By Marc Purtell | @MarcPurtell | Director, SEO
The key to remaining competitive in organic search is to always be two steps ahead of the search engines. Given the frequency and impact of search engine algorithm updates, those who don’t consider the long-term effects of their optimization efforts are subject to pitfalls similar to those many brands experienced after Google’s Panda and Penguin updates of 2012.
Part of the puzzle of predicting the future of search engines will take with respect to changes to their search algorithms is first understanding their goals and aligning them with the goals of any brand’s SEO campaign. Google’s mission is to provide users with the most relevant and useful information relevant to a user’s search. Therefore, in order to maintain organic performance, a brand’s content plan must take similar aim.
The other important puzzle piece in predicting how search engines will evolve is gaining a deep understanding of the current landscape and what quality signals the engineers at Google, Bing, etc. are closely monitoring. This allows search marketers to begin to understand the direction search engines are moving toward in further tweaking their algorithms. This direction was much easier to see in the days of Google Labs, which allowed public observation of some of the new products Google was testing – unfortunately, Google Labs was shut downin 2011.
Although the Google Labs project was discontinued, Google gave SEO professionals a very useful clue this year as to where its search algorithms are headed. This came with the leak of the company’s human rater handbook in early September. As part of its internal process to improve search results, Google recruits hundreds of individuals to manually assess the quality of content on specific URLs. Google then uses that data to modify its algorithms and (hopefully) provide a better user experience for its search engine users.
The handbook provides clear cues as to how Google assesses the quality of brands’ content.
By understanding the information Google is attempting to gain through this human-review process, SEO practitioners can begin to understand the direction search engine algorithms will be moving as they progress. (more…)