When Google was founded in 1998, its search engine had a pretty simple algorithm (simple by today’s standards) to provide search results to users. All it looked at was matching queries in web pages against a given query by a user. It also counted backlinks (inbound links to web pages) as an upvote. The more upvotes you had, the better you would rank.
Yes! It was that simple. If you wanted to rank your website to the top back then, all you had to do was put exact match words or phrases in your website, and voila! You were at the top.
It has been almost 2 decades since it worked that way. And during these two decades, we saw a lot of changes in the way Google sorts web pages. A lot of changes indeed.
Back in 2014, Tim Berners-Lee (You know him, right?) tweeted about a milestone of the World Wide Web! It consisted of 1 Billion websites.! And it has already been 7 years since that tweet already. Today there are around 1.5 Billion websites. What does this mean?
This means a tremendous amount of information is already there and to give users what they are looking for requires a much more complicated and efficient ranking algorithm than just the one that counts, you know, links! Ahem!
Can you guess what else changed? It’s you!
Yes, it’s you! User. User search behavior has changed. We are no longer looking for websites that contain the words that we type in the search bar. We are now looking for instant answers, locations, places, calculation answers, quick maps, and much more. The way we use the web has fundamentally changed. And the way Google serves the results has also changed, for good of course!
Stuff on the internet has changed. It is no longer text only. There are videos, images, GIFs, Web apps, yeah! Stuff like that. Oh, wait, PODCASTS!
We are looking for new things and ideas. Read this, 15% of the queries that Google receives every day are not seen before. They are completely new. The search algorithm has to evolve and be much better than it was just a few days ago. Google says that it changes its search algorithm 6 times per day! Yeah, now read that again! Here’s the thing, to launch those changes, they do around 200,000 to 300,000 experiments. Big deal, right?
Despite this, Google has every time served results and answers that satisfy us. The ones, which we were looking for. No matter how we search and what combination words we use. How did Google’s algorithms become so good at it?
The rise of artificial intelligence! Google spends a tremendous amount of resources on Machine Learning research and one particular area which has made search engines so good is Natural Language Processing!
Natural Language Processing is something that enables machines to understand language as a normal human would do! That’s quite amazing, right? With this, Google is able to connect words with concepts. Now, whenever you search something, Google is no longer looking for websites that contain the same words which you typed, it is looking for what you actually meant with that search and what will answer your query. Why? Because, again, Natural Language Processing! To give some homework, study about BERT and DeepRank, but not now, later!
Paying our respect to one of the men who contributed a lot to Google AI, Geoffrey Hinton.
So Google’s search engine evolved a lot and it only gets better as it gets. This caused problems for the guys doing the Search Engine Optimisation. I mean, us. But, what problems?
The way Google serves results has changed. A few years ago, it gave us a bunch of 10 links to the websites we were looking for.
But today there is a lot more. There are rich snippets, image carousels, videos, product items, knowledge panels, local packs, FAQ sections, and a lot more. Sorry, maps also!
Google started to give users what they were looking for right on the search results page without the user having to go to the particular website. See the problem?
If you go to google.com and type in “Top 10 cities in the world”, you are probably going to see the list right on the result page. Now if you already got the list, why would you even care to open the website that provided that list?
We call such searches zero-click searches. Because, well, you did not click on any website link to get your answer.
See the below image.
50.33% of Google searches in 2019 ended up as zero-click searches!
Here is the same deal, Mobile Zero Click searches are only increasing.
So, you have a website and you are publishing valuable content? This trend should worry you. Users are not just coming to our websites.
This is the problem I was talking about.
Of Course, there are other problems as well like Google’s algorithm changes and updates that just make work difficult for SEO pros!
Writing content and putting keywords in it and hoping for it to rank? We are sorry, it doesn’t work that way now.
Getting low-quality backlinks from few websites for your website and hoping to rank it? Again, we are sorry. These things have been dealt with by Google Algorithms a long time back. Truly, we mean it!
So, let’s wind up SEO?
It is there and it will be as long as there are people who are searching for information until Elon Musk puts a chip of Wikipedia into brains! No, we are serious.
Only the approach to SEO needs to be changed with changing dynamics of search engine results. Our team at SerpUpLift has come with this modern and conversion-centric approach to SEO – Modern Approach To SEO.
We increasingly focus on serving web pages to users that provide the conceptual understanding of whatever they are looking for. Rather than sparsely embedding keywords here and there, we instead focus on creating a conceptual and topical theme for the website.
A theme that defines the topical relevance of the website. What this means is that even a small piece of content on the website fits in perfectly with the rest of the website.
How does this help us with search visibility? Well, as you might have guessed, search engines now work that way. They look for concepts and valuable forms of content that actually help searchers rather than trying to find websites that use exact match keywords in their content.
We use a slightly different approach to keywords. We use them to guide us towards developing website content. Though, we might not focus on using them without context.
Using the same keyword 4 times in a 200-word paragraph is not something we appreciate. And using the ‘cheap dog food’ keyword in content that talks about dog breeds is something we don’t look up to either.
Because ‘cheap dog food’ has a different context than dog breeds.
Google might not send all clicks to our website!
But that’s not what we want.
We use SEO to build brands.
And people search for brands, always!
How do we use utilize SEO for brand building?
We, at SerpUpLift, call it Multi-Step SEO Funnel Strategy.
Here’s how a simple user’s journey to buying something looks like.
First, he gets awareness about the product followed by interest, and then finally he buys it – call it action!
So, we have three levels in the funnel. Call it steps a user takes to purchase something. What if our brand or website is visible to users at every step?
That would be cool and he will be more likely to purchase from us.
We start with keyword research that targets users in each of the above three categories. We make sure whatever the buying stage user is currently in, we will be visible to him.
As our brand follows users along the complete buying journey, it builds trust and gives our brand higher appealing power.
In the awareness stage, a user is looking for information about a product or a service. Modern SEO should enable business owners to reach out to consumers in that stage.
In the consideration and action stage, the business can’t afford to be invisible to the user in that stage as he is more likely to buy.
Our approach involves reading the data. Extracting any kind of pattern and getting useful insights.
The aim is to optimize for conversions and digital analytics enables us to do so.
Data is the key and it is more useful than ever. The modern approach to SEO should be guided by data and analytics.
If you want us to work for you, then give us a call. We are ready to upscale your business.
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