Everyone who has ever been on the business end of a website knows that Google seems to exist to drive people crazy. It’s great for the person who is using Google to find something, and that’s the entire point. Google serves people on the front end, and they have very high standards for search engine optimization. If you want to reach your target audience through organic search, you must first navigate Google’s labyrinth with constantly shifting walls.
Sometimes, Google throws curveballs that even the most experienced SEO agency can’t see coming. Outside of those exceptions, the fortification of Google’s criteria seems to be growing in a fairly predictable way. Google evolves to match the habits of searchers. As searchers change the way they look for information, Google will improve the way they present it.
Based on searcher habits and the way people interact with their smartphones, it’s easy to guess some of the changes Google will make. Experts have been making their predictions, and statistics show that experts just might know what they’re talking about.
Page Speed Will Increase In Importance
The internet has made us all impatient. We’re used to being able to find or get anything in just a few moments. People shop from their phones all the time. Google has noticed what a hurry we’re all in. Page speed has always played an important part in the way they rank websites. Slower websites or websites not optimized for mobile are more likely to sink to the bottom. We can expect this trend to continue.
Even if your competitor is only a fraction of a second faster, they’ll have a significant edge in the battle for the top spot. This is because people have a tendency to multitask. Technology makes it easy for people to do things on the go. People don’t have time to browse the internet for directions or store hours before they leave a parking lot, or check nutritional information before they order at a restaurant. They need immediate answers, and Google is looking to provide them.
The behavior of searchers is very telling. Nearly half of people will leave a page if it takes longer than two seconds to load. This impatience increases incrementally, with the probability that a user will bounce escalating up to 90% if a page doesn’t load within 5 seconds. Making your website as fast as possible will help you overcome SEO challenges that stem from user impatience.
Matching Results To Search Intent Is Vital
Think about how frustrating it is when you can’t find something. Consider the following scenario: you want to know if the premiere date has been announced for the next season of your favorite show. The title of the article you see on the search engine results page suggests that the information is within the article. You arrive, and you find 2,000 words of speculation with no answer. You hit the back button, try again, and the next article gives you the same grief. It’s aggravating, and Google seems to be trying to stop that.
Google is taking a multifaceted approach at correcting what is referred to as “pogo sticking”, where people have to bounce back to the search engine results and try again. An important facet of their approach is diminishing the prevalence of news sites deemed to be less than reputable. If a website doesn’t have authority and credibility, Google doesn’t want people to think they can find valuable, safe, or accurate information there. Another important part of this strategy is utilizing boxes for answers and related questions – Google tries to the best of its ability to push relevant information to the top of the page without requiring anyone to click a link.
If your strategy involves using keyword heavy titles and bloating your article with keywords, make sure the crucial piece of information is near the top of the page. If you’ve buried it (or worse, forgotten to include it), you’re in for a world of trouble. If people bounce quickly, Google will show you how little they think of you by moving you closer to the bottom.
Make your information easy to access. Don’t give searchers (or search engines) the impression that you have information or intel that you don’t really have. People are going to notice when they arrive that they were mislead into clicking on you, and your bounce rate will skyrocket. Make it easy for people to get what they came for.
The best way to get people to see that you have the information they’re seeking is to include it in as many ways as possible. Go ahead and run a Google search for a spot you want. What comes up at the top? There may be more than just text. Sometimes, images and video will appear above the results. If that’s the case, you need to be competing the same way. Success will come from the relevance and authority you provide, as well as the information delivery methods you select.
If there are no videos, infographics, or images at the top of the search results, that’s great. It means you can be the first person to put them there. Move quick but don’t sacrifice on quality. Get yourself there before you competitor creates a strategy to get there. It’s easier to maintain the upper hand if you grab it first.
Google Wants To Read Minds
It’s kind of creepy how Google gets to know people. They provide almost every virtual service anyone would need, and these services work in tandem to create a personalized experience. Google knows what you usually want or need, and they want to get ahead of you. Personalized results, information based on previous service use, and content predicted to be relevant based on perceived interest will be pushed directly to users.
Some of us currently enjoy Google’s intuition. Depending on the type of smartphone you use, you might be able to scroll to the side on your home screen and see a bunch of Google’s recommendations for you. They know what kind of articles you read and what you typically search for. Over time, Google will see which recommendations you open most. Those will be deemed most useful, and content will be curated for you based around the things you interact with most.
