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July 30, 2014

Search Engines — What’s In and What’s Out

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Photo Credit: laihiu via flickr

There’s lots of chatter in my industry about the future of search engines and how Google’s new algorithms are changing the landscape of how business owners work to keep and improve their website’s placement on Google. What seems apparent to me is that the following important trends are surfacing and impacting what we see in the organic results.

What’s In?

1. Search results returned by location specificity. But not only your Google.com preference location that you have set, but by your mobile search history and actual Google recorded locations over time.

2. Search results returned by click-through rate and bounce rate gathered by Google by users of the Chrome browser and Android tablet and Smartphone operating systems. Anything Google can track it is and it appears to be using this aggregate information in returning search results.

What’s Out?

1. The ability to impact search results by building links and enhancing on-site keyword density.

2. The ability to impact search results by crafting title tags and H1 tags by page to try to boost search rankings.

3. Links from social media and activity on social media. Google is appearing to devalue these types of signals, which is a reversal from their announcement that they were using them in their search algorithm more than a year ago.

My Conclusion

As social activity can be spammed just like link building, Google appears to be devaluing these items in favor of location specificity through concrete user tracking based on search history and location. Just try to turn off Wi-Fi on your Smartphone and you’ll see what I mean. In your Android system, Google keeps turning it back on as it uses Wi-Fi to track your location in order to know where you are so as to develop a better profile on you to determine what results to show you. Even if you turn it off, it will go back on.

Keep in mind that Google has now actively worked to tie your Smartphone number to your desktop, tablet and Google account so it now understands the full picture of who you are, where you live, and what you do based on your activity online and offline.

Google is using all this data on you to serve search results tailored just to your needs. It’s all about relevancy.

What Can You Do?

Based on what search engines are valuing and devaluing for organic placement what’s a business owner to do with optimizing their website to try to garner top organic search placement?

1. Build your site and create your content as if there were no search engines. Over time, organic search results will become so unique and so personalized, there will be no way to beat the system in the future. So instead, it is by far better to start now focusing on creating a winning online presence that caters to your local users and focuses on creating your business as an authority in your industry.

2. Look for more ways to promote your business and website in ways other than just in the organic search results. Consider pay per click advertising promotion, newsworthy press releases, writing articles for industry magazines and creating question and answer articles for your local newspaper.

3. Focus on location specificity in your content and on your website. Work to own your local marketplace. Make sure your phone number and address with full location and zip code are placed on every site of your website.

4. Work to connect with local resources like the Chamber of Commerce and other local business organizations. You can participate plus show a link to your website when you become a member. But remember this is way more than just building local links; this is about working your local network and building a location specific base. If you are a brick and mortar store, building loyalty programs with a Smartphone app now becomes incredibly important because Google will use the data from Smartphone users who actually visit your location to boost your results in the organic search results both in mobile and on desktops.

5. Watch the bounce rates on your website pages. It used to be a good strategy to include a lot of informational content on your website to build traffic numbers, but now that strategy may be driving a 70 percent to 80 percent bounce rate on your site which you must now work actively to lower to the industry average of about 46 percent. That may mean getting rid of articles and informational content that had been built before to solely establish industry authority.

Many of the things that search engines are now valuing to provide tailored organic search results are simply not scammable. It is becoming very difficult to garner search placement based on a strategy of serving content to please search engines. Instead, I recommend the tactic of becoming meaningful to your location specific users and supplement national visibility with pay per click advertising.


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Nancy McCord is the founder and President of McCord Web Services LLC which provides blog writing services, Twitter and Facebook status updates, and Google AdWords account set up and management. Since 2001, Nancy McCord has developed a reputation as an expert on Google AdWords and how to use social networking for business. You can visit Nancy and her firm at www.McCordWeb.com. Connect with +Nancy McCord at Google+, @mccordweb on Twitter and on Facebook.

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