At the INBOUND conference this past week, we learned a lot about where things are headed with technology and the marketing industry. One of my favorite sessions was on the future of online search.
Will Critchlow from Distilled, an SEO-focused agency, gave us some insight on the latest developments in online search and what we need to do to help our clients' sites rank higher in search results. Here's what you need to know.
The State of Search Today and Where It's Going
Google and the other search engines have as their primary goal to serve up the information that people are trying to get to when they do a search. Today's technology can deliver that information. Search engines don't necessarily serve results according to exactly what keywords were typed in—instead, they analyze a user's past searches, location, time of day, device being used, etc.
No longer is there a single algorithm that's used to determine what gets served up in what order. The algorithm is customized according to the individual user.
It’s now nearly impossible to say why a certain website is ranking over another—and just because one website is using a particular tactic and ranking well doesn’t mean another website would have the same result if it used that tactic.
More than half of searches are on mobile, so content marketing is becoming mobile—your content has to look great on mobile or it won't rank well.
Practical Tips and Tactics
- Build content that’s specifically designed to be shared on mobile. Because mobile is such a dominant platform, search engines won't tolerate sites that don't offer a good user experience on mobile. It’s not enough to be responsive—many times responsive content still won’t be readable, particularly the graphics.
- Create content that's designed to be shared.
How to Rank When It’s No Longer Straightforward
Mix in tactics from conversion optimization. Google will pay attention when people stay on the page and the website, and especially when they convert.
Use discovery. Learn what people like and don’t like. Do market research.
- Do A/B testing with Google. Test things one at a time to see which version of pages Google likes better. This is complicated but worth it, because you will start ranking for what your prospects are searching for!
Although they can seem a little overwhelming, these changes are ultimately for the better—because the more you create top-quality content designed specifically for your target audience, the higher chance you have to rank well. Quality is rewarded, rather than tactics.