SEO is in a constant flux. It changes before you publish a post, if you will.
Yet, as marketers, SEO holds tremendous value as long as you put in the effort, pay heed to best practices, do what it takes to work on your content, SEO optimization, and inbound links.
Google, however, insists on making the Internet a better place. Thin content is frowned upon while the only kind of content that works – whether you choose to focus on SEO or not – is the kind of content that makes readers go “wow” or have them come back for more.
Anything less won’t do.
SEO professionals spend more time keeping themselves updated on new SEO rules, ever-changing best practices, and Google’s relentless tweaks to its algorithm. Agreed that SEO experts might or might not like these changes but they didn’t say, “Adapt to grow” for nothing.
Here are some of those recent updates that’ll affect your SEO efforts:
Ricardo Bilton of Venture Beat claims that the latest Google update – also called as “Hummingbird” – is one of the most important in the history of Google’s updates in the last ten years.
The update, by the way, is not just limited to search; it has a lot to do with the future especially with mobile search growing in importance and also the possible influx of other devices such as Google glass. You can read more about the latest Hummingbird update but the takeaways are as follows:
- Mobile SEO is going to be more important than ever. Google will place a tremendous amount of emphasis on search results displayed on Mobile devices.
- Google is moving away from keywords to intent and semantics. Further, your location, previous search history, social media involvement (signals?), and social connections will play a vital role in the kind of search results displayed to every search user.
Understandably, it’s a natural path for Google to take. Quick, transparent, conversational, and more meaningful – that’s how Google wants to present search results as. Keywords, keyword density, pages stuffed with content developed for key phrases and even the much safer “long-tail approach to SEO” isn’t going to cut it.
Keyword data? That’s so not there anymore
Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land recently announced that Google now has a stricter, post-PRISM approach to business: it intends to keep search secure. Barring clicks and ads – and all data pertaining to these activities – regular search has been funneled into a seemingly endless encryption project.
Around two years ago, all search activity for users logged into Google was encrypted. Starting September, however, all search activity is encrypted.
The trend seems to be like this: for normal publishers, it’s either impossible or it’d demand a huge task load to refer to keyword data. For Ad Words users (paid or not), it seems to be a tad easier. While Google’s calling here seems pretty business-like and skewed to push many users (publishers and businesses) to use the Ad Words system, the fact remains that search data is now getting more private by the day.
Pamela Vaughan of Hubspot.com explains what it might mean for marketers:
- It’d be hard to know search terms that made visitors end up at your website.
- You’d lack clear insights on search activity, visiting traffic, and analytics.
Bot turns human
Google has a clear strategy at play: it wants to answer questions as accurately as possible. If it has to almost don the role of a human, it will. Google now looks at the entire search query and not just keywords. According to Victoria Woollaston of Daily Mail, Google users Knowledge Graph to compile a set of data for queries.
As a part of the “Hummingbird” update from Google, users can already do a lot with Google using just voice. Google Maps App for iOS already has “speak to get directions” facility. Search cannot be too far behind. The ability to use voice for search is also the reason why mobile users will take to mobile searches in a big way. That’s why the search queries will tend to be longer, more semantic, conversational, and a huge departure from erstwhile keyword phrases, which tend to be more strict and shorter in the written form.
According to David Rogers of Mad Mobile News, this is more work for marketers. Search marketers will now have to factor in this question: “What would users probably say to their smartphones?” instead of just “What would users type in the search box?”
Businesses take note: It’s convergence time for Google
With the recent update of merging paid and organic reports in Ad Words, analyzing your search footprint got easier. While you had to view your analytics for organic searches and results of paid ads separately, you’ll now have a way to determine overlaps in users and listings in search. You’ll also be able to discover additional keywords, optimize your Google footprint, and get a wholesome few of your campaigns on Google.
Your Ad Words account just got indispensible, as you’d be able to see how your paid ads work alongside your organic search listings. You’ll also be able to improve your CTR thanks to the overall synergy of paid and organic ads working together with a pulse on performance.
There was a time when all that businesses and marketers needed was content. Focus then shifted to “awesome content”. In the future, it’s likely to be “All kinds of awesome content tailor-made for all sorts of devices and outputs (including voice commands) ”
Google products are getting merged slowly. Keywords are out and semantics are in. Location makes a difference and it’s still the content that takes the cake and gets to eat it too.
If you are a search marketer, how are these new updates affecting your SEO work? How are you playing out your SEO strategies based on these new updates? What should small businesses do to field these changes?
Image Source – flickr