Great pieces of content that add something new to popular conversations or hot topics are most likely to be pushed to people. If you want your content to be curated for people, make sure you’re creating things that people who are heavily involved in your niche would like to read.
Choosing highly relevant featured images and concise titles will improve your chances of being stumbled upon. Structured data is your best friend. Including structured data markup in as much of your content as possible will help Google find it and match it to someone who wants to read it.
Start Optimizing For Voice Searches
Voice search is extremely prevalent. It might have something to do with the fact the most people’s cars will sync with their phones. Since cops on the road have almost no patience with drivers using their phone anymore, people are finding different ways to get their information fix while they’re riding down the highway. People are utilizing voice search because it’s hands free and convenient. Most importantly, it’s so much safer than attempting to type longform questions with one hand on the steering wheel.
While voice search is highly convenient for the person doing the searching, it’s a little less convenient for the person who has to optimize for the search engine. People speak differently from how they type. They might be a little wordier with a voice search, and this can skew their query.
Voice searches are likely to return answer box results that the smartphone (or smart home device) can read to the person who performed the search. The goal of a voice search is to entirely eliminate the screen. Google relies on the answer box to provide voice and screenless searchers with the information they need.
If you want to appeal to the huge number of voice and screenless searchers, you need to target the answer box. Getting into the answer box is difficult. It’s highly competitive, and in some ways, better than being the first search result. Competing for that spot will involve a different strategy for every niche and every question. A few things remain the same, no matter what you’re trying to get to show up in the box.
Answer box answers typically contain the question with a direct answer that’s easy to pull. Supporting information comes from short snippets, lists, or bullet points. Start by being blunt and direct, and then provide concise details. Formatting for this type of content is important as well – you don’t often see answer box results that are thousands of words in length. It might help to create a shorter piece of content to land the answer box spot, and a longer piece of content connected with a “read more” link.
Nofollow And Dofollow May Not Remain Important
Many website owners have difficulty determining the right ratio of nofollow and dofollow links. Almost every high authority domain has eliminated dofollow links and replaced them with nofollow links. Many free guest posting opportunities are now paid guest posting opportunities. There’s hardly a reliable method of amassing a significant number of dofollow links anymore.
The shift in the landscape has changed the way nofollow and dofollow links work. Now, almost every successful website is about half nofollow and half dofollow. The end result is that things didn’t really change much, leading SEO experts to believe that Google doesn’t care nearly as much as they used to. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Google has a history of changing things on a whim. They didn’t have much of a choice – people weren’t participating in the system the way they were initially supposed to.
Rather than focusing on nofollow and dofollow links, focus on high quality links. Google has always wanted you to do that. Evidence shows that they don’t really care how a link is labelled. They determine themselves whether a link is valuable or trash. Links on websites with great reputations will be treated nearly indentically to a dofollow link. Links on websites with no reputation or bad reputations are likely to be treated as nofollow links.
Believe it or not, this is great news. It’s one less thing that people have to worry about when they’re building up an arsenal of backlinks. All you need to focus on is quality, and the rest is unimportant semantics. Make sure your guest posts are relevant and useful, and submit them to great websites. That’s all you need to do.
AI Is Getting Stronger
Google is already a little too smart, and it’s only getting smarter. Most people currently regard SEO as a science regarding links, text, and an algorithmic riddle that’s only barely solvable. The only thing likely to stay the same is Google’s “troll under the bridge” attitude towards their algorithms. It’s always going to be difficult to figure out exactly what they want from you. Updates and information will continue to roll out, but things are going to become more complicated than Dungeons and Dragons rules with new additions.
Google is already at work scanning video and audio files for keywords, mentions, and links. When they’ve perfected the art of doing so, everything is going to be different. A link can be a word, or a picture, or 30 seconds of a podcast. Most websites haven’t even thought about focusing on this side of SEO, because it doesn’t technically exist yet.
Start working on this now. Partnership with influencers, podcasts, and YouTube shows is going to become a crucial element of SEO. If you begin now, you’ll be caught up by the time Google’s AI is fully prepared to crawl things other than text. Think of it as a clout system. You want people to recognize you, mention you, and talk about you. Don’t pass up any opportunities for name dropping – even if they don’t seem pertinent to current SEO standards.
