At some point fairly soon, the underlying rules of SEO are going to change fundamentally. The growth in the importance of user feedback from social media channels, coupled with the growth in the amount of usable demographic data held by Google means that within the next couple of years, we’re going to see highly personalised search results in which relevance will be calculated to the person viewing the page, rather than the world at large.
These personalised results aren’t just going to come from our direct social groups, but from aggregated data about people like us. I’ll get lumped in with all of the people of a similar age group with similar friends on social media, and similar interests in terms of what I view online, and I’ll get demographically relevant search results based on that.
An increasing amount of data that will be used in the ranking alorithm will be direct feedback from users – so called social media signals. +1, Share, RT, and Like will become the currency by which relavance within a user pool is determined.
People in the 18-30 group are more likely to want to see Club 18-30 when they search for a holiday in Google, whereas someone in the 65-80 age group are more likely to prefer Saga. When social data from within a user’s pool is aggregated and overlaid onto the underlying SEO Factors, you get tailored results that are more intuitive and useful. Simply because the people in one group are more likely to share a particular website than the other.
This kind of shift change in the Google ranking algorithm, in which social factors become more important than links is something that will scare a lot of people. Particularly those who treat their customers cynically, and give nothing back to them.
A lot of websites that currently rank well in Google are not necessarily the ones that a user would most like to visit. SEO is all about manipulation – regardless of how hard members of the community will try and stress otherwise.
Despite what many users think, the fact that a site ranks number one in Google does not necessarily mean it is the best site. Also, the fact that a site ranks number one in Google does not necessarily mean that customers will automatically buy products from it.
SEO strives to push a website that might not necessarily justify a high ranking into higher visibility through rewriting content, restructuring pages, building better architecture, and finding more people to link to the site.
You won’t get to number one with SEO alone
With increasing emphasis on user experience – by which I mean satisfaction – you are going to find it very difficult to sustain any form of traffic from a website that is low quality. SEO will still be very important – you will still need to get the structure of your site right, but that’s about it.
Content needs to be created by marketers who appreciate what you want to sell, and how to promote it in a user friendly way – thanks to Google’s ability to understand nuances in language and synonyms, you no longer need crappy SEO text.
I give the kind of link building that is about finding placements on “relevant” pages about 6 months as a meaningful activity before it just gets totally valueless.
What do I need to do?
You need to make yourself deserve to rank number one. Understand who is buying your product and why, understand what makes you special – what the key differentiators for your product vs a competitor are.
Use this information to make yourself the best. Not better, but the best. Engaging descriptive content that is appropriate to visitors and customers and communicates the value of your brand. A strategy that is about reaching out to customers and understanding what they want from your business. Most importantly, a realisation that you can’t simply expect people to buy from you because you rank number one. You need to justify yourself to them.
Do some actual marketing, rather than doing SEO and thinking it’s the same thing.