Think users first
What will the Google algorithm be like in the future? It is a question that is on the lips of everyone in SEO. Previous major updates like Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird have shown what a dramatic effect a change can have on the ranking of your website. By how can you predict where Google is headed and what changes can you make for your digital campaign to be more successful.
Head of the Webspam team at Google, Matt Cutts, suggests in a YouTube video that SEO practitioners shouldn’t try and implement strategies based on the algorithm and instead consider where Google might be headed in the future. Instead of making knee-jerk responses to every algorithm, Matt suggests that you should be thinking long term and provide users with what they want.
Thanks Matt, but that doesn’t really answer the question, does it?
In order to see what the future of Google might be, it is important to first understand the changes that Google has made to date.
The Animal Updates: Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird
Google loves their animals. If it wasn’t evident by their policy of letting employees bring their dogs to work, then it should be with the last few major updates being named after animals. A certain amount of irony is noted that the three animals, usually considered being cute and cuddly, have wreaked havoc to parts of the SEO community.
Panda prevented thin or poor content from achieving top ranking, while penguin helped reduce the spam of links. Then along came Hummingbird which understood the searcher intent better and rewarded well written and targeted content.
Notice something about those changes? They were all designed to help increase the users’ experience online, which is a pivotal key in understanding where Google might be heading in the future?
What do people want then?
It’s the 64 thousand dollar question! The short answer is easy: people want a better experience online. The long answer is a bit more complicated than that, because understanding what people want now and in the future is a lot like juggling a bunch of wet fish.
If there is one thing Hummingbird taught us is that Google loves great content, which is why social media is playing an increasingly important role. Google+, Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of people sharing content they find interesting, informative or entertaining.
In 2012, some of the most popular shares in social media were The U.S election, Gangnam Style, the Batman movie, and a story about a guy turning his dead cat into a flying helicopter.
Even though a dead flying cat is a little morbid, it shows that people love interacting with online media (even if it’s to express their outrage, as was the case with the cat) and it could be a possible answer to the elusive question above.
The future of SEO
Naturally, the main goal of your online business is to better your bottom line, but the way you do that might have to incorporate a more lateral approach. If the decline of traditional advertising can teach us anything is that people don’t want to be directly sold to, they want to engage with brands.
It seems like Google is trying to give SEO a slight push from exploitive tactics and towards marketing strategy. While that might be the seal of doom for some SEO, for others, they will adapt and thrive in the new environment