A couple weeks back we took an in-depth look at the bare essentials of writing a blog post or publishing a web page.
From title tags to header tags and meta descriptions, we covered the fundamentals of on-site SEO.
But just like we’ve said multiple times, there are over 200 factors or ranking signals potentially at play when Google decides which keywords or search queries to show your web page or blog post for and which spot to rank it.
On top of that, Google now has an algorithm in play to fight against fake news which can also affect your rankings.
And believe us, today ranking at the top of the search engine is more important than ever. That’s due to….
The Erosion of Organic Search in SEO
How Google Has Completely Changed the Game for Enterprise AND Home Businesses in the Past 6 Years
Ok, time to do a little history.
Search Engine Optimization came into being as a means for SEO specialists to manipulate Google and other search engines into ranking a site at number one.
Not so long ago, the only results on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) were Organic. And then Google introduced AdWords on the right side and then in the first three, wait, now four spots of the search results.
You might have noticed that when you do a search in Google, a lot more than just the organic searches now appear.
For instance, your search for “famous Mexican actors” might result in a carousel of the images of famous Mexican actors, which can deter users from clicking on organic search results.
Also, if you’re searching for a restaurant in Scranton, PA then you’ll also likely see Google reviews and a Google map with different restaurants from which to choose.
Oh yeah, and lest we are accused of burying the lede, remember when there used to be 10 organic search results when you looked for a term and sometimes as many as 13?
Well, now the average number of page one organic results has dropped to an astounding 8.5 results and in some cases, the organic results have been low as 5 or 6.
Needless to say, SEOs have been taking a hard look at themselves in the mirror and thinking about…
What Does it Mean To Do SEO in 2017?
While it’s always important to keep the essentials in mind when performing SEO, now they’re more important than ever.
It used to be that having genuinely good content wasn’t a guarantee of ranking well due to the fact that in super-competitive niches, there’d be sites utilizing better SEO practices and potentially buying thousands of links to neutralize a competitor.
But that was before 2011 and 2012 before the Panda and Penguin algorithms respectively beat back poor quality content and link buying sites respectively (and sometimes in tandem.)
On top of that 2013 brought with it the Hummingbird algorithm and the introduction of machine learning playing a large role in how Search results were determined as Google began actively trying to answer questions asked it.
Querying “What stadium do the Boston Red Sox” would result in potentially an image and location map for Fenway Stadium along with an answer box with a response generated from Wikipedia or another site Google deemed to be an authority.
Since then, searches have seemingly become much less about single-word searches and more sentence-like queries that are harder to predict and optimize for. But not impossible.
The other factor that’s changing the way people are accessing search engines are via virtual voice-activated assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google’s voice search that is now available on all Android phones.
People are simply approaching searches differently than they did even four years ago and Google’s only getting better at answering questions itself, edging out organic results such as your blog post.
So What are Online Home Businesses to Do?
For as long as SEO has been around, there have been different types of SEO specialists that have declared its death.
What’s important to keep in mind is that those who usually declare SEO’s death are actually just lamenting the fact that their primary SEO strategy–be it link building, scraped content, or old fashion on-site SEO–has become less effective or outlawed by Google.
That said, SEO is in no way dead, nor is organic search.
It is becoming much more difficult to rank on page one for highly competitive terms, but then again, why go for the hardest terms?
After all, long-tail keywords (keywords that are three words or longer) and questions are becoming more commonplace and they have a much higher rate of conversion than one- or two-word keywords.
Here’s how to stay competitive in organic search in 2017.
- Never forget to optimize each blog post and page that you create with basic on-site SEO practices such as including your keyword in the title, header, and alt tags and writing a compelling meta description.
- The reason Google has made the changes they have is not to punish SEOs but to force us to get back to the basics of creating the best possible online experience possible for our target traffic. By focusing on the topics and questions you know your audience is looking for answers about, you can draw them to your site and improve your search rankings for more searches..
- Just because link building in the sense of buying links has been outlawed by Google doesn’t mean links pointing back to your site aren’t still one of the most important ranking factors. Create meaningful and well-written content and the links will come.
Ultimately, organic search and SEO will never die, but they will continue to change. And the best thing you can do is to read articles like this one and make the necessary changes to your site and new pages.
Not every competitor is going to be using these tactics and even less will be using them smartly, so do your homework, put in the effort, and start rolling in traffic!