I'm not an SEO expert... far from it. In fact I would go so far as to say I'm still an SEO beginner .. it's certainly not the main aspect of my networking business, but it is an aspect. I am aware of it. We should all be at least aware of it. I do some reading on the subject and I like to see my sites getting ranked on Google and my videos on YouTube. Any well rounded online marketer will know that search engine optimization does have some relevance.
So I've learned the search engine optimization basics, and happy to pass those on to some other beginners.
Google has an army of technicians tweaking their data daily. Most changes are good for the end user, but it does require us to stay on our toes if we want to keep up with the latest changes and updates. If a person does not catch-up, or keep up, it can be a little confusing and a bit if a guessing game.
For those who need a crash course, search engines serve to find and create different search results based on the "keywords" that are put into the search box. The technology is smart though and getting smarter. Your results can be a reflection of some of your history and habits. They might pull up pages for you based on pages you've found useful in the past, or your profile if you have one, or your location, or a number of other things relative to your habits.
For the marketer who is counting on rankings to get traffic, keeping up with the changes will become a continual thing, and could become a challenge to stay in front of. Google's search engines programming will continue to evolve and grow and change, making it necessary to stay in tune with what' s happening. The basics will remain pretty straight forward, but some of the SEO marketers get deeply involved with the technology and it becomes quite competitive.
Google does however continue to provide a good assortment of tools and training for webmasters to help them improve their page ranks.
One thing that has not changed: The marketers most powerful weapon in their arsenal will remain high quality content to attract their audiences. So regardless of how techie you are on search engine optimization, your job stays the same ... to continue creating well written authority content. If you do that you will continue to rank.
Don't try to trick the search engines, they are 3 steps ahead of you. Instead focus on providing quality content your audience wants and needs. That is your main objective. You can always study to learn the nuances of SEO if you want, but do that first.
Yes it does work... it will get you traffic, and some niches are better served by search engine optimization than others. SEO works exceptionally well for local businesses, maybe because the keywords inserted tend to be more precise. I'm not sure, but even so, online businesses where location does not matter can benefit from SEO as well. Provided of course that you are delivering great content and lots of it, and you understand how to use keywords properly.
Long gone are the days of keyword stuffing, and you don't want your content to look unnatural in any way, just to insert a keyword. There was a time that was acceptable and even recommended but hose days do not exist any longer. You will get the exact opposite result... in the form of penalties from Google.
So keep it natural, insert the keywords where they make sense and keep the story flowing. Of course you want to continue using your keywords in your page titles, tags, subtitles, and headers.
Social media has become a force for marketers i think we can all agree on that... but ... don't for a minute think it has replaced websites for sending traffic to. Social media is a means to drive traffic to those sites. (or your brick and mortar store). You don't want your audience to go to social media and stay there, and you don't want your social media base to not experience a well rounded marketing loop or funnel. You still want to take them on a journey that educates and informs them along the way, on autopilot.
Social media is a great place for an initial contact or introduction... a means for people getting to know you, and then getting into your funnel. Your website and blog are you base. Your websites still are used to build your list. So getting ranked in google (and YouTube) will remain a force with savvy networkers.
Things evolve quickly online these days. Yes search engine optimization is still a major factor, but also pay attention to video, webinars, online events, and more traffic generating technologies that have become prevalent today. Bottom line .... continue to focus on delivering high quality useful content that is focused on your audience, and you will benefit from search engine traffic.