Search Engine Opitimization (SEO) is one aspect of digital technology that’s constantly changing. Google and the other leading search engines spend a lot of time working on their algorithms with the goal of providing users with the most relevant search results possible. But what exactly has happened this year?
SEO Is Always Changing
The ever-changing nature of SEO is what makes it so intriguing, challenging, and frustrating. As soon as you think you have a grip on what Google wants you to do, they change or improve something, which alters your entire approach.
While it’s easy to feel as if Google changes up its rules just to stay busy, the truth is that they’re creating new algorithms all the time with the goal of doing two things: 1. Delivering more relevant results to users based on the factors that are most important to individual searches; and 2. Preventing black hat marketers from manipulating the search engine and artificially climbing to the top of the rankings.
Everything Google does with its search engine is based on these two issues and it’s not uncommon for the algorithm to go through three or four big changes per year. By constantly changing factors, the black hat SEO-ers aren’t allowed to get comfortable with a certain aspect and are forced to stay on their toes.
Trends and Developments Worth Focusing On
When it comes to SEO and all of the technology behind the scenes, it’s interesting to study what sort of trends are evolving and where companies like Google are leading it. To get a better understanding of the trajectory of the industry, let’s check out some developments that have unfolded this year.
1. Prioritization of Organic Listings
Most businesses don’t realize the importance of SEO. They’ll devote a ton of resources to paid advertising — usually in the form of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising — but don’t ever make an investment in organic visibility. This is unfortunate, as Bambrick Media points to the fact that 88 percent of traffic goes to organic positions.
"When people begin looking for a product or service, they start at Google and usually, they skip the ads and go straight to the organic listings," Bambrick Media explains. "Given this is how most buying decisions start, SEO has the potential to generate more traffic and more sales than every other marketing channel combined."
As businesses begin to recognize the significance of organic listings, more and more marketing departments are tweaking their budgets to make room for larger SEO investments.
2. The Rise of Relativity
As you’ve probably noticed, Google search results are becoming more and more relative. In fact, relativity has been a big focus for Google over the past few months with search results now focused on laser targeting audiences through the use of long-tail, semantic keyword strings.
“It goes further than simply using long-tail keywords. Local SEO has become prominent because of Google's habit of providing personalized search results,” A.J. Agrawal writes for Inc.com. "This means that two people can search for entirely the same thing, but get two sets of results based on their geographical location. There's also the potential for hyperlocal SEO to become a thing as Google's algorithms become more accurate."
According to Agrawal, over half of all searchers are now using search strings that consist of four or more words to get the results they want.
3. Optimization for "Near Me" Searches
Finally, it’s impossible to discuss changes to SEO and not at least make mention of the rise in "near me" searches. All you have to do is look at the Google Trends data for these searches and you’ll see that there’s been a sharp rise since the latter half of 2017.
“Near me” searches have been driven by the proliferation of mobile devices and Google is constantly working to identify ways to deliver more localized results to on-the-go users. This is leading many businesses to invest time into optimizing for these localized searches.
Don’t Fall Behind
When you think about technology, SEO might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But when one of the world’s largest tech companies pours a substantial amount of its time and energy into a single area of its business, it’s impossible to ignore just how important it is to the global tech community.
SEO isn’t something businesses can commit to for a few weeks and then put on cruise control. Because Google has shown a tendency for conducting multiple algorithm changes per year, you have to stay committed to what you’re doing and pour adequate resources into this all-important aspect of digital marketing. Otherwise, it’s easy to slip into a pool of irrelevancy.
SEO has changed a lot over the past few months and will continue to do so throughout the remainder of 2017. For businesses, the question is: How are you responding?
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer, and researcher. A graduate of Iowa State University, he's now a full-time freelance writer and business consultant. Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and Forbes.com, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter (@LarryAlton3), at LinkedIn.com/in/larryalton, and on his website, LarryAlton.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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