The warning comes from a panel of SEO experts at a round table discussion held by hosting and cloud specialist UKFast.
Sam Allcock, CEO of Custard Media warned that firms must now diversify their traffic streams rather than relying solely on Google. He said: “Businesses must investigate every alternative method of traffic, including Facebook and Twitter. It just so happens now the easiest way to attract traffic is through Google but will this be the case in five years?”
Christian Hill, director of strategy at digital agency Project Simply, pointed out that link-building is no longer enough for SEO specialists: “With the advent of social media it’s no longer about focusing on the link but on the traffic stream the content can give you. It’s now about building the value of the business.”
Jonathan Bowers, MD of cloud and colocation firm UKFast said: “We have spent a lot of time assessing the role that hosting and page load speed plays in Google’s search ranking but as we grow we know that traffic is no longer solely Google-led – original content of value and social media drive a significant portion of our traffic and ensure that should any dramatic changes happen to the Google algorithm, if we were to fall foul of these changes, we’d still have a traffic stream.”
Digital consultant Ian Patterson also highlighted that Google’s recent changes, such as the Penguin update, had shifted the focus for companies to start viewing ‘traffic’ as people with needs. Allcock concurred: “Are number one ranking sites actually delivering the best service and experience? Searches are important to people and if Google is not showing the best sites in the top positions it will be affected.”
Traditional SEO agencies must now offer full marketing campaigns according to Neil Walker, founder of Quaero Media: “Traditional ad agencies are now picking up big clients from just SEO agencies by embracing digital, which is why SEO agencies are now changing.”
Simon Swan posed the opinion that the term SEO was becoming redundant as search becomes more socially-led. He said: “SEO is becoming increasingly redundant and I expect to see it shift to whole mixed-digital online marketing focussing on a strategy based around content that, along with paid search and social media, will attract visitors.
“Great content will be shared across social media, doing the hard work for you.”
Despite the changes to the SEO landscape, Patterson believes it is still relevant: “You’ll always need someone who understands how SEO works and to take customers on that journey. The new focus on content is merely an opportunity for businesses to diversify.”