There’s no escaping the changes that have transformed the SEO landscape in recent years. Website owners and professionals were previously able to play the ‘SEO game’ to ensure that their websites continued to rank high and receive large volumes of traffic. This isn’t the case anymore…
In this video, we break down how Google’s updates have affected the way websites are ranked on search engines and what businesses need to do to ensure their website receives high volumes of traffic.
SEO Procedure used to involve; researching keywords, placing them across the website, then posting content containing the keywords on other sites and link directories. Generally, this would make the website seem more popular to Google, so they would rank it higher which inevitably increased search traffic back to the website.
In 2011, Google began encrypting visitor searches so nobody knew which keywords were generating the most organic traffic to a given website. This allowed Google to rank according to their own criteria making them less susceptible to ranking manipulation.
This was followed with a series of Google updates;
- Panda – penalised websites with low quality, duplicated content and promoted those that were better quality.
- Penguin – punished websites that were spamming
- Hummingbird – effort from Google to understand words like ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘when’ as more web users are asking questions instead of using search terms.
This pushes us towards a new digital marketing approach, where search engine rankings should be a part of the broader marketing mix.
Websites should contain content their customers want, positioning their website as more interesting, more authoritative and more likely to be recognised by Google as useful.
Content can be through referral sources like social media and on other websites to drive more traffic back to the website. Also, if the content is good, it will create a natural linking effect as people begin to share and talk about the content online.
Referral traffic is more constant and controllable, and website owners can gauge, through click-throughs, which sources are generating the most traffic. This ensures budget is being spent on the right sources and offers a greater ROI.
Let’s be honest, SEO will never truly die out as it is still crucial for businesses to rank highly due to the benefit it has on their bottom line – the first page of Google still receives 89% of all search traffic! However by changing the benchmarks for rankings, search engines are encouraging website owners to put their target audiences at the forefront by producing relevant content that is actually beneficial to customers. But this isn’t just search engines being demanding – if a website is of value, a visitor will return again and are likely to spend longer on the site, inevitably reducing the website’s bounce rate.
One of the best things about these changes, are that it has taken away some of the biggest annoyances and frustrations that web visitors face;
- Websites full of spam
- Websites reusing the same content over and over again
- Websites producing uninteresting content purely for keywords and links
Businesses can no longer just buy links and low quality content and distribute it everywhere with no thought – Google has stopped recognising this. The shift towards a digital marketing mix is all about companies implementing marketing and PR tactics to generate and distribute content that is valuable and relevant. By integrating methods like content marketing, video marketing, social media and paid search, companies will be able to interrupt the buying process from all angles and drive optimal traffic.
In essence, search engines are becoming harder to influence, and the method of searching is becoming more natural. However,search engines will always need a method to determine whether one website is better than another, and keywords will always have a place as they are the only thing that makes a website relevant to a topic. But if a website is not engaging with their audience, if they’re not optimised for all web users and they’re not offering anything useful, then they will not succeed in the search engines in 2014.