Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is totally changing direction in 2011 due to changes in trends of how people use the internet and why. This has major and far reaching impacts on the way prospective clients find your business website through a search engine and even the way you personally use the internet. Here is why:
The web is becoming social
Back in the day, the internet used to be used majorly for finding information. As can be seen from the table below by hitwise data, Google was the #1 destination online even up to 2009 compared to Facebook because internet users were searching for information and hence needed a search engine. Search engines feature heavily in Alexa’s top 10 websites which is ordered according to their Alexa traffic rank (but most statistic sites disagree that Google is still #1). Even Google itself has a weekly list it produces and publishes online showing the top destinations of web traffic (the only problem is that Google do not include many of their own sites in the calculation). According to google the most popluar site online at the moment is Facebook. It is interesting to see the whole list by checking out this link to Google’s list called DoubleClick.
Others say it took until mid 2011 for Facebook to overtake the kingpin Google as #1 visited site for users online (see graph blow from hitwise statistics).
Of course this all came as no shock to Google. They have been developing Google+ to enter the online social networking space and claw back users and time spent on the Google plethora of sites.
How is SEO evolving?
Inline with this change of the web becoming more social, search engines are focusing their algorithms a lot more on how people share interesting things online via their social networking. If this means through stumbleupon, redit, digg, facebook, blogging, or even by clicking on a +1 on a page or result, this all now greatly affects the way search results are ordered on a search engine like Google. It is the job of anyone doing SEO to aim for their website to rank in the top 3 positions on the first page of Google (still by far the #1 search engine in the US and world) so as to gain maximum exposure and traffic for certain relevant keywords (search terms).
Is the web becoming too narrow?
How is this narrow? Because the first page of your SERP results are now strongly influenced by what your contacts find important and not necessarily what you want to see. If your contacts are all interested in seeing products that have certain attribute or benefit and have indicated this by pressing a facebook ‘like’, Google ‘+1” or tweet (plus all the other ways of sharing information) then these websites/pages will rank highest on a SERP when you search for a similar search term. Maybe you don’t care about those specific attributes of a product that your contacts or friends care about. Maybe you want a larger variety of natural organic results on the first page that your work colleagues don’t find as important. But this will not happen. The ‘world WIDE web’ is quickly transforming into the ‘world NARROW web’.
How can you combat this?
The first question you should ask yourself is ‘do you want to combat this trend of the web and SERPs giving you more tailored and specific results’.
Many surfers want to have a more personalized experience online hence this is a good development. Those who also use the web for business competitive research or want a broader and uninhibited list of results can use some of the following tactics:
- Clear cookies
- Clear cache
- Sign out of Facebook
- Sign out of Gmail/Hotmail
- Use a proxy server in the location you want local results for
The numbers speak for themselves
In the end, the whole internet is moving in a more social direction with people interacting instead of just finding information. This means your business website, your blog, your press releases have to appeal to an audience that wants to comment on them, share them, suggest them to their friends, and feel apart of the content you are producing. This is all in line with the latest Google algorithm update that happened 2 months ago called the Panda update (aka Farmer) which greatly focuses on unique and engaging content. In the end, if what you are writing is cool, engaging, interesting, groundbreaking, useful, and fun, then you will naturally turn up on the top of the SERPs because people will use it in social ways, like it, +1 it, tweet it, share it etc. If not, start changing your online image and voice so you play by these rules.
So feel free to comment below, like, +1, share etc this blog entry.