Is SEO Dead

SEO may seem like an odd topic choice for a website devoted to
novelists, after all, we write books, not web copy. But if you stop and think
about it, even if it’s not our day job, most of us connect with our readers
through the Internet. Specifically through blogging, websites, and social media.
And that’s why staying current with SEO is vital.
But what is SEO? When the Internet was young and search engines new, a
way had to be found to rank the order of websites that came up during a search.
With that, Search Engine Optimization was born.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is simply that, an algorithm that
ranks websites when a consumer types in a query. The quandary comes when you
compare the goals of the consumer, the specific search engine, and the website
  • The consumers want the most relevant information to show up first.
  • The Search Engine developers want that, but they also want to be the
    go-to search engine for the most consumers.
  • The website owners want their sites to come up first…no matter what.

Although all these goals are related, they are different. And, with these
differing goals, we now have come confusion and competition.
In the early years of these algorithms, keywords were…well…key. The
more keywords a website had, the higher up it would appear in the list of
relevant sites. On the surface this appears to be reasonable. But, website
designers soon found a way to trick the system. They’d load pages into a site
with nothing but keywords. These pages had no information, just repeated
This little cheat frustrated consumers, because it frequently meant
the best sites fell lower in the list. So the search engine developers began to
tweak the algorithms and make them more complex. But clever website designers
continued to find ways around the system.
For a while, content was king. It didn’t have to be good content, just
new articles loosely related to the subject of the website. This led to content
mills and article spinning (rewriting the same information over and over again
just enough so it qualified as new).
There were also requirements of links to and from relative sites,
number of hits, then number of unique hits, and hundreds of other little pieces
to the algorithms.

Then came Google’s now infamous Panda Update, followed
quickly by the recent Penguin Update.
The short explanation of both Panda and Penguin was Google trying to clean
There were so many websites using black-hat SEO techniques (cheating)
that consumers were getting fed up. Essentially Google cleaned house, penalized
those sites that employed these techniques and tried to restore more accurate
website rankings.

So what does that have to do with smaller bloggers, especially novelists?
Personally, I think it’s good news. For me, I’ve always tried to
deliver accurate, passionate content, whatever site I’m writing for. And in the past, by NOT
employing tricks, these sites have ranked lower. Now these sites are easier to find because
Google is rewarding quality content.
So ow do you deliver content that Google rewards, instead of penalizes?
It’s really not that hard. 
  • Write from your passion. Passion is obvious in good writing. Don’t follow
    the trends, follow your heart when you’re finding a focus for your blog or
  • Generate good, valuable content. This means correct grammar, as well as
    tightly focused relevant articles.
  • Come up with targeted titles. Don’t throw out the keywords completely. But use
    them to reflect the actual message of your post. Not sure how to use keywords
    correctly? Here’s a post I wrote on Using KeywordsEffectively.
  • Format your site and your content with the READER in mind. This means an
    easy-to-read font, block formatting, and short—targeted—articles.
  • Keep a regular schedule. This is so critically important. Everyone who
    creates a blog wants his readers to return. But how can we expect that, when
    we’re never home. Meaning, we post sporadically and without apparent rhyme or
    reason. All that does is frustrate our readers and prove we’re not trustworthy.
    There is WAY too much competition for us to be lazy. 

So, the demise of SEO has been greatly exaggerated. It isn’t
dead—but it has changed. But the change is leveling the playing field, at least
until someone finds a way to trick the system yet again.

Now it’s your turn.
What frustrates you when you enter a term into a search engine? How do you deal
with the ever-changing climate of the Internet?

Edie Melson is the author of four books, a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also the social media columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and social media mentor for My Book Therapy. Connect with her through Twitter,  Facebook, and her popular blog for writers,