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Evolution of SEO

     -     May 22nd, 2013   -     Accounting Marketing   -     0 Comments

As many of you know I will be delivering a presentation at the upcoming Association of Accounting Marketing annual conference (AAM Summit) in early June. The presentation entitled, Under the Hood – Breaking Apart a #1 Search Ranking, will focus on (among other things) what firms can learn from others as they attempt to obtain the coveted #1 ranking. As I was conducting research for the piece I noticed a very interesting trend about how search engine optimization (SEO) has changed over the past few years. More specifically I am talking about how much Google has changed the SEO landscape in their attempts to deliver a more user friendly (and ultimately more valuable) search engine tool.

It’s no secret that Google owns the largest market share in the search engine space. Somewhat off in the distance are Yahoo and Bing. Having this unique position means that Google can impact how websites marketing themselves to search engines. Let’s face it if the number 1 search engine changes the way it indexes websites, then every thoughtful webmaster and SEO professional will quickly integrate new strategies to benefit from the changes. So what are these changes and how have they impacted how a site is optimized?

  • Google Autocomplete – According to the Google website, “As you type within the search box on Google, Autocomplete helps you find information quickly by displaying searches that might be similar to the one you’re typing. For example, as you start to type [ new york ], you may be able to pick searches for other New York-related search queries.” This seemingly helpful update significantly changed the way companies approached website optimization. Why? Well for one thing Google is now telling people what keyword terms to search for. The suggested terms are based on all queries made to Google. By suggesting what you should be searching Google is essentially providing the keyword terms for the user. This means that companies can no longer optimize for misspellings, slang phrases or other unique keyword terms that previously generated traffic. More importantly this change reduced the number of unique keywords companies could optimize because users are influenced by the Google based suggestions.
  • Geographical Search Results – In order to provide users with more meaningful search results Google now incorporates their location into the equation when yielding results. While this may create a more user friendly way of getting information from the web, it has significantly changed how websites are optimized. Rather than focusing only on a topical keyword term – 401k auditor – firms now need to incorporate a geo tag along with that term ( 401k audit Miami). Without the geo term it’s very likely the term will not receive a high ranking in the Miami area. So by implementing geographical search results Google completely changed the keyword development and strategy process.
  • Google Freshness Update – In late 2011, Google introduced what it called the freshness update. In an effort to provide users with the newest content they changed their algorithm to include the most recent update. So now when a user searches a term the result in Google shows the last time the content was updated (example 1day 18 hours 30 minutes). While this is helpful in delivering the “freshest” content it also impacts how long a page can maintain a strong ranking. In other words, if your content isn’t fresh you won’t be able to get a high ranking. This is exactly what has happened. If companies are not regularly updating their content Google observes that and shifts search engine results to include companies that are publishing more content. The result is companies are being required to produce more and more timely content to maintain strong rankings.

These are just some of the examples I encountered in my research. While most of you likely don’t go to this level of detail with SEO it’s important to understand how Google has changed (and let’s face it will continue to influence) SEO and website marketing. For more details on the evolution of SEO stop by my session at the AAM Summit. I hope to see you there!

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