There is a great deal of disagreement on what are flaws in Google's algorithms..
I have many points of discord with Google, and anyone who reads my posts here would certainly never take me for a "fanboi" ..( if they actually read accurately, which many don't )..but as regards this latest round of algos..
I tend more towards the "they got it broadly correct" this time with these re EMDs, Panda 20, and Images..
Yes, there is some collateral damage..but I also hear cries raised from those whom I would have expected to get hit..particularly re images that actually belong to others..as someone who makes images, I can only approve of any moves by any search engines to de rank image scrapers..
I would now like the search engines to move on to de ranking or removing entirely pinterest et al..I won't be holding my breath though..
Why does all the SEO of the future seem to require that Google be there?
There is the chance that Google won't. No company is to big to fail. Altavista/Excite didn't see Google coming and Myspace didn't see Facebook coming. Maybe there is someone waiting in the wings that Google doesn't see coming.
In a very timely (for this thread) session from SMX East, Bing Search engineer Duane Forrester offers an article with the title SEO has a future - just be ready to learn [bing.com].
Forrester presents several ideas we haven't touched on squarely in this discussion so far:
|Responsive design |
With the advent of tablets and smart devices, it's critical you understand how your site appears across those experiences... Today, many sites sense if the visitor is on a mobile device and pivot to the m. version of the site. Trouble is, many of those experiences sacrifice showing some content for a sleeker design. This can kill your credibility with visitors.
|Structured Markup |
Marking up your content not only helps us understand the content better, but it also helps you in the SERPs. As rich features become more commonplace in the search results, it's this marked up content that will be included. Recipes are a great example of this.
|User Experience & Social |
If you haven't invested in usability testing, it's worth it. Usability testing can be eye opening. It can help you see your site, content, navigational structure, etc. in an entirely new light.
I like your idea. But sometimes companies get so big they stick around a long time like Microsoft or Yahoo. Bing and Yahoo don't have a big enough piece of the search pie to threaten Google, and aren't making any moves.
I'd like to see Facebook fail before Google. Google is nimble enough to adapt, unlike MSN/Yahoo, despite its size. Google is pretty quick to shut down things that don't work, and move on to something else.
I think the future of SEO for Google should focus on Social. It's the new Accountability System.
@potentialgeek I agree with that Google needs to focus on social but there is only one problem they really suck at it. G+ is Google's 6th attempt at a Social platform and it sucks. They got a 100 million users but only 10 million active users and most of them wouldn't use it if they could get their mugs into the serps by using Facebook.
Google is nimble but being nimble doesn't always translate into success.
personally I don't like Facebook but I am glad they are around. I would hate for Google to monopolize yet another internet niche.
Personally I would love to see Facebook come out with a decent search product just to give G a shakeup and a scare.
Most of us live in a capitalist society and such we should be encouraging competition.
Look out for Apple, too - Google certainly does!
However, it seems to me that most if not all of the ideas in this thread will be factors that ANY succesful search engine of the future will be looking at. And if Apple succeeds with Siri's "one answer" search result, then SEO becomes a very strange thing to contemplate.
|And if Apple succeeds with Siri's "one answer" search result, then SEO becomes a very strange thing to contemplate. |
Siri is not only strange but scary. It is bad enough that we all fight over the top 10 positions with aspirations of dominating position 1.
Imagine when you have to dominate that position 1 just to get any traffic at all?
If Siri controls websearch in the future, the web will be a very different looking place indeed.
Value (From user's perspective) + "atomization" of inbound traffic (Ask Justin Sanger) with focus on "traffic that converts" (Ask anyone who understands "conversion optimization").
That's ALL any SE hugger will EVER need to know. No kidding. That's the present and/or inevitable equation for business survival in the virtual/click traffic world. You can stop researching, reading, whatever: Perceived Value + Traffic Atomization (relevant link diversity, reference diversity) + Conversion (traffic targeting optimization + destination/landing page optimization) Science.
Full stop! IF SEs aren't focused on value to users they will fail. Ditto you. If you aren't focused, like a laser beam, on conversion optimization/metrics YOU will lose out to competitors who get it.
But many/most of you won't. You'll keep looking for the (latest) answer. Keep chasing the algo. Adjusting. Tweaking. Changing. Consulting. Chasing your perception of the ramifications of the latest algo tweak, filters, etc.
"That" Yoda said "is why you fail". :-/ [youtube.com ]
|And if Apple succeeds with Siri's "one answer" search result, then SEO becomes a very strange thing to contemplate. |
I don't think I'd worry about Siri as it exists today, it's an experiment, a toy. It's also a mobile thing and definitely not going to impact all aspects of search. I think eventually we're going to see a solid split in mobile vs. non-mobile search, that they'll become two different beasts because one size cannot fit all.
