How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Google
In the SEO field, a day in the life is typically about staying on top of what search engines have changed or what others are predicting will change. It is a moving target, but it is moving toward a natural conclusion. It’s a complex relationship we have with Google, when either the work you’re doing does not yield expected results, or seemingly subtle changes yield big gains. With online (and bricks and mortar) businesses reliant on 70%+ of traffic coming from search engines, there is a lot at stake to get things right quickly. I’ve used Poker analogies exhaustively before, but with Google it can feel like you’re playing the player and not the cards. What will they do next? What type of player are they – a fish, a rock or a shark? How aggressive are they? Do they bluff? Amid the noise of (very good) SEO blogs, it’s easy to second guess your strategy or run with a tactic that really will not have much significance on performance.
Social Indicators – The Human Touch
I recently considered the importance of Google+ on search. There is not a clear consensus on how important this will be to organic search, so I’m basing this on Google’s positioning for social search results. What I have welcomed the most with Google, is the inclusion of more humanistic search signals and a suppression of absolute signals such as gaming the system with often poor quality links and auto-generated content. Google’s recent search algorithm updates, commonly known as Panda and Penguin, are taking care of business. This video might help us skip along more quickly: Like the android from the movie Prometheus, Google is trying to learn to react to things as we do. Holding that thought, here is what can annoy humans the most about searching online:
- You waste a click if a page loads slowly
- You waste a click if you have seen the same content in multiple places
- You waste a click on a poor quality website ranked number 1
- You waste a click on a website with poor design and usabilty
- You waste a click if the search result information (title and Meta Description) does not match the website content
- You waste a click if the site content is out of date
- You waste a click if the search result is not relevant to your location
Many remedies to these problems go further than the traditional SEO tactics, so more disciplines have to be part of the Internet Marketing toolkit. Today’s SEO Expert must have a well-rounded skills set. Sometimes though, it feels like we’re too much at the mercy of the search giant.
Many people that use Google Analytics are used to seeing the organic keywords report, which tells us what phrase visitors searched on before clicking through to a site. It’s a primary KPI in the measurement of optimization efforts. However, over a year ago, Google made a change to privacy settings that did not pass on this keyword data if someone was logged into a Google product such as Gmail, Docs or Google+. What then happened, was a dramatic increase in the number of ‘not provided‘ results in that keywords report. It’s like Kryptonite to us. Hypocritically, Google’s paid search earner Adwords, does still pass keyword data into the reports. Is this a veiled way to encourage the use of Adwords? Who knows, but it’s an issue that won’t go quietly in the search engine industry. This data does still leave us with broad trends from the organic traffic report, but with much less to work with. Considering how much Google provides the world FOR FREE, we can learn to live with this report as they continue to roll out smarter, more enjoyable searching.