While content may still be king, it is simply not enough to follow the “standard” SEO conventions of using targeted terms in a particular density, in the correct order with the proper semantic structure. Search engines (and humans) are looking for more. They want to read an narrative that means something. They want to know more about your business or product. They want ways to connect.
This change does not mean standards and best practices are out the window. It just means that simply doing “traditional SEO” is no longer enough – you have to broaden your scope. Having a website with a solid permalink structure, strong titles, the proper use of semantic markup and data organization is still very important, but isn’t enough to ensure your rankings.
The overall experience of the website, whether the site appears trustworthy, the quality of design, the ability of a visitor to navigate the site effectively, how long a visitor stays on your site – all of these metrics (and more) are now taken into account when your site is analyzed. Sites without any social media presence are more likely to appear as “spam”, and sites with unique, well-written content can be penalized if it appears to be written solely for the purposes of SEO.