If technology like Siri is to become truly viable it won't be able to simply take the first result and assume it's the correct result. The preferences of the individual will need to be taken into account plus crowd sourcing the preferred results as the most popular result isn't always the first result shown.
When you truly have crowd sourced search results trends will emerge that certain types of people with certain interests will pick certain results and I believe search will be specifically tailored to those groups. Whether or not you know which group you're in or how to address a group via SEO will be the real trick in the future.
I have a sneaking suspicion Google could already do this today if they wanted to or are real close to being able to do it. When it happens it'll be a completely disruptive event to SEO as we know it. At that point SEO, if it's still even possible to do, will be so complicated most will probably throw in the towel and go social all the way.
If there's one thing I've learned this years, it's that focusing on visitors and not on SEO will NOT cut it. That's what I was doing when one of my sites got Penguinized. A few people have looked at that site, and all the theories advanced about why it got hit had to do with things that were far from obvious to me - either as a webmaster or as a sensible and intelligent human being. (And not one person who looked at my site has mentioned backlinks as the problem - my link profile was hands-off from the start.)
I won't say Google is wrong if it Penguinized my site for the reasons suggested, but I will say that I've done my best to comply with the webmaster guidelines as I understood them while I focused on my visitors, and it wasn't good enough.
|I think eventually we're going to see a solid split in mobile vs. non-mobile search, that they'll become two different beasts because one size cannot fit all. |
Hmmm... that's what Responsive Design is supposed to address. Have you looked into that, even just a little bit?
|it's that focusing on visitors and not on SEO will NOT cut it. |
Absolutely right. The basic foundation of traditional SEO still will matter. It's just that they will not be enough on their own, either. These new factors ARE a way to optimize your search rankings, layered onto old school Information Retrieval science.
|Hmmm... that's what Responsive Design is supposed to address. Have you looked into that, even just a little bit? |
I'm using responsive design and RWD [en.wikipedia.org...] won't strictly solve your mobile issues because what people need when mobile may often vary wildly from what they need when sitting at a desktop. I'm talking about potentially seeing entirely different results not merely different layouts.
I go mobile often and the mobile search experience is currently bolted on top of the existing search which does a passable job but is hardly optimized for what it should be doing.
Thanks for your further comments, Bill. They are illuminating.
I also appreicate the rest of your earlier post:
|When you truly have crowd sourced search results trends will emerge that certain types of people with certain interests will pick certain results and I believe search will be specifically tailored to those groups. Whether or not you know which group you're in or how to address a group via SEO will be the real trick in the future. |
Does anyone have other approaches to "Next Generation SEO" - or insights/comments/questions about the ideas above?
Yes, localize your focus. There is one golden rule that will never be broken and that is the fact that as SEOs adapt with their tactics and strategies so will google to counter-balance the results. Google has an image of what the web should be and, unfortunately, if your view differs you are left behind.
SO - sharpen your focus on YOUR site vs the immediate competition and "do it better" than them. When your site is better than theirs let the world know it via social or forums or advertising or even on a big ol' bullhorn if that's what your budget allows. If the world agrees that you DID do it better Google will concur. That's the only next generation Google will allow, for long anyway. There will always be tricks and an edge to find but as people find them Google will too and they are doomed to be short lived.
If you can remember the above the rest is just execution, basics etc. Making your site better than the next... now there's an ever changing challenge! (and no two sites face the exact same challenges)
|If you can remember the above the rest is just execution, basics etc. Making your site better than the next... now there's an ever changing challenge! (and no two sites face the exact same challenges) |
I agree, making it better than the others is what every webmaster should (and I would like to believe that they already do) target.
Currently though it is a very thin line to tread (and it keeps getting thinner and dimmer) with every update like ... Panda, Penguin, EMD, etc.
|crowd sourced search results |
I've been thinking about this a bit lately and frankly, it scares me. I don't mean the impact on search and SEO, but on society itself.
I don't mind crowd sourcing opinion -- movies, hotels, restaurants and such -- that's normal word of mouth stuff. But I've seen instances where crowd sourcing opinion gets in the way of -- and then replaces -- the facts.
A very slippery slope.
Unique content and natural inbound links, get to know your niche market, nurture your repeat visitors. Same old rules still apply...and same old google headaches.... Who of you still remember the "google dances"?
To figure out the future you have to analyze some recent history to see where they're taking us.
The impact of crowd sourcing is already here in search suggestions.
