The way that you’re doing it might be, while SEO is NOT dead. Does the following describe your strategy? You’ve optimized your H1s and meta tags and you’ve built a few (hopefully white hat) links. You simply sit back and watch your website rise to the top of Google?
Erroneous. This form of cookie cutter approach to SEO — one that equates SEO to tuning a guitar or to following the steps to a pumpkin pie recipe — infrequently works in today’s search landscape.
Traditional SEO is dead
It’s human to need a formula that is repeatable to reach a target. The bad news is that there’s no precise formula to SEO. Sure, there are best practices, and the likelihood of a good outcome can considerably increase. But we live in a world which comes with no guarantees — particularly where Search Engine Optimization is concerned.
Obviously, there have never actually been any complete guarantees in regards to SEO. You should run away screaming from any SEO professional who guarantees one.
But for years, many functioned under the illusion that if we only tweaked our title tags a little more and got just one more link, we would be rewarded with a higher ranking.
So if we aren’t capable to call an outcome from our optimization efforts, do I agree with those pundits who say that SEO must not be alive?
SEO in the traditional sense is not alive. Outsmarting the search engines will no longer be achievable for most. But SEO does still exist, merely in an evolved type.
To understand what SEO is now, let’s look at how we got here.
The rise in search of artificial intelligence and machine learning
Remember how the SEO world was shaken by Google Panda? Some facets of Panda were not difficult to understand — the belief of content that is thin, as an example. But other facets were fairly subtle.
Panda was the introduction to machine learning for many in the SEO industry. Ratings had been collected by Google from humans on the perceived quality of a website based on a set of questions. The engineers at Google afterward implemented machine learning algorithms to expand those subjective human views to the rest of the internet and Google Panda was born.
It’s one thing to tweak a name tag to have a better key word. It’s quite another thing to ask yourself whether the page will be judged as presenting a high quality encounter.
Malcolm Gladwell implies in his book, “Blink,” that humans judge quality in the blink of an eye. These snap judgments, including whether a site seems “shady” or “ trustworthy,” come from the gut level. It’s incredibly challenging to “game” a ruling that comes from the human subconscious.
Not since the Caffeine upgrade had there been such a critical reworking of Google’s machinery.
Most of us Search Engine Optimization professionals have seen the evidence of the Panda algorithm and its spammy link penalizing counterpart, Penguin , starkly staring back at us in Google Analytics in the kind of a leading traffic drop that is organic. But when it came to Hummingbird, for most websites, there was no noticeable impact. But what?
They would not only comprehend us, and it was thrilling to see we were one step closer to recognizing a Star Trekkian future where we could speak to our machines using natural, regular language but also answer back.
But under the covers, to handle conversational queries accurately, search engines like Google needed to comprehend the aim of the query, not merely the words in it.
We had made the leap from “words” to “concepts.” Understanding the connections between the words in a given topic, as well as the meaning behind words, is called semantic search.
” I don’t know what’s if this skill to comprehending meaning and intent behind words isn’t “artificial intelligence. Google Now is just the beginning. We’ll soon be talking to our computers.
RankBrain has been especially useful to Google in long tail queries, which are often conversational and new to Google. 15 percent of search queries entered into Google are new searches never seen before, even today. RankBrain is being run across 100 percent of all Google search queries; it’s become pervasive.
RankBrain is another step in the evolution of the authentic realization of semantic search.
With semantic search, Google can comprehend what an article is about. We see evidence of this when articles rank for keywords that are not located anywhere in the post (or in anchor text pointing to the post). The word “internet” isn’t located everywhere in the guide.
So if you’re able to rank for a key word without having it in your name tag or in any one of the usual optimization goals (such as the URL and H1), how much does on-page optimization really matter?
Name tag correlation with higher positions is smaller than anticipated
In a recent study that assessed one million Google search results, Backlinko found that the correlation between the position for the search with that key word and a given key word in the name tag was substantially smaller than expected.
It used to be important in SEO to have a precise matching key word (or at least close to it) in a name tag in order to rank for that particular search query. What the Backlinko study illustrated is that Google is now significantly better at understanding the context of your page, and hence you don’t have to be explicit with the key word you’re targeting, particularly if your content discusses the associated entities involved in this issue.
It’s all about “entities”
What do I mean by “things?” Let’s take an example. If you have a post on list building, it’s likely that the key word “list building” would appear, but additionally it is likely that terms related to list building would also be there in the article, like “e-mail.” and “subscribers” These terms are important to our theme of list building, s0 it’s not unreasonable to anticipate them to be in our article.
We know that “email” adds specificity to “list building.” For example, it further defines the kind of list (it’s not a Facebook crowd). So “list building” and “email” have a relationship which creates significance beyond just the words. In the search sector we use the term “entities” to describe these “things” that have a significance and generally have a real life existence and associations with other entities.
Incidentally, this may be longer-form content is performing better in organic search today, because the content describes more completely the matter and has more of the associated entities present.
My favorite new tool for investigating entities and associations between topics is Searchmetrics’ new Topic Explorer, which I demonstrated last week at Pubcon in the Complex Keyword Research session. Since Google has gone into entities beyond keywords, we also have to go beyond traditional “ keyword research” into “entity research.”
Today winning at SEO, is not about figuring which buttons to push. Once you have done the technical due diligence to make your website Google-friendly, you have to put in your marketer’s hat and give up the old school SEO tactics that used to work but don’t anymore.
And it goes without saying that keyword stuffing your tags isn’t a valid practice, nor has it ever been.
Instead, focus on the encounter of your website: Can you make it better?
Get deep into the thoughts of find and your perfect visitor what makes them tick. What are their frustrations? You need to solve for the search engine, not for your user.
Your focus should be on getting users to consume and share that content, and on creating exceptional content that is definitely head and shoulders above its rivals.
Content has always been important with SEO. Now more than ever, incredible and noteworthy content that adds substantial value to existing conversations or creates a conversation is an essential prerequisite to successful SEO.