Many search engine rankings were affected recently when Google did a makeover on their new search algorithm. Many businesses still do not know if they were affected. Some had very high rankings on search engine pages and are not even showing up now.
Google has changed the rules again, and if your rankings were affected, your SEO now needs a fresh and new approach. Google says that the revamp affects 90% of its search results worldwide.
Is Google trying to kill SEO? No, they are not. Yes, keywords are important. Search is now and will be for the foreseeable future a function that is important in many aspects of marketing, shopping and the Internet. What is changing is the way people are searching; specifically, the words or phrases that people use when searching. Because of this, search engine optimization has to be viewed differently.
Optimizers have, for a long time, tried to figure out Google’s algorithm. Just when progress was made in this area, it seemed Google changed the rules. Google doesn't do this just to prevent code-breaking. They do it because search habits and needs are evolving as the whole digital world is evolving.
The current emphasis is related to this evolved “experience” for the person doing the search. One of the keys to this experience is the whole notion of and need for content; valuable, relevant, easily consumed content, all with the searcher in mind.
The content experience and user experience is key to ‘Future SEO’.
Marketers need to take this into consideration and assure that content is:
- Useful, helpful and/or informative; another way to say valuable and relevant.
- NOT marketing-message and sales-message driven; consumers need to see value or expertise demonstrated; that's part of a good experience
- Written for the specific customer/user audience segment; again, relevancy.
- Distributed in multiple formats and across multiple networks/outlets.
The last point regarding content distribution suggests that ‘real’ social media strategies are now REQUIRED. Thinking that an intern or 1 employee spending 1 hour per day on social media is enough is no longer an effective approach (not that it really ever was). In addition to a strategic plan for the main company social accounts, companies should have resources (employees) dedicated to social media management and content development, PLUS develop strategies for active social media involvement for all employees.
The last few Google updates are a continuation of Google improving the search experience with the user in mind.
For years now, the optimization goal has been the same.
- Code your website cleanly, with thoughtful information architecture
- Incorporate microdata/ schema markup
- Provide consistency and thoroughness of localization practices and citations
- Create multimedia content that is valuable and relevant
- Facilitate social sharing and active, widespread engagement
Think of the current search landscape as ‘advanced search’. The main Google search box is just the keyword box, or now, the keyword phrase box. Once the words or phrases are entered, then all of the other advanced search factors are auto-entered by Google to complete the search (location, device type, search history, social graphs, etc.).
To optimize for today’s search engines, customer personas need to be completely understood. This means deciphering the various mindsets and situations that would lead a person to search for something. Searchers are looking for solutions to their current challenges that led them to search in the first place. They are looking for something to help them succeed with their own goals and guidance, as well as insight from experienced professionals who can relate to their situation. Search has very little to do with RAW product/service promotion anymore and more to do with being a visible resource who consistently delivers thoughtful leadership through the dissemination of expert advice, perspective and relevant content. (Sounds like a great search mission statement/goal).