By: Luis Borba
You may not know it, but the quest for a more human search engine has begun. Until now, Google’s search results and rankings have been governed by the careful selection and placement of keywords within a website. This combination has meant night and day difference for a website’s visibility, a constant balancing act for SEO experts.
Google’s constantly evolving algorithm, their secret sauce for delivering results, is the the cause for recent concerns. Upcoming changes will, according to Google, provide a content balance to the SEO-centric approach to digital marketing.
Until now, it’s been common practice to keyword-stuff web pages and links to get an edge on rankings. Some websites exist solely as content farms, whereby content is created to match popular searches. The issue there is that the quantity of content is favoured over the quality.
These changes will focus less on overly optimized websites and more on good content.
What does Google mean by good content? Good content is human-created, original, valuable information such as in-depth reports, research, reviews, images, and personal narrative. Good content strikes a chord with people and instantly becomes a social element that sparks online conversation.
The idea is that people will share the content they like with others, thus increasing the content’s search ranking. It will be less about SEO techniques and more about content craftsmanship. People like good content and are willing to share it.
According to The Wall Street Journal’s interview with Google’s executive, Amit Singhal, “With semantic searches, people’s searches will be better matched with ‘entities’–or people, places and things.” Movies, books, blogs and celebrity profiles are just some of the entities that Google is talking about, which they have been storing in databases for some time.
Instead of search results being defined by keyword placement, semantic search will provide personalized results to each user’s preferences, which includes content that’s shared via social media. Google now displays your friend’s +1’s in search results when you are logged in with a Google account. If you looked up great Mexican restaurants, and your friend happened to have added a +1 for a particular one, it would appear at the top of the results page. A great description of this can be found at Google’s Search Plus Your World.
This has a profound effect on digital marketing. Keyword players will have to adapt or go the way of the dinosaur. Content creators and digital marketing strategists will have the upper hand as long as they produce meaningful work, which requires an understanding of the audience.
The latest changes to Google’s algorithm were rolled out on April 11. They’re not meant to replace the current tried and true SEO approach. For now, it’s business as usual, with an eye on sharing good content. We strongly believe that social sharing is the new SEO, and that’s why it’s more important than ever to put a social media strategy in play.
We’ll leave you with these final words, a quote from Google’s own philosophy: “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”