How the SEO Game is Changing (and What You Need to Know)

February 6, 2016

It’s frustrating for website owners. The minute you start to get a grasp on what the search engines want from your website they change their algorithms. You want to keep up in the fast-paced SEO game, but how can you with all the updates?


Why the SEO Game Keeps Changing

“Our goal is to get you the exact answer you’re searching for faster,” according to Ben Gomes, Google’s Vice President of Engineering.


To achieve this goal Google continues to make regular changes to their algorithm. The same goes for Bing, Yahoo and other competitors. Google is the largest so we’ll focus on how they’re managing the SEO game.


Each year, Google makes hundreds of changes to their algorithm. Each change has one goal – to make the results a person sees more accurate with what he’s looking for. Some of these updates have been so significant that they’ve heavily punished well-intentioned sites overnight.


What can you do as a business to avoid falling victim to these algorithm changes? Here are 5 things you need to know about how to keep up with SEO changes and the future of SEO.


1. Searchers are Ever the Heroes

Search engines have one person to please – the people who use their service to find businesses like yours. These are their heroes. These are the people who need to stay happy so their business can thrive.


Each algorithm update caters to one group of people – those who use their search engine to find information.


Google does not take into consideration the best interest of businesses. Instead, they’re laser focused on what’s best for their customers. To keep up with the SEO updates and avoid the heavy fist of an algorithm update, you must follow this same approach when planning your SEO strategy. Website visitors come first.


Think of the experience you want a person to have on your website. Then, create it with meaningful content (one of the few things search engines use to understand the context of your page).


Keep your hero your website visitor – not the search engines. The more you do this, the higher you’ll rank and the less likely it is you will be punished.


2. Quality Content Dominates Search Results

Algorithms use the words on your website to determine how to rank you. This isn’t a new trend.



  • Search engines scan your URLs for keywords;
  • Search engines dig into the details of your images to find keywords in the alt tags;
  • Search engines check your copy and content to distinguish what you’re writing about.

As algorithms advance so do the search engines abilities to read and understand your posts. Low value posts, keyword stuffing and other black hat SEO tactics are easily identifiable by search engines today. This is something that will only become more prominent as technology advances.


The key to getting ranked by search engines is to write high quality information. There are a few ways algorithms can tell if something you write is interesting and helpful to their searchers.



  • People stay on your website for a longer amount of time;
  • People don’t leave your website immediately after reading your post (this is known as your bounce rate in Google analytics);
  • Your post is shared on social media or linked back to on other websites.

The more buzz you can generate around your website’s content, the more search engines will take notice. As a result, you’ll be ranked higher.


3. Social Media Plays a Bigger Role

When thinking of the SEO game, many businesses forget to consider social media.


“Since search engines now calculate social relevance and performance across the web, this information empowers your organization to make meaningful adjustments to its social strategies,” according to Searchmetrics.


Search engines place heavy weight on social media much because of how people use these networks today. The more engaged your audience is on social media, the better your website will perform.


And social media serves your business beyond boosting your reputation in front of search engines. It also:



  • Fosters more link building by spreading your content to more people;
  • Pushes your business name to the top of search results by displaying a link to your company’s profiles and pages;
  • Empowers you to naturally attract traffic from social sharing.

Although much of social media’s benefits take place away from your website, it’s a platform that cannot be ignored. Social media drives traffic. In turn, you are in a prime position to get more high quality backlinks.


Backlinks Still Matter… Most of the Time

Backlinks have long been the secret sauce to ranking high on Google. Although there have been rumors about the diminishing importance of backlinks, they continue to serve your website well.


Still, not all backlinks are created equal.


Google caught on quickly to people creating spam sites for the sole effort of helping businesses accumulate the cherished backlink. Linking on these sites is now considered black hat SEO because there is no direct value to the searcher.


To help your search engine ranking, Google wants to see your content linked to from websites with a high domain authority. This means, the website linking to your content must already have proven itself to search engines as a viable and trustworthy site. If they deem your content worthy of a backlink, Google will deem it worthy of a higher ranking.


5. Mobile Cannot be Ignored

Consumers demand responsive websites that will work optimally both on desktop computers and mobile devices. Research finds that 30% of people will abandon their shopping cart if it’s not optimized for a mobile device. That’s significant, especially if you rely on your website to generate sales.


Google caught on to this consumer demand too and launched a major algorithm update punishing everyone with a non-responsive website.


Now, there is no way around this SEO must. If your website is not responsive, you’re losing in the SEO game. To check if your website is mobile friendly (and Google friendly), click here. If it’s not, it’s time for a redesign.


Takeaways

The SEO game is constantly evolving. To keep up, Google wants you to do one thing – place an unwavering focus on your website visitors experience. Do this and you’ll win at the SEO game every time. Ignore it and you risk getting the heavy fist of Google sending your website to the back of the search results with its next update.

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