The market never stops changing, and if marketers want to remain successful, they must respond rapidly to all new developments in the marketing landscape.
Few parts of that landscape are more important than Google, the dominant search engine from the early days of the Internet right up to the present. Processing nearly 4.5 billion daily searches, Google provides more publicity than all of its competitors combined, which is why marketers must pay close attention to its practices.
Over the past ten years, Google updates have directly affected marketers:
Raising Mobile Ranks
As a growing percentage of searches take place on smart phones and tablets, Google has responded by tailoring its practices towards mobile users. This has culminated in the introduction of “mobile first” indexing, a protocol that ranks the mobile versions of web pages over their desktop counterparts.
This has radically changed the nature of search engine optimization, as it causes web pages that are not optimized for mobile devices to not rank as high as those that are. As a result, it’s become essential for marketers to either create mobile and desktop versions of their websites or to design each page so that it’s responsive – conforming to whatever size is best for the device being used.
Vying for Voice Searches
The rise of mobile devices has changed not only how Google users view pages, but also how they search for them.
A growing percentage of searches are performed by voice, so Google has begun tailoring its search ranking to the specifics of voice queries. This is subtly changing the nature of keywords. Consumers tend to use different terms when they search by voice than when typing, meaning different keywords are necessary to appear in their results. To keep up with this trend, marketers have had to identify and incorporate these new keywords without sacrificing the terms that perform well in typed searches.
Going Viral with Videos
As video sites like YouTube and Vimeo have grown in importance and social media like Facebook and Instagram have added video features, video has grown increasingly important to SEO.
Google now ranks pages higher in search results if they include video content than if they only contain text. Marketers have responded to this trend by devoting a larger portion of their resources to creating videos. They’ve also taken pains to include keywords in video titles and descriptions, minimize load times, and otherwise boost their videos’ chances of performing well in search results.
Fostering Further Change
In addition to favoring mobile devices, videos, and voice searches, Google has:
- Stopped Link Schemes- In the past ten years, Google has taken the steps to stop sites from adding links to artificially raise their page ranks. Unable to engage in such link schemes, marketers must now optimize their sites so others will want to link to them naturally.
- Investigated Intent- Through the Hummingbird update in 2013, Google has introduced algorithms to determine user intent. It can go beyond the user’s specific search terms and determine what sites they truly want to see. This has diluted the power of keywords and forced marketers to tailor their sites to the specific needs of likely customers.
- Perfecting the Pace- Google was once known for making sudden, disruptive updates to its search engine. Over the past ten years, it’s made a point to introduce new features and rules more gradually, giving marketers time to adapt.