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Op-Ed: Why SEO firms are a dying industry and PR is the future of rank

Every business with a website is continually solicited from SEO companies promising to improve your ranking with the search engines.

And who can blame us for wanting to believe. Every entrepreneur knows a high-ranking with Google can increase your business overnight.

But do these SEO firms work or are they selling snake oil to the blind? First, a little back-story on SEO and how we got here.

Just a few short years ago, many SEO companies bought back-links and blasted out press releases in hopes of improving website rankings. It actually worked, until Google changed its algorithm. Those aggressive SEO tactics are no longer effective.

Yes – Google still uses back-links to help identify the value of a website, but it is no longer weighted as heavily when deciding where a website is ranked with the search engines. Today, Google assesses the source and credibility of those back-links connecting to your website.

Earlier this summer, reports surfaced that Google was once again updating its latest version of Panda that would change the way consumers discovered content on the web.

Google does not publicly reveal the Panda algorithm, but there is enough information out on the Google Panda patent that gives business owners guidance on what Google uses to measure rank.

Here are a few things we can take away from this patent that will influence the way the world finds your business.

1) Backlinks and press releases are old school. The era of buying backlinks and blasting press releases to improve your SEO no longer work. Google now places a larger emphasis on implied links. In simple terms, Google can place just as much weight behind an actual brand that is mentioned on the web and without the actual link on the page.

2) PR firms are the next SEO firms. Guess who creates buzz or news stories that ignite those “brand” mentions on the web? PR firms, which is why public relations will play an even larger force with website rankings. Online ad budgets don’t increase your rankings with search sites, but news mentions with bloggers or other content providers do. I’ll go as far as saying SEO firms are a dying breed.

Here’s a more detailed example of how this works. As a contributor with CNBC, Digital Journal and other news sites, my PR firm– Macias PR – is regularly mentioned on popular news sites. It’s “mentions” like this that will continually push my PR firm higher up with the search engines. If you want to raise the profile of your business on the web, you need to start getting more mentions for your brand or company on the web.

3) Quality content is the new “backlink.” – If you are trying to increase the ranking of your website, it goes back to the TV cliché, content is King. The producers and creators of original and high quality content will receive a higher placement from Google. In addition, if you are creating content specifically for “commercial” rather than consumer use, Panda might be able to outsmart you and lower your ranking. For example, I am writing this story, speaking directly to a consumer. The Panda algorithm should give this story a higher ranking than “commercial” content that is created using popular keywords for the sole purpose of website ranking.

What does that mean to your business? If you have a blog, write directly to your customer. Think of them first and if you sprinkle in a few popular keywords, you should move up with the search engines.

Now that is something no SEO firm can do. It’s the actual job of all PR firms, creating buzz and igniting mentions in the news. Now, it’s a matter of finding the top PR firm for your business.

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