One can’t help but wonder what the future of SEO is, given how often Google and Bing change their algorithms. Contrary to popular belief there is not merely one or two updates a year but several minor and major upgrades, the most profound of which are usually named something creative like Panda or Penguin.
Already in the last several years we have seen the fall of article directories, of guest blogging networks, of keyword stuffed content, and of bulk linkbacks. We’ve seen the rise of social sharing links, as well as high authority sites like news magazines, high trafficked websites, and other nonprofit informational websites.
It is clear just from glancing at the market, that search engines are growing up and demanding higher quality material, penned by writers and not merely by people who know how to form a coherent sentence. Visitors are restless today. They want entertainment, education, and YOUR voice, a unique voice they can’t get just from scouring Wikipedia. The future is definitely the return of journalism.
At the same time, technology is rapidly increasing. We’ve already “lost” keyword analytics, but instead of simplifying online research Google is getting more complex in its simplicity. Confused? Don’t be…it merely means Google is less like a search engine and becoming more like just a buddy, one that can access the Internet in a moment’s notice, even if the user types in colloquialisms. The Google Image search responds to conversational dialog, in much the same way as Apple iPhones respond to voice commands.
It’s hard to deny that Google is focusing more attention on the individual search, rather than the standardized SERPs, based on rigid criteria. With their OneBox experiment, Google is expanding what we know as SERPs, and is instead customizing the query results and the formatting of the SERPs; which some perks as movie times, live stock quotes and local business listings. Remember also that a lot of search engines are moving onto mobile systems, not merely “web” browsing and mobile systems have a greater capacity for individual search results. Google Glasses is changing the way we look at web browsing in general, while the Google Suggest tool types alternative search queries even as a user types!
The proverbial search engine is the consumer’s guide to the web—the world! The final vision may well be an Internet totally disconnected from the PC, and merely a live informational feed accessible from anywhere, ala the movie A.I., with the little dancing hologram who could find anything on anyone. This is almost exactly what the iPhone and iPad do with Siri and the implications are vast when we think about the near to distant future.
Most SEO experts remain optimistic that good content will never be stale. However, more than ever, there is a need to properly promote and distribute this great content and not merely presume that Google or Bing will pick it up randomly.
The lesson is heard loud and clear:
Technology is rapidly changing and we may go through another 10 Google updates that change everything we know about search rankings. What we can’t ignore, however, is that there is a proper distribution system, and you as a marketer have the obligation to learn this system and produce content in accordance with those strict guidelines. Follow the rules and let the almighty search engines of 2014 scratch your back, while you scratch their backs. It’s reciprocity and the more people surf, the more we all benefit.