This is a great marketing practice and a great SEO practice at the same time. You have nothing to lose by splitting your focus. Worst case scenario, you develop a viral brand with great sales numbers and settle for the number two or number three spot on the search engine results page. Chances are, you’ll be able to live with that outcome.
Focus On What You’re Building, Not What You Want
Don’t bend over backwards trying to satisfy Google. Google is like an unreliable partner – they say they want something, you give it to them, and they suddenly don’t want it anymore. One day they love you, and the next day, they’re ready to break up. Instead of focusing on your relationship with Google, focus on yourself. In this case, self love is creating an amazing website you can be proud of.
User experience has always been an important part of search engine optimization. It’s unfortunate that so many websites overlook it. Don’t think that keyword stuffing and tons of backlinks is going to get you where you need to go. If your website looks terrible and people don’t understand how to buy anything, you’re going to suffer for it. It’s worse when people don’t even realize you’re selling something.
Shift your focus towards building your brand. Make your website great. Create something that people will come back to, even if they don’t need to make a purchase. If your website is home to tons of useful information or free tools, you’re building magnetic recognition. People will think of you first whenever they have questions or need to do research within your niche. They won’t even need to run a Google search – they’ll know exactly where to go. It won’t matter if they’ve been exposed to your advertisement recently if they already have an excellent relationship with you. You think about your best friend and feel the urge to check in if they haven’t seen or heard from them in a few days, and you want people to have the same relationship with your website.
When you spend more time focusing on your brand, a lot of things will happen naturally. People will know you, love you, and talk about you. This conversation will lead to more backlinks and more sharing without you having to put in any additional effort. Another huge advantage is that word of mouth is free. If you get people talking about you, your ad budget and campaign strategies won’t require the same level of aggression. Campaigns can be focused on giving people a nudge in the right direction, rather than educating and informing a consumer who doesn’t know anything about you.
Don’t Neglect Mobile SEO
It used to be that computers were the only way to get online. Now, they’re in the minority. Almost everyone has a smartphone, and most people use their smartphones to explore the internet. People check their phones at work, on planes, while movie trailers are playing before the feature, and while they’re waiting for their food at restaurants. Surprisingly, 20% of online shoppers admit to shopping from the bathroom. They aren’t bringing their laptops with them.
Since most people are using the internet on their smartphones, it’s absolutely vital that your website is optimized for mobile. If you’re seeing a small percentage of desktop visits, optimizing the desktop version of your site should be a lesser priority. It’s almost safe to bet that your desktop website won’t matter that much. If you have to split your attention, spend more time on mobile.
Preparing Yourself For The SEO Future
SEO is ongoing. It’s not something you can set and forget. Things will always change, and SEO requires constant maintenance. The best time to start working towards compliance with the future of SEO is ten minutes ago. If you haven’t already started, you should start right now. Understanding impending changes and analytics can help you preemptively optimize to stay ahead of the game.
Familiarize Yourself With Google Updates
Google algorithm updates often seem convoluted. With the exception of updates like Pirate, designed to prevent pirated content from being circulated, many of them are difficult to figure out. As long as you have a vague idea of what’s being implied with each algorithm update, it’s easy to stay on track.
Common sense rules will always apply. Don’t take anything without proper attribution. Focus on original content. Don’t use black hat tactics as a part of your SEO strategy. The core of SEO is very simple. All you need to do is inject new life into your content and strive to take your measures one step further. You’ll grow at the right pace without facing Google penalties.
Automate And Analyze
If you’re looking to keep your focus on building your brand, you’re going to need to be wise about time management. Once you have a system in place, maintaining your growth and good standing are easy. Since things like nofollow and dofollow link classifications are less important, there’s less work for you to do. All you need to do is monitor your backlinks, watch your traffic, and maintain a posting schedule.
Automation and management tools exist for most of the things you’ll need to do on a daily basis. If you don’t trust automation tools or your needs are a little more complex, hire someone whose job is solely to oversee and manage your SEO strategy. You can spend your time providing excellent customer service, working with your copywriters and marketers on branding, or developing your next product or service.
Boost Your Conversions
The passage of time will only make competition higher. Google has a monopoly on search. When was the last time you used a different search engine? Most people are using Google, and with a virtually unlimited number of ways to find the same thing, you can’t always rely on a top ranking spot for a few specific queries to solve all your problems.
