Search engine optimization is constantly changing and evolving. The important ranking factors of ten years ago are not exactly the same as they are today, and those changes stem from how Google goes about accomplishing their goal of satisfying user intent. In order to accomplish this goal, Google needs to do two distinct things:
- Be able to accurately understand a searcher’s intent.
- Use that understanding to deliver high quality content that satisfies the searcher’s needs.
If Google isn’t able to do these two things effectively, they risk losing searchers to one of their competitors. And Google’s competitors aren’t just Bing and Yahoo. Amazon, Facebook and even texting a friend with a question qualify as Google’s competition.
Language can be hard to understand for humans and even more troublesome for machines, but Google has heavily invested in technology that lets them better understand it. In 2013, we saw Google introduce the Hummingbird update which was their first foray into semantic search. Since then, Google has been hard at work to better decipher user intent especially when it comes to long-tail search queries. You may have personally noticed how much better Google has become at delivering accurate results to your search queries over the past few years.
In 2011, Google rolled out the Panda update to its algorithm. Panda was designed to be able to accurately mimic how human evaluators judge websites for quality. Since then, Google has continued to improve its ability to evaluate which pages have the content most likely to satisfy a user’s needs.
We can only assume that Google will continue to improve upon its ability to judge the quality of content on pages in their search engine results pages (SERP’s).
What Does This Mean for SEO?
Creating unique, high-quality content has long been the goal of SEO’s the world around, and this goal will only grow in importance as Google improves upon its understanding of language. As does this, you will need to change how you judge what makes content high-quality. Since Google is focused on satisfying user intent, that also should be the focus of your SEO.
It’s time to reevaluate how optimal your landing pages really are. Make sure the most important product or service information can be easily found and is written in clear, concise language. Make sure that your website portrays a good sense of professionalism and authority. Do some research as to what information your customers most want to learn from you and present that information in a way that is precise and easy to find.
Look at Your Competition
Keeping track of what your competition is doing is vital and should always inform your SEO and digital marketing strategy. Take a look at your top competitors’ sites. What are they doing well? Where could they use some improvement? Use the answers to these questions to formulate a plan to provide a better user experience than those with whom you are vying for visitors. Don’t forget that SEO has always been competitive by nature.