Google processes more than 40,000 search queries every second and sifts through 20 billion websites a day to find information that it can turn into results. Search engine optimization (SEO) dictates where the information (website) ranks among the virtually endless search results. Google has changed the SEO game, however, so to maintain or increase your website’s visibility, it’s imperative you understand how the search engine powerhouse now works.
Google has released a number of new algorithms since 2011 – Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird – each designed to provide users with better information faster. Although Google has held its cards close and not publicized exactly how it now operates, below is what we do know has changed:
Before, SEO was a game of smoke and mirrors. The highest search results might have had the top search word(s) on the page, but they were often not the most relevant content from the most reliable sources. The websites with the most traffic attracted visitors solely because of their placement on the search results page, not because of the content it provides.
Now, Google calls for comprehensive information. It’s no longer just a keyword-stuffing gimmick. In fact, in 2013, Google stopped providing data about keyword popularity to avoid the skewed results. Its latest algorithms are not deceived by websites packed with keywords, duplicated content and manipulated hyperlinks, but instead recognize them for what they are.
Before, there were “content farms” and “scraper sites.” “Content farms” are websites with shallow or low-quality content. “Scraper sites” pull content from other sources. The creators of these websites, according to Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan, identify popular searches in a particular category and then spend as little time and money as possible to generate content specifically tailored to those searches.
Now, Google rewards the creator. It now targets the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that “scraped” or copied it. This means websites that spend the time to generate and produce new, relevant information are rewarded with higher rankings on the search results page.
So, what does this all boil down to? The more original, inclusive and well-written your content is, the more likely Google will pick your website out from the masses.