The Future of Search Engine Optimization
Years ago if you wanted to rank for a keyword phrase in Google, it was mostly about on-page content and a handful of backlinks (links to your website).
Let's say you wanted your site to be found for the phrase blue widgets. Well the process was fairly simple.
Just create a bunch of Web pages that mention the phrase blue widgets, make sure it's mentioned in your title, link a few pages to that page using blue widgets in the link text (anchor text) and within a matter of time you'd slowly start to see your site climb up the rankings.
Google Gets Tougher
In 2011, we started seeing Google heavily penalize websites for low-quality content, linking schemes and other "black hat", activities.
Black hat means using techniques to artifically inflate your popularity in an effort to trick Google into ranking you higher.
So if you bought links from a website, that would be "black hat" because these links weren't earned naturally.
Google also began favoring brands, making it harder for the "little guy" to rank above them.
Then in 2012 Matt Cutts (the head of Google's webspam team) warned us that search engine optimization (SEO) was about to get harder.
Manipulating the results with links and other on-page schemes started to get even harder and that trend continues today.
Google now looks at a combination of factors to determine where a page ranks and the algorithm seems to change frequently.
However, here are some key factors Google uses...
1) Big brands get an automatic boost
2) Social media shares play a larger role
3) Google Authorship weighs in more and more
4) Backlinks still play a big roll, but it's not about quantity, but quality. Google devalued a lot of backlinks that used to count (link exchanges, article directories, etc.)
The Evolution Video
If you want to see a visual of how SEO has evolved, check out my very detailed video...
As a result of doing so, you may find that they will naturally benefit your rankings.
The Google Hummingbird Update
In September 2013, Google unleased what they call The Hummingbird Update which means Google is now getting better at handling longer, more detailed queries.
They are also starting to understand the user's intent behind a search instead of just reading the keywords.
In addition, Google is building their own knowledge base and providing answers to queries, which means websites that used to be ranked at the top will now be beat out by Google's own results.
How all this will impact our websites will depend on the query involved.
The Bottom Line
So the moral of the story is search engine optimization is forever changed. Create websites and content for HUMANS instead of search engine bots.
Build relationships with real people through social media and you won't have to worry as much about where you rank.
If you want longevity for your business, diversification of traffic is a must.
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