Why Google MUST keep changing the metrics that control search…
… and where they are heading with it.
‘The Google Algorithm has recently announced changed!’
In the search engine optimisation industry, we hear this phrase more often then ‘Licence and registration please’ (Ok I’m a shit driver… wait I don’t even have a car LOL), while you busy corporate types probably don’t know what it means!
Well, let’s change that and shed some light onto this phrase as it can affect your business revenue by considerable percentages! Think of what a hit of 1% – 20% would do for you. Exactly, so let’s read on shall we?
Since Google started, they have been chunking major algorithm updates with release names like Big Daddy, (insert name here), Panda – basically you name it & Google will change it! These updates are not done for the sake of updates, but rather to change up the increasingly different signals that determine relevancy & popularity, and vary the weight that those search metrics carry.
By changing those factors, Google is working to increase the relevancy of their results to the query so it may improve user experience. If you were to Google ‘Bath Tubs’ and get ‘Erectile Dysfunction Treatment’ then it’s not a good user experience isn’t it? (Well, whatever floats your boat is your business heh). It is this project aim that tells us where Google is travelling to in their next evolution.
Before we can look at the future, one must have a deep appreciation of the history of the subject. To do this I will take you to the beginnings of Google.
In 1996, Google sprang into existance as a uni and back then, the rules were simple. Meta keywords, page title & description alone would get you ranking for the search terms that you wanted to. These were simple times. Michael Jackson wasn’t Wacko Jacko, Adam Sandler was still releasing good movies & Yahoo was still a search engine!
The biggest change of the global zeitgeist, would be the advent of search engines that served to find the best & interesting parts of the web and publicise them in a meaningful way, as it was somewhat hard to get to a website without knowing the URL already. Search engines did away with that and thus set up evolution of the way we use the internet!
Jump forward a few years later. Links were acting as the most influential & easy to control metric that could influence ranking (kind of like a vote), content was rising up as an important factor but yet the Algorithm was all extremely to exploit & manipulate – Very much like democratic voting but more interesting!
Buy links, spam content and you’ll rank highly for a LOT of keywords. It was a black hat paradise but not for long. It had been Larry Page who was waiting & training for this one moment his whole entire life, to bring the banhammer down on these spamming twats.
This brought in one of the biggest updates of it’s time – PageRank. What Larry Page didn’t know (and how could he?) was that it incentivised shoddy link building practises by giving a goal orientated element. Buy or build links to increase the pagerank, and conversely the keywords will start rising on their own. For a while, all was well it seemed. In fact, businesses were starting to see a small return on their investment which was nice! But PageRank & the Google Algorithm wasn’t done rumbling yet.
Jump forward to 2007 when I came into the online marketing industry, Google switched things up even more – not all links were treated equally, nofollow started being implemented, Google started being more transparent & helpful with their technology being put to use with Web Master Tools & Analytics in an effort to improve websites across the board, but ultimately one thing was on the lips of every consultant – content is king. A frustratingly bland cliche that doesn’t live up to it’s own message… maybe it does, as it’s effective and on everyones minds.
Since that time, I have witnessed the meteoric rise of social media which happily co-exists with search, rather than directly competiting with it as everyone cried out in alarm. Google – Yin and Facebook – Yang (not Jerry Yang… that’s another story). The last 5 years have been a great learning exercise for myself with a clear lesson – those who innovate and adapt will prosper. Very much so like the theory of evolution, which is why Google needs to constantly evolve in order to serve up better quality searches in order to stay market leader. They have 22 billion reasons to do that.
I’ve been stewing on the above for a while now, and I’ve come up with a few snippets that might shed some light on where Google will be taking their search next….
- Personalised results for video & heavily integrating social media into the results.
- Mobile phone optimisation is the next big thing, and they will reward the smart companies who utilise this.
- Social media which tie into search metrics more and more. The more popular the brand, the higher your rankings.
- People rather than businesses will start ranking more due to push of the ‘rel=’authorship” tag. (I should get onto that!)
- Localised businesses will be more reliant on maps & geographical targeting to drive customers to their doors.
- Consistant and large month to month increases of content, links & social media mentions about a brand & website will trump aged domains as they are more relevant to today’s user.
- Brand building is an exercise that will be rewarded with better rankings.
- Google will start using bounce rate & click through rate as a search / pcc metric if they already still haven’t. I don’t care what their official stance is because it makes a lot of sense to utilise that.
- A bottleneck of businesses will occur on the front page for keywords, so Google will start to innovate their search result page a lot more. It happened with Google Places – It will happen again, but this time on a bigger scale. They can’t afford to keep listings at only 10 spots.
I really hope this information serves you well. By no means is it 100% correct or will all the predictions come true, but it is a little like backing your favorite horse based on it’s previous wins. I strongly believe Google will change their algorithm to take on board those metrics, but again it is hard to say they absolutely will.
Think critically, act progressively and do act passionately & more consistantly with online marketing to stay ahead of the pack!