It’s no surprise that your business is being measured up every time you add to your online identity. And, those measurements are pitted against other brand presences on search engine results pages (SERPs). When it comes to search engines, Google is undeniably the leader in determining trends. It is the top search engine, so it makes the rules. Its electric eye keeps tabs on SEO practices and promptly creates a disadvantage of those that reek of spam or dubious marketing practices.

SEO Success is about Adapting to Change

When you use the right methods, search engine surveillance isn’t something to be feared. You can moan about the headache that comes from all the new rules in SEO, or you can buck up and give your company the advantage by staying on top of the changes. Like everything, the key to success in SEO is adaptation to change. Some practices that were previously acceptable no longer work—they have been shut out by search engine algorithms as spam.
It turns out this is a good thing for authentic companies. Those businesses that actually have something of value to offer their customers are going to do fine in online marketing, as long as they make the effort to provide quality web design and content. The only people who benefitted from the now outdated tactics were hustlers who were out to turn quick clicks and dollars. Their scheme didn’t benefit consumers or legitimate businesses, and they have helped to put in place the new SEO rules that give serious businesses a boost.

Quick History of Algorithms

We’ll talk Google here, since it is the search engine that most companies base their SEO tactics on. Of course, other engines have their own algorithms, but you aren’t likely to find big differences as far as how your pages are ranked. Google regularly updates their algorithm to make sure Web users are getting the results they want.
The Panda update in 2011 ensured that sites with poor content weren’t ranking higher just because of shifty SEO strategies. In 2012, a new Penguin update came out to penalize sites with spammy links. Google even did a total overhaul on its algorithm platform, dubbed Hummingbird, which launched in 2013. (And, they continue to make changes, as with their Pigeon update in 2014.)
Prior to Hummingbird, search engines took more literal meanings of the key words in a search query (i.e. what you type into the search bar). Now, the algorithm attempts to make sense of your search query as a whole, in order to match the best content for your purposes. What does this mean for businesses? You’ve probably heard the saying, “Content is king.” Well, long live the king!

The Electric Eye Isn’t as Robotic as You Think

Now you’re armed with the knowledge of what search engines are looking for when sorting pages. However, you’re going to need some specific advice to get results (read: traffic!). Here are the top guidelines (let’s not call them rules because the details of how each one is accomplished are constantly in flux):
• Quality Web Design—Search engines aren’t very good at reading information from images, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore design. You should always start with creating your page for users. In fact, it turns out that many design aspects preferred by users are also looked for by search algorithms, and those include “websites that are fast-loading, easy to navigate, and compatible with most browsers,” according to an article on Creative Market.

Quality Content—Let’s talk for a minute about what is not quality content. In the past, shady companies who thought they were slick marketers used a method called “keyword stuffing”. Basically, this means jamming as many search key words as possible into an article, since that’s what the engines were looking for. With the more advanced algorithms, that just doesn’t fly anymore. You want page rank? Then give your viewers information they can actually use because the engines are looking out for them—not your rank. That doesn’t mean key words don’t matter. It just means you have to use them smartly by letting them occur naturally in the content. Not too hard to do if you simply stay on topic.

• Local Relevancy—With the Pigeon update, SERPs are making it easier to get the best results for local businesses. This is definitely important considering the local movement. With so many options available to consumers, many are looking local, and many sites are optimizing for local results. If your company has a defined location or area, you should definitely list in local directories, but don’t fake it! You’ll ruin your reputation if you list in directories that don’t match with your true location.

• Social Media—This is a big one and will continue to be so going forward. Although search engines don’t read images well, social media platforms often use algorithms that give precedence to posts with an image. That means a good visual for your site or article is going to get noticed and get shared—creating more links to your page.

Keeping an Eye on You

Perhaps the best advice for practicing good SEO is to create your website with humans in mind rather than search engines. The algorithms continue to update to make results match human expectations, so you can stay ahead of the updates by also matching your design to what humans need and want. The best way to do that is to hire a professional web design company that can present you and your business for who you really are. If you’re in the Toronto area, check out the TenPoint Solutions website for a reliable choice. Toronto’s best SEO Company.

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DanO