Google algorithms are constantly changing, meaning SEO strategies are constantly changing as well. Among the more recent changes that Google has made is the decreasing importance of keyword ranking. The days of keyword stuffing to improve your rank are over. In fact, the idea of keywords is becoming largely irrelevant. For this reason, Hubspot and many other digital marketing tools are removing their keyword ranking tools. As Google shifts its emphasis away from keyword rank, smart SEO strategists will do the same. Here’s everything you need to know.
Google is Getting Smarter
Over the years, Google has become more advanced. When you search for something, it no longer attempts to exactly match the words you search with the words in a web page. Instead, Google now attempts to understand the meaning behind searches and behind web pages. Because Google can now understand the overall meaning behind content, short keywords are largely irrelevant. Instead, it ranks pages based on which web page answers the searcher’s question or best matches the search’s overall meaning. Additionally, Google learns from your previous searches and tailors its results to you specifically, based on your previous searches. Therefore, each person’s individual search results on Google will vary slightly, even for the same exact search.
One of the newer features of Google that is changing the way we think about search is the rich answer box. When searchers enter a question into the Google search box, Google selects an excerpt from a web page that it feels best answers the searcher’s question. This excerpt is featured in its rich answer box along with a link to the web page. The advantage of this rich answer box is that it appears at the very top of the search results, before any of the web pages or even the paid ads. The rich answer box provides an added opportunity for your site to show up at the top of search results. Because of rich answers, it’s important to focus your web content on answering questions your potential customers might ask.
Another fairly recent addition to Google that impacts ranking is local search. Local search is especially important on mobile searches, which make up more than half of the total searches on Google. When searchers are looking for businesses, products, or services, Google will rank the businesses close to their location first. In addition to the changes on mobile, Google also has a local search box for both mobile and desktop searches. Before its search results, Google will present location-specific searches with a local search box, including a map of the searcher’s location and businesses nearby that fit the criteria. Because of this added feature, websites must be sure to properly optimize their sites for local search to take advantage of this added opportunity for a top ranking.
For many years, measuring Google rank was one of the cornerstones of SEO. However, Google is taking steps to change this fact. Not only is Google restricting the data it allows third parties to collect, but it is also penalizing websites that attempt to get around its new restrictions. When websites attempt to gather information that Google does not want them to have, Google will permanently place them at the bottom of search results.
In addition to Google’s restrictions, the way Google ranks websites is changing. Google is constantly indexing every website on the Internet, changing its ranking for different searches daily. From one moment to the next, the exact same search can yield different results. Additionally, Google’s personalization changes greatly affect ranking. Mobile search results are greatly affected by the searcher’s location, meaning the same person can yield different search results in different places. Google’s attempts to personalize results to each individual user mean that two different searchers can yield different results with the same search in the same place. The combination of all of these factors makes measuring rank impossible and largely irrelevant.
How to Respond to These Changes
All of Google’s recent changes and added features mean one thing: keywords and keyword rank are largely irrelevant. However, that does not make SEO obsolete, it just needs some adjustments. Shift your focus away from keywords and avoid keyword stuffing at all costs. You should pay attention to your Google rank, but don’t track it closely because it is subject to change. Instead, focus on making a quality site. Make sure your content includes every question your customers and potential customers might have. Include detailed information about your industry and make sure that every topic or subtopic your target audience might search is covered. Consider creating pillar pages to organize your content and make sure that all of the important topics are covered. Instead of attempting to work around Google’s rules and cheat the system, focus your efforts on creating quality content and Google will reward your site.
ImageWorks, LLC | CT Search Engine Optimization
While professional SEO services can offer many opportunities to your business, you should never depend on SEO alone for the growth of your business. The companies that thrive on the online world have a comprehensive approach and utilize both online and offline marketing strategies. SEO can be a big piece; however, it is only one slice of the marketing pie.
By integrating all of today's Web tools such as SEO, social media, pay per click, and blogs, ImageWorks, LLC can turn your site into a lead generation tool.