I used to get a phenomenal amount of long tail traffic from the random search patterns. The minute Google crowd sourced the searches themselves and used the most common search patterns as suggestions there was a ton of traffic lost plus the amount of sites that could play was narrowed down as the number of search strings linearly decreased. You could see the impact easily in analytics as the keywords started to clump together and the total number of keywords being used diminished.
What this means is searchers are being funneled into using specific patterns and a reduction of competition because there is less room to play and only the most trusted sites are being given a seat at that table. Most of the recent updates have been attempts to dump sites that they call 'low quality' but I think are less trust worthy to searchers.
In the future you're going to need a trusted site just to show up in the top 10, with high end user engagement and low bounce rate, something sites like Yelp easily attain.
Here's the reality, Google knows a lot about everyone and every site and they call the shots. By doing an all inclusive strategy with AdSense and Google Analytics they have a complete loop of everything everyone does from the minute you start typing a search string, what site you click on and they're still monitoring right up to the minute you leave the destination site. They've said before that bounce rate isn't a factor in the SERPs but if it isn't being used already (meaning they're lying to us to get continued usage of GA) it has to be coming as that's the true crowd sourcing metric. No amount of +1, Like, or reviews says this is our favorite site like the actual time spent on that site. Figuring out how to engage visitors is going to be paramount to ranking in the future.
However, in mobile search the criteria might be just the opposite - how fast can you get to what you need and service the intent of the request as efficiently as possible without long term engagement. That's why I say there may need to be two types of sites that address the specific needs of the visitors based on the type of device they're using and not just use a responsive design to address formatting.
Regardless, the number of sites servicing requests for either desktop or mobile are already being funneled down into smaller subsets of sites. Many websites will drop out altogether because they simply won't be able to compete as they are further and further squeezed out in every update. Many of those discussing this very topic probably won't survive and will be referred to in future threads as "collateral damage". ;)
We obviously can't predict the future nor code sites specifically for what will come, but I'd suggest at a minimum that the next generation of SEO will start to happen by sites making a strong social foothold today. The crowds are already deciding what search terms to use and dictating what sites to pick. If you wait until the future to adapt to what the herd wants someone else will already have your spot and it will be too late. Not only will it be too late, I think when the smoke clears that the popularity of those top 10 spots will be so strong that any newcomers trying to break in will be nearly impossible.
The future of SEO might require creating new branded words just to carve out a new top 10 list that didn't previously exist. Getting the masses to say something new, like Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter, is often easier than making other sites budge for existing keywords and if it's your trademarked term you might get the #1 spot by default. Obviously not everyone has the ability to create such viral sites and terms, but if you can, it's certainly easier than trying to unseat Yelp or Angieslist out of the top 10.
Great post, hope its a good start
Here's my thoughts on the next phase of SEO. This might be a little edgy, but it's the honest truth. I've been in the SEO game professionally for 10 years, I've worked on some huge brands, small sites, internationals, etc... That being said, here's my take and in no specific order:
1. Search will become an all paid model. The writing is all over the wall guys. Local search = paid placement. Sponsored posts, search engine portals (think travel, insurance, real estate is sure to follow). This is obvious based on the reduction of organic results and the current trends.
2. Basic on-site SEO will still work; however, the overall conversion and traffic will continue to fall as it's pushed down. It will be a factor, just not the big factor that it has been to the small biz out there.
3. Brand strength will replace exact match anchor text links. Focus on building the brand. Not sure what I'm saying here, go pull a backlink report on any major brand's website. See the signal there. That's going to be the next "link" game.
3. Focus on users and understand user behavior. What's their intent when landing on your page. How can you retain them or convert that traffic. This has already been discussed.
4. Social will become less and less of a factor. Yeah, I'm going against the grain here. The honest truth here is that social does not convert to sales. I'm sure some does, but I haven't seen a way to say x = y directly unless you are talking coupon codes. In that case, take a look at how the LTV of customers from discount sites has played out. People are tiring of social and tuning out. I think it's beginning to reach it's point of DMR.
5. Mobile is a big game, but I think mobile specific sites won't be. Phones are getting smarter and the browser's better. I think a little CSS tweaks here and there will be enough in the future. Also, mobile apps (already huge) will be the thing when it makes sense. Some form of mobile payments will come along to make this buying process simpler.
6. Referral traffic. Think CSEs and lead gen sites.
At the end of the day, SEO isn't going away. The basic methods will still apply, other factors will become more important such as brand strength, conversion, quality, etc.. I just think SEO and organic traffic will be a shadow of what it once was. That being said, as an online marketer, I think it's time to diversify the portfolio.
