In the Internet search world, Google is clearly king and marketing professionals across the globe give this tech giant the lion's share of their search marketing attention. Every time Google makes a change to its infamous algorithm, search engine marketers scramble to assess the impact and adjust their strategies.
While Google's algorithm changes often, the company's ultimate vision -- to deliver users the fastest and most relevant response to search queries -- has not. Many of the algorithm changes over the last few years were intended to counteract those looking to cheat the search engine optimization (SEO) system to obtain short-term search result wins at the expense of delivering the most relevant content and websites to users. Inevitably, algorithm adjustments win out and "black hat" strategies, as they are called, are rendered ineffective.
In addition to overcoming manipulative strategies, Google's advancements in search technology have allowed the search engine to function more like our brains naturally do -- meaning more conversational in nature. Most of the time when we head to Google, we're looking for the answer to a question.
If you want to know how to choose the best type of window coverings for your new home, for example, your brain might process this as "how do I pick window coverings for my home" versus "window treatment selection guide," the latter of which follows the traditional keyword format of years past. The former option is referred to as a "long-tail keyword" and it's more conversational in nature, which search marketers refer to as "semantic SEO."
Semantic or conversational SEO, and the idea of Google trying to replicate our thought patterns, might make you a bit uncomfortable; it's necessary, however, when you think of the growing number of searches initiated by voice command (e.g., via Google Glass or Siri). We don't naturally speak in neatly organized key words. That's why the Google team is so intent on returning results that align with a user's real intent for the search, and why we must adjust our search practices accordingly by writing Web content conversationally.
Another vital SEO strategy is having a website that is mobile responsive (displays well on any sized device), as just recently Google began favoring mobile-friendly sites in mobile searches in a big way. Given that more than half of Internet activity is conducted via mobile, a mobile-friendly site is a must have.
Equally important is generating relevant, authentic links to your website from well-trafficked authoritative sources, like the news media. Pitch industry reporters and bloggers on stories featuring trend-setting developments your company is spearheading or ask them to consider your company for a "best of" list. Focus on quality vs. quantity of links. Directories and forums designed with the sole purpose of link building are considered "black hat" techniques and should be avoided.
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