What is SEO? What ranking factors were important in the past? What ranking factors are important today? What ranking factors will be important in the future? We will analyse this topic in this article.
The Past and the Present of SEO
The art of SEO as it had become was developing and it was a mixture of keyword analysis, tinkering with web pages, keeping your web server in check and, for ranking purposes, links and rich link anchor text. The early days of google were, therefore, essentially developed by technicians. Technicians that were able to develop good SILO structures, cover the landing pages with relevant meta-data and enrol in efficient backlink strategies.
Are these factors still relevant today_ I would say that they are but they were complemented by others.
Over time, computer scientists build on each other’s work. And this has certainly happened at Google. Algorithms combine with other algorithms to use the results of other algorithms, which in turn produce results for more algorithms. Each algorithm has an input and an output. You put something in, the computer does what it does and out comes a result. But with machine learning, something entirely different happens.
With machine learning you enter the data and the desired result. And then out comes an algorithm that turns one into the other. These are learning algorithms – or learners for short – and they’re algorithms that make other algorithms. With machine learning, computers write algorithms so humans don’t have to.
Ranking signals do not remain static. They’re fluid and change with time and context and geography and behavioral feedback. And as the learner builds around all of this, it begins to look more actively beyond basic relevance to the query, maximizing the usefulness of the search results for the user who input the query.
We really have entered a brand new era of search. And that means a new era of SEO. If, in fact, that’s what it should still be called. The job has changed so much from those early web-page-tinkering days. If it’s time for Google to move forward with new, faster learning technology, identifying so much more about the end user’s information need than simply words on a page and how many links that page has pointing to it, then SEO must change with it.
If it’s time for Google to move forward with new, faster learning technology, identifying so much more about the end user’s information need than simply words on a page and how many links that page has pointing to it, then SEO must change with it.
Today SEO is all about context, content, engagement and mobile search. Who you are, where you are, what time of day it is and, of course, previous search behavior. Our job is less about helping Google index the web 1999 style. It’s less about worrying about the penalty of buying links to beat the competition in the SERPs. It’s so much more about creating useful content experiences on the user journey. It’s about being there in the moment.
Maybe we should be thinking about ourselves as content experience analysts (CEA) concerned more with human interaction and engagement. Perhaps now really is the time to focus on optimizing for humans and not for machines.
The Future of SEO
Context. The move towards understanding who we are and where we are will continue. Google is constantly updating its algorithm in order to be closer and closer to the enquiry that is searched. This is the core of google work. And this trend will continue.
Mobile. Of particular importance is the role that mobile will play in the future of SEO. Searches made on mobile devices are increasing at an exponential rate when compared with computers. And google is increasingly concerned with this trend and incorporating it in its search results relevance. Context in this sense means where we are.
Content. Content is king because it is the most relevant factor in showing to google how a user is liking or disliking a particular query. The time spent on a particular page and the capacity of the writer to produce well developed and engaging content lies at the heart of recent transformations and will continue in the future.
Engagement. By engagement we mean the responsiveness that a particular article or blog has. This is crucial in google’s eyes to rank websites nowadays and it will certainly remain important in the future. Of particular importance here are social signals.
Backlinks. Engagement and backlinks go hand in hand. Building backlinks will always be relevant and it will always be a relevant ranking factor.