@ponyboy96 @incrediBILL - Great posts
|as an online marketer, I think it's time to diversify the portfolio. |
That said, you need deep pockets and innovation to maintain the diversity and skills beyond SEO to support it's diminishing returns, on a larger scale.
Who cares about Google unless its your promary income. Mobile is what its all about now and Google won't be around as it is today in 5 years time as their results are so poor. You will just go to your sites app and forget Google. Name a Fortune 500 company still there from 50 years ago. G is alrady 14
|Name a Fortune 500 company still there from 50 years ago |
There are more than you would think ..still in the TOP 20
Point is users have about 5 - 10 favouite daily used sites. As if the smartphone and tablet makers aren't going to rule the terms in the future and Android will play a huge part and the Play Store. But the reality is 3 billion people in poverty who will be able to afford a cheap eg HTC smartphone(personal computer in their pocket)for the first time ever they are connected.
[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 3:54 am (utc) on Oct 6, 2012]
[edit reason] removed off-topic comments [/edit]
Mobile is already here ..so are apps ..Google is still here..it is not as simplistic as you make it out to be..
People on a dollar a day will be getting one smartphone between several of them, and the cheap ones will not run all the processor intensive code that some app writers are producing..
G will make sure via their licensing deals that they are front and centre on any android devices..someone who has spent a months wages on a cheap android device is not going to root it..even if they had the tech knowledge to do so..anyones dislike -( for whatever reason of Google ) should not blind them to the fact that Google are still waaay ahead of any others in the game..
Apple are their only real threat ..and without the guiding light of Steve Jobs..they may not be able to use their war chest against Google in mobile..Their recent debacle over their unfinished maps app was a major stumble..
Then again they might buy Yahoo..( and it might even fly past the regulators )..but I can't see Cook being able to pull off launching a search engine that works world wide, needs major investment in DCs and software..MS have tried and are trailing along waay behind..despite what they claim in "bing it on" ( which they reduced to USA only, Google are dominant in the USA, and world wide..except China ) ..Siri has promise ..but Google got there first with that tech compared to Apple..and Siri is really crap outside of the USA..
I don't see Baidu going head to head with Google outside of China in the next 5 years ..nor Yandex..
[edited by: Leosghost at 2:22 am (utc) on Oct 6, 2012]
Your assessment of Google mobile is totally off as Google Navigation is probably best of breed and it's fueled by Google local. I use it all the time and it's impressive as all hell. Just ask anyone now suffering with Apple maps. As a matter of fact, the Google car (legal to drive itself in several states) is the epitome of just how good Google mobile technology is vs. the competition.
However, that's taking the thread off topic as the topic is the next generation SEO and I think being positioned for mobile and social in a big way is crucial moving forward.
Let's keep it on topic please.
|Social will become less and less of a factor. Yeah, I'm going against the grain here. The honest truth here is that social does not convert to sales. |
It's been well known that Bing and Google both take note of social signals. So, if the social channels are talking heavily about Brand XYZ and nobody is buying it through those channels, that chatter contributes to the ranking algos.
Since social channels and blogs are the main ways consumers can leave their thoughts for search engines to evaluate, they represent the true popularity of brands in a way that is harder to game.
So it boils down to taking SEO back to its marketing roots. Provide "value" by any means - the offering, service, price, etc. Some of the resultant word-of-mouth buzz will spill into social networks and be measurable. Citations will be more important. Fake buzz will get harder.
I think the good news for the SEO-only guys on this forum is that SEO's future will only get brighter and brighter.
With the current google trend to start a crusade against the majority of the websites - more and more people will need real SEO services if they want to stay organic. Soon adwords space will become so expensive - companies will find themselves better off paying a lot for SEO to get organic ranking, than paying even more for ever-shrinking adwords real estate. Soon it will be like the Super Bowl - lots of companies fighting for a small spot, prices=insane.
The way I see it - most of the ideas suggested and discussed here don't belong to the SEO section, but to the Marketing section of the forum. In the future SEO must go back to its roots - search engine optimization. If you are not optimizing your website to achieve higher organic ranking in a search engine - then you are not doing SEO; social networking, mobile apps, etc. - that's all marketing, not SEO.
There is no next generation of SEO, what has been true in the past remains true today and will remain true in the future. SEO is still facing the following two questions:
1. What can I do to optimize the website itself to rank higher.
2. What can I do to optimize outside signals to rank the website higher.
And the simple answers are still - content and links. You get those two right - you will rank, whether google wants you to or not (manual penalty excluded, of course). There are no other signals that would trump those two. How you will get those two right? Well, that's where SEOs earn their money. Google knows that content and links are the two main signals and there is nothing they could do about it. So they are setting up more and more traps for the SEO, all revolving around content and links.
