I’m sure the last thing on your mind when your conducting a search query is just how many functions are lurking behind the scenes to deliver your search result. What is certain is that millions of variables, based on thousands of hours of theory, engineering, testing and research are all orchestrated through administrative algorithms to synchronize data into coherent packets of information for browsers, P.D.A’s, cell phones and any other device capable of establishing a connection to the web. How your site fits into that equation and where it appears in the SERPs is based on your understanding and optimization of those principles.
In order to weather the storm of the waves and ripples of search engines, you need to understand what search engine algorithms are looking for, and how to provide the right signals when optimizing your pages for organic search engine results, image based search results, video search or how to structure your content for social media optimization (SMO). Aside from the preparation and the ascent up the search engine ladder, you also need to know how to nurture and sustain your pages to rank consistently “over time” long after they make their initial debut.
Plot your course
One method for achieving sustained rankings and long-term search engine visibility for multiple keywords requires a combination of new content creation, article or internet marketing, RSS distribution, link building and website authority development to give search engines a reason to keep you around.
Tactics such as press releases may be great for short-term “hot off the press” ranking spikes but to arrive as a “trusted resource” in search engines “over time” occurs as a result of the quality of your content and your website. Website authority alone can pull your pages into a top 10 search from just one or two keywords in a query, for months or years to come.
Here are a few things you may wish to anticipate and prepare for:
Who knows just how many beta tests are operating under the guise of the rise and fall of the SERPs, all I know is, if you spend as much time analyzing data, patents or programs as most SEO’s do, just like the matrix when you get wind of a new trend, you can almost smell it.
Not to incite a riot, make a claim or suggest anything remotely out of character here, but, lately I have noticed an increase in the churn rate of the top 10 search results for a number of terms in the SEO industry. There are of course the sites that are grand fathered into the algorithm as a result of pre-Google link days for companies who have established authority, but for the rest of us, it seems that if the wind blows, you need to make sure you have done your link building homework.
Changes in Ranking Factors
In relation to Google, it seems that the dependency on all in anchor queries alone (pages depending strictly on link dominance) are taking a hit and getting the hot foot with the Google Shuffle. According to Danny Sullivan, the transition from a search 2.0 platform to a blended search 3.0 vertical search platform in underway. Call it synchronization of data centers, the Google Dance or what ever you prefer, but the churn rate for web 2.0 or new content is reaching an alarming rate. Then again hitting it while it’s hot is the new thing and yesterdays news is just that, yesterdays.
Is search evolving to deal with our attention span? or is the volume of new content creating waves?
I suspect, this is a result of the sheer volume of new content that is being introduced daily, I think I heard a reference somewhere that 15 million new sites were being added daily to the web, who really knows (outside of a select few) but the point is, as the volume increases, the top 10 truly becomes a coveted sanctuary as a fulcrum to deliver traffic, notoriety and brand status.
Think beyond the #1 Spot, the pole position in Search Engines is not enough
Being in the top 10 without the right message is not enough. Viewer attention is the new commodity, which is quite scarce online as a result of having so many options for virtually any topic. Trip one filter in the viewers awareness that doesn’t strike a chord and “poof”, one mistake such as a typo, “poof”, one grammatically challenged sentence “poof”, too much opinion or not enough individuality or specicifity “poof” and that’s one less viewer you will have to worry about.
As if it’s not enough to have to charm the spiders only to have people click and run or bounce off your pages just as fast as they clicked the link to get there.
Once you manage to appease the search engine algorithms and arrive in the coveted top 10, you can still get churned right back out before you ever have a chance to take a snapshot to show your mother or (worst yet) get bounced from top 10 VIP status overnight as a result of a lackluster description, title or slumping click through rate. Who would have thought that popularity after middle school or high school matters?, well it does, at least to search engines when it comes to content and the click through rate.
Is ranking and relevance engineered (algorithmically) or is it a holistic process that occurs dynamically?
I suspect there is a new type of ranking method being tested, could it be that relevance & popularity are not enough? We have all heard about universal search, but what about something in between? is this new format being rolled out right beneath our eyes?
This probably won’t affect those outside of the SEO community as it is our livelihood to keep abreast of changes as they occur and attempt to hypothesize the next big shift in search behavior or how the algorithm is impacting the search engine result pages. One mistake during such a time of transition and your pages with the picture perfect rankings can go south overnight. Can anyone say “Florida Update”, so, keeping your eye on fluctuations that appear out of context to normal search behavior becomes somewhat of a past time, particularly if you have to explain to a client why their rankings are playing ping-pong with others.
Naturally this type of phenomenon varies by the industry and based on competitiveness for terms, at this juncture it is too early to tell, but it appears that search engine spiders have turned up the volume and went into overdrive recently (especially Yahoo) for cataloging and churning data. From one perspective, it’s like giving every site a second chance, stirring things up a bit to see if people click outside the norm.
It’s almost not fair to see spikes and waves of some of your most coveted keywords pay regard with top 10 placement (for us it was top 10 terms like SEO Consultant, SEO Web Design, SEO Services) embraced in the top 5 for 48 hours, then merely slip away beyond the fold (past the top 10), but at least if you can catch the transient ranking while it happens and you notice a notable increase in traffic or activity, then you know that certain optimized keywords are better than others for niche.
Keep your eyes peeled and keep your ear low to the ground, you will definitely want to make sure you see this one coming. If a major retooling is occurring and your coveted (money maker) keywords are at stake, then vary your links and try to elevate as many pages as you can to stave off minor fluctuations in the SERPs. Just like the skipper on Gilligan’s island wished he would have done, you need to check the Doppler from time to time, otherwise you could get hit by a storm in the SERPs and end up stranded on a desolate isle without traffic from operating on mere assumption alone.