Wondering what changes your website's SEO might be facing? Don't worry, you're not alone. Insightful experts everywhere are pondering the effects of brand building, niche content, and Semantic SEO. To these question marks you can add the great unknowns, like Google's next algorithm, or revolutions in UX design. It's fair to say that the more SEO changes, the more it stays the same; and it has always been thus.
Search was always about utilizing keywords to find the solution to your question or problem. Google's Hummingbird, however, redefined search into a more conversational process. This is how most people type a search request. Instead of typing some researched keywords, they will type, or speak into their phone, 'How do I edge my garden?' or, 'What tires will fit my 2012 Honda Civic?' Google's bots can reason the viable data from these questions and lead the enquirer to his or her answer. This is called the Knowledge Graph, and it means that Google is no longer dependent on the keywords alone. Increasingly, Google will take the words and make inferences based on context. This is semantic search, or semantic SEO, and its sophistication is rapidly increasing.
With the fade of common keyword search comes the prominence of long-tail phrases, which are more niche-oriented and lead to greater specificity in search. The more specific the phrasing of a search question, the greater the likelihood of a successful match. If your website home page announces that your company is 'The Number 1 Dealer of Used Paperbacks in New England' then the person who asks, 'Who is the Number 1 Dealer of Used Paperbacks in New England' will automatically be directed your site.
The essence of Search Engine Optimization is unchanged:
- Create valuable content
- Improve your page authority
Yet, today, the driving force behind both of those goals is the more overriding urgency to build your brand. As that article on Website Magazine states, 'Google doesn't view your website as a repository of relevant content anymore '- it considers it an online avatar of your real-world company.' Your current and future clients need to know who you are, and what you can do for them, the moment they arrive at your site. Your messaging must be clearly directed to your website's visitor, for your site's visitor.
This is why an innovation like HubSpot's COS is likely to be such a game-changer. Personalized content, smart content which recognizes where the visitor fits within the sales funnel, will have broad appeal to the consumer. It's the online equivalent of recognizing your customer and picking up a conversation right where it left off. From a customer relations perspective, what content could be more effective than that? The website becomes the marketing agent becomes the sales agent.
Page authority, then, will stem from all the elements of the website that appeal to the visitor.
- Knowing who your customers/clients are
- What they are looking for
- Keeping all content responsive across all platforms
- Focus on how ideas and topics in your content relate and link them
- Build links only with related sites
- Social media presence
It's important to keep in mind that Google tracks what content is above the fold on your site, comments on your blog, bounce rate, session duration, and click-through on their search pages when they rank you. Google has even begun indexing Tweets. If your Twitter account is active and helpful, then it will soon affect your SEO ranking. It is reasonable to extrapolate from that an increased influence from other social media platforms in the future.
Finally, of course, the object has to be to get the messaging on your website right. It isn't about you; it's about what the person visiting your website is looking for, and how you can help them. Your website's SEO will continue to evolve. Don't blink, or you'll miss something.