Over the past year, the major search engines have made several changes to their algorithms that will ultimately change the way we work to optimize websites. Just what kind of changes are we talking about?
- A facelift for the search engine results pages (SERPs). These pages now incorporate more content than ever, including local results/maps, products, news, and real-time updates via social media.
- The advent of personalized search. User input can now alter the SERPs to show specific sites. Users have the ability to flag/hide sites and recommend sites to people within their networks (using Google’s new “+1 button”). A user’s web history can also affect the rankings, with frequently visited sites being bumped to the top.
- More emphasis on site usability. On-site metrics such as site speed and ease of use now factor into search rankings.
- The rise of social media. Re-tweets on Twitter and Facebook “likes” now improve the likelihood of any news or press releases getting picked up and ranked by the search engines more quickly.
- A greater emphasis on quality, not quantity. While inbound links have always factored into your ranking for targeted keywords, there is now a greater emphasis on the quality of those links. Basically, unique content from blogs and news sites now carry more weight than directories and other sites with a large amount of outbound links. The downside is that bloggers have become more aware of their importance and many may require some form of compensation to get your content posted.
That’s what’s changed. Here’s what you can do to adapt to these changes:
- When checking your rankings, use an automated tool as personalized results will often inflate your sites rankings if you’re checking them manually. Also, remember that rankings do not tell the full story; be sure to watch for trends in your web analytics.
- Look into additional tools that will help you identify and target opportunities to generate more—and better—inbound links. We’re big fans of the suite of tools offered by SEO-Moz.
- Integrate your Online Marketing (SEO) and PR teams, with the goal of regularly creating even more fresh content and distributing it through multiple channels (blogs, social media, news sites, etc.).
- Regularly review your site to look for opportunities to improve the users’ experience.
Of course, SEO is a moving target, and chances are by the time you’re reading this things will have changed again—and Martino Flynn will be responding.