The development of SEO and Google’s algorithms is interconnected and interdependent. Every change Google makes to its searching algorithm affects search results in some way. Everything Google has done since 2011 is focused on secure search, protecting their data and online privacy, and, let’s be honest, monetizing their data. “Pandas”, “Penguins”, “Hummingbirds” and Graph Carousel are a part of a long-term multicomponent strategy. They show that the results of searching become more complicated and relevant, not limited to one query.
Google has its idea of what top websites should look like, and people in SEO either follow Google’s prescriptions or try to overcome the algorithm. They improve technologies and Google reacts by changing their algorithms. In response, marketing strategies must change to adapt these new search algorithms. And the process continues.
But what if, instead of trying to get to the top of Google with tricks, spam and schemes, we try to change the approach and pay attention to what Google wants top search results to be. This is easy to figure out looking through the changes Google has made in the past. From this, you can work out the site strategy that would meet Google’s wishes, and take your business to the top.
Face the challenges and grasp the purposes
Hundreds of changes are made by Google every year. Mostly insignificant, sometimes Google rolls out major enhancements. These major algorithmic changes have a strong influence on search and, consequently, on rankings, website traffic, and stimulate SEO improvements.
To see the whole picture, let’s look at Google’s major initiatives that reveal the future of SEO.
First of all, Google has made the keyword data on users who visit sites unavailable. Now showing as ‘(Not Provided)’, the intentions of customers who came to the site are no longer clear.
Secondly, Google hasn’t updated PageRank numbers in Toolbar since February, when this used to be done every three months. This distracts those who used it for site reputation measurements.
Thirdly, the Hummingbird algorithm brought “conversational search” which pays attention not to particular words in a query, but to the whole sentence and the meaning behind it. Moreover, the query might consist of more than one related sentences, and you will get results for each of them based on previous ones. The impact of Hummingbird on SEO is about restructuring website content from focus on keywords, to answering people’s questions.
Fourthly, “Panda” and now “Penguin” show that Google wants sites to have quality content and reduce black-hat SEO techniques and over-optimization. If Google dictates the terms, we have to accept them.
Google+ – It’s clear that Google induces social sharing and personalized data, so though Google+ is not treated like a regular link, it does have a certain influence on search results.
Another Google child, “Google Now”, reveals the company’s intentions to be a real-time mobile advisor. Though this may not entirely affect the search game.
The so-called “Author Rank” also matters. Websites with verified authors usually rank higher than anonymous ones. An author with strong responses gets higher rankings. Google uses author information to associate different pieces of content with one person who wrote it. After all, Eric Schmidt claims that Google+ was designed as an identity verification network.
One more feature by Google is in-depth articles. These refer to more comprehensive and involved learning of a query subject. In-depth article blocks sometimes appear in search results dealing with author and publisher rank.
A concept of a website which Google would love
Analyzing Google’s initiatives brings us to the idea of what features Google would prefer a top-rated website to have:
A site with valuable and helpful content, created for people but not search engines
TED is a great platform, providing videos of a global set of conferences held under the slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading”
Great and pleasant experiences for all users who visit the website, encouraging them to return
Squarespace has a nice simple and clear pricing page
Personalized and relevant content for groups of people with common interests, goals and problems
Soundcloud unites sound creators and allows them to share their originally-created sounds.
Narratively is a community where talented storytellers share their in-depth local stories.
Content that gives real-time information, provides people with data in the right place at the right time
The New York Times is a world-known daily newspaper with always fresh and breaking news
Evolved communication between leads and customers, possible through social channels.
TechCrunch not only provides latest news and articles on technology related topics but is also well-integrated with social networks as seen on the top of the screenshot.
Changing the strategy
All of the shifts driven by Google lead to a need to overcome questions such as “how to get a higher PageRank?” or “what are the right keywords?”. Today SEO efforts should come to another strategic behavior. The main goal is to understand what exactly Google wants search results to look like. How does Google judge top-rated websites?
Considering the above, the correct SEO strategy is to move away from regular technical details and take a wider approach. Here are several useful tips:
Imagine your customers clearly. Ask yourself, whether it’s a housewife with children or a businessman. Develop your website basing on what interface they are expecting to see, create content that is interesting and clear to them, without anything unnecessary. This will improve the user experience and encourage people to come back to your site.
Use the language your customers use when choosing keywords and creating content. Think about your target audience. How would they formulate their query? Would they use business or spoken language? Plan your keyword strategy keeping your potential customers in mind. Speak in their language through the website content.
Don’t save resources on creating high-quality content. Useful and helpful information is highly appreciated by both users and search engines. People would share valuable content with others attracting new customers and bringing you sales.
Keep in touch with authorities. Communication with influential sources can give you many links and social shares.
Don’t forget about social component. Everything is about social communication and social sharing today. To gain love of customers, it is strongly recommended to use social channels for popularization of your website.
Google brought a challenge to SEO, moving from keywords orientation to the meaning of the words. Some say “SEO is dead” but this may refer to SEO in its traditional meaning, the truth is that SEO has to change along with Google’s changes.
A close look at the changes reveals the major goals of Google’s strategy. They are: the importance of authority, high quality in-depth content, outstanding sites, great user experience and visibility, personalized answers.
Understanding of this concept is the key to effective SEO and high ranks of your website. Tactical items like keywords and PageRank still have certain influence, but other things come first. We must play by Google’s rules. There is no need to counter their changes, when you can just go along with them. In fact, they just make for better websites.