If Google’s devastating Panda and Penguin updates taught the internet anything, it’s that content creators can’t rest on their laurels and hope to keep relying on the same SEO techniques forever.
Google is constantly updating, improving and tweaking its algorithms to make its search tool smarter and more effective at matching search terms with the right results. If you don’t adapt and evolve with those changes, then you’ll be left behind!
The best SEO strategies then need to involve an element of prediction and speculation. Creators need to look at trends and clues and use these to predict the future of search and of Google.
So where exactly is the industry heading?
The answers might surprise you…
Google is Becoming an AI
The big change is that Google is moving away from simple search to become a much more powerful AI. This is most evident when we look at Google Home and the Assistant packaged with Google Pixel phones.
Google wants users to be able to talk to it and it wants to provide them with answers without them having to open up a web page and search through the content. More and more people will be relying on voice search and this fundamentally changes the game: we use voice very differently from the way we type our searches!
When typing, most of us will tend to write the precise search term we’re looking for. For example, you might search:
“Length of a piece of string”
When asking Google by voice, however, you’ll be much more likely to use a conversational tone and that means you’ll be more likely to ask:
“How long is a piece of string?”
How This Changes SEO
So, what does this have to do with SEO?
Your initial impulse might be to assume that you now need to use search terms that sound more like questions. But that would result in some pretty awkward-sounding content.
Instead, Google is aiming to deliver on this ambition by changing the way it matches the content. Instead of looking for precise matches in search terms and content, it is now able to understand the actual question and the context and use this to provide a much more relevant result (most of the time).
This is where LSI – Latent Semantic Indexing – becomes so important. LSI is the use of synonyms and related language in conjunction with classic key phrases. And when used properly, this can give Google much more context while also avoiding keyword-stuffing practices.
Another thing that search optimization now needs to take into account, is the role of structured data. This is content that uses markups to tell AIs like Google what particularly content is about.
This is what lets Google show recipes, times, ratings and other key information right at the top of the search through ‘Google Quick Results’ and the knowledge graph.
Don’t try to second-guess Google but keep this direction in mind when designing your own SEO strategies. Google is more than a search engine – it is an AI.