as real-time news delivery to begin with) to find out what is going on, to ask questions and to get their news for the day. So while Google still rules the roost when it comes to search, we are searching less as a whole as information is pushed to us.
Understand, when I say searching less, there are still hundreds of billions of searches a month, but there is a change afoot. How we get at our information isn’t the same as it was just a few years ago.
Social media is taking on more of the responsibility of search in terms of prospect A asking past-client B for a recommendation for project C.
You see, Google, by it’s very nature, is turning into the old Yellow Pages by being just a “directory” of listings. There are no reviews per se, there are no citations or validations or recommendations like you get from social. Sure Google puts in the effort, but for the most part, it’s only been about the search result.
And one final nail in the coffin, the effort…
The effort put in to maintaining position on a page via SEO is a fool’s errand because all the work you do will be labeled as either obsolete or worse, illegal in terms of search at some point in the future.
Meantime, spend that same time building a network or community via social media and people will eventually beat a path to your door for your efforts.
Because putting in the effort with social will yield actual relationships that you can grow and nurture offline while worrying about a 1st place listing will only make you a target to other companies, keeping you on that hamster wheel forever!
And that’s why, I think, social trumps search! What do you think? Give me your opinion in the comments below.
Photo Credit: brunoronner
19 responses to “Why Social Media Will Beat Search or Why Google Can Kiss Your Ass!”
I agree, social done right will not only build community and relationships, but help in search by having more fresh content. What Social Media platforms would you suggest?
Hey Chris…well, Facebook, Twitter, Google+…then pick and image-based platform…Pinterest or houzz. But point is, be active!
I know nothing about SEO, but still come up as no. 2 on my local Google search. This gets me 3-4 enquiries a week which is actually too much as I’m so busy with work gained primarily through social media! I totally agree that people prefer recommendations, and as such will ask on social media “anyone know a good decorator in Stratford upon Avon”. It works.
Hi Darren, I agree to a point. Yes, social is where marketers/contractor should spend most their time for the reasons you outlined above, but good SEO is still important. I see websites showing more and higher in search than social sites unless it’s G+. On page SEO, fresh content, relevant backlinking (business listings and commenting on relevant blogs) still proves out in search. Lots of folks, specially older homeowners are still not super active on social and still use search in their buying decisions. Yes, there is a shift happening but its too soon to relax or abandon good SEO effort.
Hey Barb, thanks for stopping by and commenting. What you say is absolutely true. But here is the x factor. I am going to assume you sit in front of a monitor all day like me, therefore, we can do whatever we feel is needed to move our businesses forward. Contractors don’t have that luxury. They can’t putz around with what works this week and might not work next week. These are proper businesses they are running. It would be like advertising in the Yellow Pages, buying a double truck, then have the YP say, we are going to move you to a business card size ad because we don’t like you using green text. Who would put up with that? And I think on page SEO is very important, I don’t think chasing the tail of off-page SEO is worth it…not when I can go buy a click and be done with it.
Thought provoking Darren. Not sure we are quite at that point yet, to throw the baby out with the bath water. The game still has a long way to roll before we get to the top of the Google search curve, at least here.
Social media has many merits, I love twitter especially, but for business, social media is still at Wild West stage, more of a feeling – it is right for brand awareness but if you ask a client the question, where did you find us, and you are big on social media, the answer should be “everywhere” and then you are in the Peter lever territory of advertising, where 75% works, but which 75%. What works on social media?
I do see the shift in social that you talk about, and we will crank our iinvolvement up over time, but in our demographic, Google is still massive, and most clients really are still at the “we found you on Google” stage. Lest we forget, we are starting from such a low base of internet savviness, there are plenty of legs left in Google, it did take Yellow pages a looong time to die.
Hey Andy…thanks for stopping by and commenting! I don’t disagree with any point you make. BUT…you haven’t seen a drop in traffic for your efforts, so to you, it is still viable. Imagine all the effort you put in to TP and to find one day it stopped ranking? That is the nightmare scenario I am painting here. They can’t take the relationships away from you…they can take your rankings. Plus…I can get right back on page one as a contractor via PPC, so I have two tools working instead of maybe one…PPC and social instead of just focusing on SEO.
I didnt see your last response to Barb. The same vulnerability exists with social media platforms too, how many times have FaceBook caused near riots with their changes and tweaks. MySpace who? It wont be Google who? for a while, as you say, but it may be 5 results per page and only entries who are on G+ Then again, maybe that will be their interim experiment before reverting to a pretty cool system of search that can bring up useful info in a trice.
Social or convential, no matter what the pros and cons, it is down to how well something is executed whether it is a good way to go about business.
Directories per se arent bad ways of listing info, they have just been full of poor and biased untrusted info. Asking for recommendations from people you know, in theory is how people like to find out who to call, but many a train wreck has been caused by people who dont know what to look for, recommending the roofing guy for no reason other than he was such a nice man, and charged what he promised. Another roofer looked at the work and said however “nice and honest” he is, this guy couldn’t lay a tile to save his life.
