Google page with Save Ferris“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.” This sage advice comes to us from the wise and prescient Ferris Bueller. In a world where strategic business planning is typically measured in years, the pace of change in the world of search is placing constant stress on internet marketing plans.

Google’s “Panda” update earlier this year is the latest example of search game-changers. What’s a company to do? This video from the search experts at SEOmoz explain the reason for and implications of this algorithm change. Before you watch this important video, here are a couple of important takeaways:

Search Engine Gaming Is Getting Harder

There were lots of automated, black-hat techniques that were effective at generating inbound links, boosting your page rank and improving organic search ranking. While inbound links are still important, other more social factors are getting involved in the algorithm that are harder to game. At the end of the day, the formula for success is still the same: Create remarkable content that people want to consume and share with others.

Ignore Social Media at Your Own Peril

The search algorithms are increasingly incorporating more and more data from social media APIs. This means that by not participating in social media, you are potentially hurting your organic search engine results. In other words, you may not generate lots of leads from social media activities like Twitter but alone that isn’t a reason for not participating.

Dump Metrics, Adopt Analytics

The Grand Pooh-bah of web analytics, Avinash Kaushik, warns against confusing metrics with analytics. “When people say, ‘web analytics,’ they really mean web metrics. Your boss rarely asks for analysis; she asks for ‘data’ (metrics) or ‘reports’ (KPIs)… If you remember nothing else, remember this: life is about taking action, and if your work is not driving action, you need to stop and reboot.” Old metrics like page views and inbound links used to tell most of the story. But now that’s no longer the case. Search optimization requires diving much deeper and finding answers like, “Why is the bounce rate on this page so high?” or “How can we increase the conversion rate of this page?”

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Setting proper expectations for search optimization is critical. As the system becomes harder to game and increasingly requires social validation, the results will take longer and longer. The reason is that you need to build an audience, which takes time. There are exceptions, of course, when you can catch lightning in a bottle go viral but those are infrequent scenarios and unreliable. Remember, hope is not a strategy.

UPDATE: Less than two hours after publishing this article, Search Engine Land published an article about “The Bleak Future of Commoditized, Outsourced SEO.” It explains in detail why the shortcuts are disappearing.

How Google’s Panda Update Changed SEO Best Practices Forever

Without further delay, here is a great video from SEOmoz’s Whiteboard Friday series.