This week we have evolved from Aqueous SEO to Aqueous Digital and all our branding including our website, social media sites and even the stationery has switched to the Aqueous Digital brand.
Of course the question is 'why bother doing this'?
The answer comes in part from yesterday's blog post on our site in which I said;
"In reality, SEO was always a small, but quite significant part of an overall marketing strategy. The importance of SEO however was elevated artificially by the noise that surrounded link building (and buying) to such a level that sites would buy a high number of links to rank highly in searches. Google of course did little to help this simply counting the number of links as a measure of popularity and soon SEO became synonymous with getting as many links as you can to your site and it almost replaced the need to bother with online marketing. Google has since got wise and now encourages quality and creative content that users can 'like' and 'share'; in other words you now need to market your business properly in order to earn your rankings.
We actually started out trying to improve website usability, visibility and making sure clients had great content and whilst we did a certain amount of link building, in the past year we have focused even more heavily on creating great sites and great content. And so, as what we do has finally been recognised as the way to go in the future, we have been evolving the name to reflect this and we feel that Aqueous Digital fits the bill perfectly. "
The change has been coming for some time now and indeed I wrote a piece back in April entitled 'Why SEO is now a dirty word' in which I explained that the problem of backlinks was about to come and bite the industry in the backside. For far too long the entire SEO industry has been preoccupied with backlinks; naturally so because Google did, and still does, use them as the major signal in ranking websites. The problem arises when they are so open to abuse, manipulation and fraud, and over the past ten years there have been billions of links bought, sold and created which frankly have no reason to be in existence other than to artificially boost a website's rankings.
Google's clean-up effort so far seems to be a series of changes to the algorithm in which they slowly but surely weed out what they don't like and if they find any of it linking to your site then your site gets hit. So if you have a website that is over five years old then the chances are that your backlink profile has some hidden horrors in it. And it can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Just this morning I double checked our own backlink profile to find that two weeks ago someone created a hugely spammy block of text, set it live on a Korean website, and provided a backlink to our own website on the anchor text of 'connect with girls'. Quite what they hoped to achieve by this is unclear but suffice to say that we have immediately disavowed it so it can't harm our site.
And that in a nutshell is why links are ultimately the wrong metric by which you should rank websites. Links can be created from anywhere at any time and help or hinder websites in equal measure and therefore Google's continued reliance on them to rank sites can easily be manipulated.
The future of course will be very different; so much so that I'm betting the entire firm on it. The change to being a Digital Marketing firm rather than focusing on SEO means our aim is to help clients create a Marketing strategy within which sits a Digital Marketing strategy, within which sits SEO. In other words pure SEO becomes a much smaller part of our work going forward. We're betting that better Marketing will be the metric by which all websites are judged in the future. We already had the skill sets in place and we've just expanded and strengthened the team with a professional writer so we know we're well placed to succeed.
We're not alone in this; even moz.com rebranded from SEOmoz in May so when an industry leader makes a strategic change like this you know you're in good company.
So welcome to the bright new future where it's more about who you are and what you do than how many links you can afford to buy.