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Google Shakes Up SEO

Google’s vision for a search engine is coming to fruition, changing how SEO works and resulting in a more relevant and functional search experience for everyone.

Google’s quest to organize the internet began in 1996. As a text-based search engine, it made sense that content should determine a website’s ranking. However, black-hat spammers soon found ways to exploit Google’s search algorithm by keyword stuffing their way to the very top of the search rankings using scripts. This negatively affected the user experience for everyone and also hurt Google’s bottom line.

RankBrain changes tactics

In today’s search marketing environment, these black-hat tactics no longer work and you could argue that old-school SEO tactics are completely dead.

The final nail in the coffin came from Google’s RankBrain, which is a machine-learning ranking factor now equally as important as links and content. Machine learning is artificial intelligence that adjusts without the need of human interaction. Because of RankBrain, Google has created a better search experience for the end user.

RankBrain is not new, and Google is so confident in its capabilities that it’s been deployed in every search query. Compare that to a year ago, when RankBrain was used in only 15 percent of searches.

During the last several years Google has started to remake itself as an artificial intelligence company. Artificial Intelligence is now baked into a lot of its products. This will only increase over time because artificial intelligence is the next big thing. Whether you embrace it or not is entirely up to you.

RankBrain cannot be optimized for or exploited. The only way you can appeal to RankBrain is through great content. Google has stressed the importance of content for the last 15 years. What’s considered good content?

Using natural language and making sure a piece is grammatically correct is a good place to start. Standard SEO practices still apply: h1 tags, title tags, meta descriptions, and inner linkings still matter. Keep the end user in mind when optimizing your website’s content and you’ll have a huge head start in getting your website ranked.

Other big search engine news

Google Trends Analyst Gary Illyes answered questions during a Q&A session at this year’s SMX Advanced, an annual search marketing conference. Here are a few other important nuggets that you should start planning for right away. If you want to watch the full video, you can do so on Search Engine Land’s Facebook page.

The next big thing to prepare for, which has been in the pipeline for quite some time, are accelerated mobile pages (AMP). Illyes urges webmasters to start preparing for it now. Here’s a site for learning what you need to know about accelerated mobile pages.

Illyes said webmasters need to pay attention to assistants, bots, and chatbots. Bots are software designed to automate tasks, such as adding an appointment or making a dinner reservation. Bots can handle a variety of customer service tasks that normally would require a human making a phone call.

Google also is working on a mobile-only index that may be used for smartphone searches —  separate from its longtime index. This makes sense as we search differently on our mobile devices than we do on our desktops. Mobile uses currently are part of the one, giant index and afforded the same ranking signals as web-based uses.

There could be more data for webmasters coming in Google Search Console. This is a huge win for everyone as Search Console only tracks data for 90 days. Illyes also stressed the importance of switching from HTTP to HTTPS as soon as possible. Currently, 34 percent of all websites have HTTPS.

Google continues to update Google Panda, its content quality algorithm, which will take months to complete. When Google crawls your web page, it’s assigned a score. After that, it takes months for that score to hit the index. If you end up with a Panda penalty, you’ll have to make changes and then wait until the algorithm refreshes. Google wants scores to index faster and seamlessly.

Google says it doesn’t have a timeline for unveiling its next version of Penguin, which combats websites that purchase links to unnaturally boost rankings. While link farms and private blog networks are still used, they aren’t as effective as they once were. If you create great content and share it through social media, websites will link naturally to you.

For the full article head over to Search Engine Land, where there’s a more in-depth RankBrain article, too.

If you’re interested in a full SEO audit of your website give us a call at 303-860-6050. NEWMEDIA offers a full array of SEO services, including SEO audits, strategy, consulting and execution. Contact one of our specialists to see how we can help, and receive a free quote.