But the first step will always be admitting to yourself that your aim is to game google. You are not "trying to improve visitor experience", "work the verticals", "stretch the vectors", "improve synergy" or whatever marketing term you could think of - you are simply looking for "what would make this website rank higher on google", simple as that, everything else is just marketing, not SEO.
You know every time I hear/read the phrase "SEO is dead" all I can think is "No, it just got lazy."
There were some great points mentioned above. Many very true. I think that how it can all be summed up is that online tactics and brick and mortar tactics are now starting to line up.
You want to have a successful online business? Look to successful businesses offline.
I happen to be spending this week in the magical land of Disney World. Disney World has held a fascination for me from a marketing standpoint ever since I worked for a rival amusement park when I was a teenager. Did you know that Disney has become the number one amusement park in the world because not only do they "sell the dream", they make the dream happen? And it takes an incredible amount of work to do that. Their employees (referred to as cast members) are given training on everything from how to give directions in the park to how to make a lost child and their parents feel like even that terrifying experience is a positive. They control everything in the park, from what you see to what you SMELL in the park. Under no circumstances are cast members allowed to break the fantasy that you are in the most magical place on earth - even if they are in a very hot costume in 100+ weather and they vomit in the costume. Nothing looks shabby, everything is bright and magical.
Why? Because you just paid $80+ per person for a park (take each park individually) that if you look at it on paper is not nearly as impressive in size or rides as say Cedar Point (who charges around $50). And yet people flock to Disney parks every year, year after year. And Cedar Point is more of a roller coaster bucket list checkmark (been there, done that, on to the next).
For Disney, all of this takes an incredible amount of work on someone's part. The constant analysis, review, improvement. They see the user as a end-all-be-all and they build the marketing based on that. They even take into account the different needs of all segments of the visitors they get (Disney is awesome for everyone from families with little kids to newlyweds to retirees). They stand out because THEY DO IT BETTER AND THEY WORK HARDER.
I don't do much consulting anymore. But I do help out some friends. And to a person, they have said "That is too much work" or "How can I find a shortcut". Well, in the new SEO, if it is too much work - if you want a shortcut, you are in the wrong game.
incrediBill, that whole post was awesome, but this:
|What this means is searchers are being funneled into using specific patterns and a reduction of competition because there is less room to play and only the most trusted sites are being given a seat at that table. Most of the recent updates have been attempts to dump sites that they call 'low quality' but I think are less trust worthy to searchers. |
This touches on the feedback problem we've talked about with perceived authority. People click the top links in Google, assuming they will be good, and that gives Google user metrics that indicate the site is good, so up there it stays even if it's not good. Now Google is taking things a step further by directing search through the completion phrases and so on. The completion phrases are frequently very strangely irrelevant, and now I'm getting long tail searches from them that are also irrelevant to what the visitor wanted.
I can't figure out why they're doing this. Maybe it works better on some queries than others. But the ones I track, it just adds a really peculiar long tail, like this:
"handmade widget tutorial"
Google suggests the same phrase plus "without ropes", "for llama breeders" or "for kids with food allergies." It's seriously that bizarre, and I'm pretty sure there aren't a lot of llama breeders looking for this particular handmade widget tutorial.
Maybe they're just trying to teach people how to make queries more specific? I can't imagine some of these are drawn from things people actually search for.
But whatever is going on, Google IS changing how people search, for better or worse.
|incrediBill - what people need when mobile may often vary wildly from what they need when sitting at a desktop |
I totally subscribe to this. When many people talk about mobile they are thinking "devices" when they should be thinking "location".
When you are on the move you more often have less time so you generally want answers to questions or quick information. This is where Google's "Knowledge Engine" dream and Apple's Siri chick fit in IMO. I would also hazard a guess that more mobile searches are likely to be questions or queries that require one answer.
At home though, how many searches are direct questions and how often do you only want one answer or one result? You have a bigger screen, easier keyboard and most importantly, more time. Most times in this location when I hit Google, I want multiple opinions/options to explore and a much lower percentage of my Google searches are direct questions.
I don't see Siri as useful at home either - much for the same reasons as above and also because many people will feel self conscious talking to themselves or will be told to stfu while the TV's on!
You could argue, based on the above, that SEO will diverge over time but there is a two-pronged attack option: the long-term future of "SEO" in my opinion is learning how to be regarded as an authority on a given subject. Simple as that.
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