The ever-changing landscape of search engines has a direct impact on internet marketing strategies, particularly on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A thorough website audit to ensure all technical guidelines are followed and best practices are in place is essential, but not nearly enough. As much as a solid foundation is beneficial, it will soon prove inefficient if ongoing SEO reviews and updates are not in place. Over the past few months, there have been many SEO-related updates. Here are a few of the most recent and significant updates:
- Hummingbird – Perhaps the most well-known game changer, this update means that Google now understands the meaning of search queries as a whole, instead of parsing word-by-word. In terms of SEO, this means we can say farewell to exact-match keywords.
- Keywords ‘(not provided)’ – With Google’s shift towards ‘(not provided)’ when it comes to keyword data, the message is clear: Trying to focus on keywords is now outdated and futile. The focus should be on identifying relevant topics and generating fresh, unique, and valuable content. Stop chasing the algorithm once and for all.
- Rolling updates of Panda and Penguin – Initially implemented a couple of years ago, these updates are still relevant. Panda penalizes sites with poor content (duplicate information, low quality, copied, etc.) and Penguin targets sites involved in spammy link networks (link exchanges, link farms, cloaked links, etc.). Clean up or be cleared out!
- Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) layout changes – Long gone is the era of 10 sites neatly listed on the first page of search results. Sites now have to compete with Google Ads, News, the Knowledge Graph, Local Business results, Google Images, YouTube Video results, and Carousel results when applicable. Do your best to have a presence in all of these.
- Google+ – The lines have blurred as this social media network is now the main source of information for the leading search engine when it comes to businesses and individuals. This is the medium to gain territory in all the new elements that now populate the layout of organic search results. The way to do it is through content, locations, images, video, and connections.
The bottom line is: SEO is a process. If you set it and forget it, then you have set yourself up for failure and you can forget about gaining and maintaining better rankings for your website. If you periodically invest some time to look at performance and necessary updates, the reward will be evident in the form of highly qualified traffic that is actually interested in what you have to offer.