Search Engine Trends: Focus Your Search Strategy on the Future, Not the Past
Recently there’s been a lot of panic about Google’s latest updates, Panda and Penguin. Many have been crying foul, even writing that this is the end of SEO. However, even though these changes are fairly large, they’re really just an extension of trends which have been ongoing for some time. As a result, it’s important to track search trends so that you can see new developments happening and anticipate where they’re headed, rather than being stuck in the past and risk losing your search traffic and all of the business that it drives
A Brief History of Search Engines
Back in the good ol’ days, the walk to school was long (10 KM each way, in knee deep snow!) but Search Engine Optimization was easy. Seriously! Believe it or not, when search engines first came about all you had to do was create a few keyword meta tags and voilà… your site would be found (in Lycos or Webcrawler). Of course that was before there were millions upon billions of websites.
Then search engines became more sophisticated and started looking at the actual text on the page, not just what webmasters had stuffed into their meta tags (enter Altavista, Excite and Inktomi). Go figure! It was a very big change and marked the start of SEO as people tried to figure out what the optimum keyword density was in order to achieve top rankings.
Next, Google rocked everyone’s search world by introducing the notion of the value of incoming links. Search result became noticeably better and Google quickly became a household name. “Off page” factors became all the rage and SEO really started to become an art.
More recently, a number of other influences are now changing search more rapidly than ever before. The introduction of local search results has taken top positions and search traffic from organic listings, even reducing the number of organic links on the first page of search results from the classic 10 blue links down to 7 and even occasionally 6. Additionally, the growing importance of mobile search (with their own ranking factors), Google’s crack-down on unnatural links (Penguin and other algorithm changes), and the influence of social indicators on search are all drastically changing the job of SEO professionals.
Focus on the Future
For SEO professionals that have been around for some time, this constant evolution of search factors isn’t surprising, though the pace of change is definitely quickening. Each new development is just a new challenge, something to be tested and worked into your SEO plans so that you’re ready for the inevitable change.
In fact, at Vovia we track many of the main trends and put values to their importance (see graph above). This helps us focus our efforts on the future, and not fall victim to doing just what’s worked in the past. In addition, this also ensures that our efforts are spent on the right things–those which will help in the long run, not just what is working for now.
So start tracking search trends, or at least ensure that your SEO professional has a good handle on them, so that you’re not one of those people panicking after the next big change.