The main game is content content content
Yes, making sense of the changes to the Google algorithms is helpful (though I think this is only really possible by experts), but from everything Google tells us, the main game is now content, content, content. If it was important before, it is now the crucial determinant of your online success.
This is where your experience as a mature professional comes to the fore, and where the trajectory of Goggle intersects with the hard-earned relationship skills of so many mature professionals, especially smaller firms. It is also where smaller firms can use content marketing to leverage that experience into greater word of mouth that elevates them and distinguishes their firms from the more anonymous larger players.
Google encrypts search
Another setback to technical search analysis is Google’s decision to redirect all traffic to an encrypted search. This means that you can no longer determine how a person comes to your site i.e. what keywords they use to get there. This has been a trend at Google since late 2011, but it is now entrenched. In other words, you can find out how many visitors came to your site, but you don’t know what they were searching for. As you might imagine, this is a significant blow to any sort of useful analysis.
The Google Hummingbird update is the latest in a long trend of downgrading the supremacy of mechanical keyword analysis. I’ve written about keywords and how they affect the Google ranking of your firm, but in short, historically keywords have been central to the whole SEO enterprise, and like it or not, had to be addressed if you wanted to be found. For years proper keyword research has been touted as the difference between the rankings of website pages that are architecturally and structurally similar.
There are myriad tools to find appropriate keywords, there are many more SEO companies happy to do it for you. If you looked at SEO a few years ago you would have known you needed a keywords strategy, which would have been either developing a talent for the use of keyword tools or outsourcing to the experts or doing nothing – most likely the latter. Keywords analysis was king – and queen, rook, bishop and knight. But no longer.
Predictably,SEO companies feel betrayed by Google’s latest changes. As one SEO expert and provider succinctly concluded:
For many SEOs, this sort of change might feel like a betrayal of the symbiotic relationship Google has had with website owners where Google makes copies of website content and then organizes it into search results so they can then run ads next to it. In return, Google provides various services and access to data for free – like organic search keywords data. Not any more. (TopRank)
As a smaller professional relying on free keywords tools, and without the resources to look to professional SEO, you would be entitled to feel the same. The Age newspaper’s brilliant tech writer Charles Wright (a hero to writers) calls this “the most devastating of these technology-induced disorders”
He’s right. You might ask yourself, “if professional SEO companies are struggling to overcome Google’s movement away from keyword analysis, what hope do I have?” In that case you would have a point. Wright describes the symptoms of a friend as SEO Syndrome:
Like most people in the grip of SEO Syndrome, his attempts to master the complexities of improving the performance of a website in Google’s search results heightened his feelings of alienation, particularly when he became aware that all his efforts could suddenly be made worthless by radical, and apparently random, adjustments to the algorithms that determine a site’s visibility.
Are you too suffering from SEO Syndrome? Does the thought of more changes down at Google HQ send you running to the bathroom medicine cabinet?
In Part Five I’ll look at the answer to this emerging syndrome, and drugs are not part of it.
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