In case you haven’t noticed, search results have been in a state of flux for the past week for competitive keywords in Google. For many SEO’s its back to the drawing board as SEO results are being challenged by personalization, GEO targeting and unexpected anomalies as Google essentially split tests the SERP (search engine result pages) with new a unique weighting algorithm. Could the recent update be due to Google shoring up relevance due to the introduction of Microsoft’s new search engine Bing? or is it just another shift for the better? (after the search results settle).
It is inevitable that (eventually) all that we know will change, yet, is the SEO industry ready to embrace the fact that dated axioms may fall flat (along with the search results they support) in the face of domain authority or other unknown or recently introduced metrics? This is nothing new for SEO, as staying ahead of shifts in relevance are crucial to remain visible in the search engine result pages.
Typical benchmarks used for enhancing search engine position were:
- Term Frequency
- Peer Review (off page popularity)
- User Engagement Time
- Bounce rate / user satisfaction rate
- Co-occurrence (theme density)
- Domain Age
- Page Load Time
- Post Frequency (for new content).
- Internal linking
Yet, who knows (aside from Google) which new metrics are being introduced or weighted to reflect how search engine result pages are restructured. With relevance as the mantra and fickle surfers abroad, many business owners are looking at Bing as an SEO alternative for increasing organic search engine traffic.
Although Bing is “a breath of fresh air”, many surfers remain loyal to Google for stability and consistent relevant results. Not that we can complain as our website is #3 for SEO in Bing along with other notable trophy top 10 rankings such as #1 for SEO consulting, #2 for search engine optimization services and in the top 10 for search engine optimization company, but we know that for now, Google traffic is crucial for most businesses online, especially if you rank in the top 10 results for your primary keywords and key phrases such as we do for the keyword “SEO”.
There is nothing like a shift in Google’s search algorithm to make CEO’s businesses (both large and small alike) stand up and pay attention to the metrics of who, what, where when and how, and how their online ROI and traffic are affected.
Those who depend on a new stream of visitors as a result of organic rankings know there is nothing like editorial rankings from natural search results. Particularly when you can enhance them systematically as a result of structuring fresh content, building internal links and attracting links from a variety of sources.
Nothing like reinforcing the PPC model with a ripple of change, but what happens if SEO types spend too much time focusing on rankings and not enough time focusing on conversions? Traffic is nice, but conversion pays the bills.
Similarly, with the dependency model shifting less from search engines to people finding and sharing resources with social media such as Twitter, Google and other search engines need to stay ahead of the curve to keep their percentage of market/attention share healthy and rooted with firm results.
The motto of “just in case” has never had more emphasis than today. It’s not what search behavior exists at present that matters so much as it is about creating a robust site with multiple topical appendages so that anyone searching for products or services in your niche, should find a relevant landing page supported by educational, editorial or engaging content to satisfy the needs of various type of traffic.
The bottom line is, change is inevitable and your competitors are not just going to just “go away” and let your landing pages rise to the top of search results unchecked. With the competitive landscape always under the watchful eye of those who would exploit it, search engines must adapt and weed out any attempts to inflate relevance by automation or unethical means.
Unfortunately, that means that many who held top rankings for various competitive keywords may see rankings take a dip as new algorithms are ushered in to assess and reevaluate the supporting metrics responsible for distancing them from their competition. Danny Sullivan chief editor and founder of Search Engine Land discusses in great detail many of the changes that are currently rippling throughout the Google algorithm. One in particular is the Google losing backward compatibility on the use of page rank sculpting and the use of the no-follow tag.
With one perspective it is leveling the playing field and giving way to other websites which may or may not be more relevant, but like all things you have to test, test and retest the relevance model to ensure that in the end quality is resolute.