The nature of search engine optimization is in the process of changing radically.
In the past finding the best keywords and adding these to your code and content was seen to the main aim of the SEO process. This has all changed with changes in search engine algorithms and the way that search engines determine the value of a site.
Very simply put, the value of a website or webpage is directly linked to user intent – or the extent to which that website satisfies the intention that the user has when he initiated his or her search.
In other words, the search engines are now more concerned with determining the more holistic intention of the client or web searcher than merely focusing on matching keywords in a search of the text or other factors on the web page. In short search engines have become much more intelligent and more concerned with the larger semantic or meaning picture that a webpage provides for the viewer and searcher. This in turn means that SEO practitioners also have to reassess how they go about optimizing a web page for the search engines.
As the infographic below points out, in the modern digital and mobile search engine environment, the older tenets of search engine optimization are no longer adequate to reach high ranking positioning. This certainly does not mean that making sure that meta tags reflect content and that your title is optimized in terms of keyword research is obsolete. What it does mean is that the line between conventional SEO factors, web marketing and social media is not distinct and that all of these factors have to be taken into consideration. The web marketer who wants to ensure that his site is seen by as many people as possible and that the viewers should be those interested in his product or subject has to think more holistically.
What does this mean?
Simply put it means that a web site has to be optimized for all the factors that a search engine like Google deems to be important in terms of searcher intent. This includes:
- Relevant content. The content on the site must be relevant to or “fit” the intention that the searcher has in mind. Content therefore has become a hugely important factor in ensuring that a site ranks well. Bear in mind that this does not mean that filing content with keywords will do the job – in fact this is precisely what the search engines have been warning against and will certainly get your site penalized. The content must in the first instance be useful for the searcher and should provide answers and insights relevant to the search query.
- Engagement. Whereas older SEO was concerned with number of clicks or the click-through rate, this has changed to what happens after a searcher clicks a link- how do they interact and engage with the content of the site and to what extent does the site provide a useful experience for the viewer, are the questions being asked.
- Social signals. Engagement can be measured to some extent through social signals and level of usefulness of th site or page can be seen by the interaction with the social elements and networks attached to the site. While search engines like Google do not categorically acknowledge the importance of social signals there is little doubt that they form an integral part of determining the value and the ranking of that site on the search engines.
- A more integrated alignment between social content and on-page web content has also become essential.
- What this all means in the final analysis is that the search engines require SEO that is much more extensive and holistic in nature than in the past.