Didnt see your other response either! I agree with what you are saying, absolutely I wouldnt be happy to be wiped out after doing what seems to be the right way of using the internet.
Would Google or the public really buy into the idea that only info shared in social media conversations is relevant? Surely social media needs something to talk about, so you have endless chat shows based on news stories, or discussions on books. A stream of core useful info has to prevail, so maybe content that Google currently depends on is going to get even more valuable as a conversation starter onall platforms!
Google is becoming the Yellow Pages. What I mean by that is they have done terrible at reviews, terrible at mapping, terrible at most things small businesses care about other than listings on a page. Which is being used by less and less people. And I see one flaw in this statement you made:
You can execute off page SEO flawlessly and then one day what you did the day before now hurts you. Listen, they make chocolate and vanilla for a reason, and at the end of the day, this is more for those who have been stung by Google over the last month or so, because they KNOW the pain of putting in years worth of effort only to see it washed away and they are looking for another solution. There are plenty of ways to spread the message…it just doesn’t have to be Google. The streets are filled with washed out businesses that relied too heavily on the loving hand of organic results only to be washed away with the lat tide.
Is feeding FB, G+, Twitter etc any more secure an option than feeding Google. They are still private companies that may get bought out at any time, told to change their policies, or decide to charge businesses for partaking – or maybe they will get unpopular like MySpace, or a flaw in the social media model busts them all wide open.
And an asteroid might hit the Earth tomorrow. My point is, Google is providing diminishing returns for the effort while social is just getting warmed up. You still have to market your business. Social (and when you say social, you mean multiple platforms who all aren’t going to pivot at once) doesn’t care about algo’s or keywords (mostly), the return you get from social is strictly a result you get from what you put out, it’s agnostic. It is crowd-sourced traffic because real people either vote you up, or vote you down…not an algorithm. When you rest your business’ survival to an algo, the machines have won. One day organic traffic will dry up for TP and you will NEED to find another solution…trouble is, you can’t build a social community overnight…it takes a VERY long time to build a tribe.
I thought that said “Android might hit the earth”!
I dont disagree with your viewpoint of where things are heading, and having feet in social media platforms now and feeding those beasts is essential.
It seems we have a different view though on the speed and depth of the demise of Google, and how profoundly different a social media landscape will be?
Plenty to think about, thanks Darren.
Thats funny…android! No, don’t get me wrong…Google isn’t going to evaporate overnight. I just think that between reputations and citations and referrals and testimonials and reviews as confidence factors vs. search, social and the many platforms that word represents, has a distinct advantage going forward. Now, you and I both enjoy Google love, I rank very well for what I do and that comes from years of hard work, as the effort you did with yours. I just wouldn’t want to see that effort (for either of us) go to waste because of a lever pulled here or a button pushed there at the mothership…I want to know those efforts have stability along with results. But I appreciate your POV and you always make my posts more interesting with your comments, so thank you!
Wow…it’s getting hot here at Darren’s. I think what I’m hearing from Andy and a point I would like to make is we still need a balance. Put effort into search and social. Sure I agree contractors don’t have the luxury of time we have with our computers daily…..that’s why they need to hire us!
All in good fun! YES! Most guys and girls have to decide what they are going to do with their days and marketing and promotion fall way to the bottom (for most contractors) which make both SEO AND social tough to deliver on consistently, which is why I am saying if you are going to make the effort, make it on a platform they can’t take away from you (easily).
All the contractors I know, including myself :), have limited time, energy and money to spend on SEO etc. I’d bet that most contractors would gladly go back to the ‘good old days’ of the YP when the only decision was what size ad to buy once a year. It’s way more complicated now. But we all need to have an online presence that works.
A smart social media strategy is important. Try this experiment; Google ‘Santa Cruz Remodeling’. The ‘Remodeling’ image board of the Santa Cruz Construction Guild Pinterest gallery shows up at the top of Page One for this valuable search term. It proves that social media influences Google directly.
This image board has 109 images. That’s not a lot. I did that on a hunch. It worked. It’s been in top position since February. You can do that in your area. Link all the images back to your website. Make your project images work for you.
I’m no expert on SEO although I’ve had several websites since 2001 and leaned allot. I am active on twitter and Facebook but as far as landing jobs from either? You could turn your Facebook page into a mini website so to speak and post constantly about your trade. Whether that will boost your rankings or land you work I’m not so sure..
I’m in a unique position to talk about this topic. My business started at the beginning of the year. I went straight for a website and got it to the top of google (for most of my keywords) on my own. Then I got tired of spending my time working on it myself and let a company take over. They did a great job of keeping me on top until I got kicked for having 2 Google Places set up. Not sure how that happened, but it did. I would say that 95% of my business was coming from Google Search at that time.
As my rankings were falling, I was just getting into the Social Media game pretty heavy. Now it has went from 95% Google/5% Social to more of a 50/50. So Social Media started picking up when I started pushing it more. Now that I’ve started using Darren for my social media, I’ve realized that I’m getting a few more calls per week as well.