Regular changes in Google’s algorithms generally mean having to adapt our SEO strategy to fit the new criteria. But what many of us fail to take into consideration is how those changes in algorithms also affect how people are searching. And those changes should also be a factor in how we approach SEO.
For one thing, search results are becoming more intuitive. Google recognizes your location and provides local search results automatically. It also provides results based on previous searches and browsing activity. Through Google, this information is all connected, and as technology advances, they’re able to use that information to help you get better, more relevant results based on your searches.
What does this mean for you? It means shorter, more general keywords. In the olden days, if you were looking for a particular piece of content or information, you practically had to know it by heart already in order to find it. Searches had to be very specific in order to find what you were looking for. Now, more general searches can yield much more specific results.
Therefore, whereas a few years ago, your potential customers might have typed in “local bookstores with e-readers in Detroit,” now they’re more likely just to search for “local bookstores,” or even just “bookstores.” Google recognizes their location automatically, and can even prioritize stores that offer e-readers, based on the interest they expressed in e-readers in a previous search.
This means that, while embedding more detailed and specific terms into your content used to help people find you more easily, now it may be sabotaging you instead. Of course, you still need to specify that your store is in Detroit, and that you have e-readers and online books available. But stringing multiple terms together will be less effective. Shorter, more general search terms and lower keyword densities are now helpful to your site’s content, rather than harmful.
Google can also prioritize the sites people have been to before. So if the person searching for bookstores that sell e-readers happened to be browsing a literary blog last week, run by a bookstore that sells e-readers, that store’s website is more likely to come up higher in their search. People who have been to your website before are more likely to find it in future searches.
This sounds counter-intuitive at first. Isn’t the point of SEO to draw people to your site? What’s the point of drawing in people who have already found you? But remember that there’s a long road in between finding your site and making a purchase. Even after someone has found your site, having it show up in future searches can be helpful for showing them that you do, in fact, have what they’re looking for.
Prioritizing search results by past browsing activity also increases the importance of posting high quality content to your site and promoting it well. Creating and sharing content helps drive people to your site. And the more you can engage people on your site, the more visible you’ll be when they search for what you have to offer.
Google’s algorithms will no doubt continue to change over time. And as they do, so will the way we search for things. It’s important to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in SEO. But even more important is to keep producing quality content. That’s the thing that will not only draw people to your site, but keep them coming back.