Conversions are ultimately what will help you achieve your highest potentials. When tons of people shop with you, leave reviews, and discuss their purchases online, you’re expanding your reach. Work on your landing pages. If you have strong SEO and great user experience on your landing pages or throughout your sales funnel, everything else comes naturally.
That’s why sales funnels and landing pages require the best SEO. You want people to find those pages, because those pages are designed to turn visitors into customers. When areas of your website designed to drive conversions perform well, that leads to more completed actions. More completed actions means a lesser bounce rate. The philosophy is simple: the more you sell, the more you win.
Become The Best At What You Do
Google seems to care about every little thing. While they’re notoriously nit-picking, there are still a few things that matter to them more than anything else. Content tops their list. They want to see robust, informed, and original content being published on your website. They want frequent updates and excellent content management.
Competition for attention through search engines is blood boilingly high. They need to make sure they’re sending the user to the perfect definition. They can’t do that if your authority in your niche or industry is difficult to understand.
Strive to be the absolute best at what you do. It may mean creating free tools and resources for people. It could be several books’ worth of free, accurate, and helpful information being made available on your website. A tree of reliable links with high authority websites doesn’t hurt, but it’s only one facet of a much larger plan.
If you want to succeed, hire highly skilled and well informed copywriters. The more content you have, the better you become as a resource. When Google recognizes your wealth of content and depth of information, they’re going to send more people your way.
Research your competitors and get to know their habits. After a few months, you’ll have a great understanding of the content they post, the frequency of their updates, and the way their audience interacts with their content. All you need to do is make your content just a little bit better. Quality and quantity are of equal importance. It might take a big team and a lot of manpower, but nothing will trump the end result of outshining the people who outrank you.
Apply The Feedback You Receive
Google treats every user like he or she is their only child. The user is precious and deserves only the best. They’re always going to prioritize user preference above all else. They serve the public – not the websites. The best thing you can do is listen to the users. They might be telling you what they do and don’t like. At the end of the day, what you want for your website doesn’t quite matter as much. The success of business, let alone your SEO strategy, relies on the opinions and preferences of the people who visit you.
If you’re receiving complaints about the way your website works or displays, gripes about your navigational system, or corrections about misinformation in the comments of your articles, you should respond promptly. The internet is quick to correct people or tell them where they went wrong. Believe it or not, it’s a huge blessing. People are telling you what they want – all you need to do is provide it.
Applying the feedback you receive has two prongs. The first is that it demonstrates incredible customer service, which is something that keeps people coming back. The second is that it improves user experience. The better your user experience, the more users will want to experience you. It’s very simple. Think of your users as a group of expert mentors. If you do what they want, they’re more likely to do what you want – become customers.
If you provide an outstanding user experience, Google is going to notice. Make sure you regularly monitor comments and support tickets and develop solutions that will help everyone instead of just the individual who reached out.
Google Is Far From Perfect, But They’re Still Striving For Perfection
Google changes things frequently because they’re attempting to become smarter. They explore as many options as possible, see how websites and users react, and make changes based on the things they observe. Some updates and policies wind up not working in the long run. Certain issues with perfecting the algorithm and search engine results still need work. Google strategies and moves quickly to create the best strategy for everyone involved.
Not all updates work according to plan. It’s a constant problem solving process on Google’s end, and their solutions become conundrums for website owners to solve. Once we recognize what the hang ups are, it’s easy to predict what directions the solutions will take us in. By preemptively recognizing shifts in attitudes and behaviors, it’s a little easier to determine the directions SEO will take us.
It’s vital to keep your finger on the pulse of SEO. There are always ups and downs. You can’t afford to let your website flatline because you weren’t ready to make the necessary changes in strategy. Keeping current will drastically improve your chances of future success in your industry. Commit to your plan, but always be ready to change things up at a moment’s notice.
Do You Need Help With SEO?
SEO can get complicated. It’s a full time job all by itself. The landscape constantly shifts, and it’s often too much for business owners to keep up with. You already have a lot to do. Let us handle the SEO for you. We’re experienced SEO experts – it’s our job to understand the future of SEO and help businesses rise to the top. All you need to do is drop us a line.