It’s been interesting to see the changes and evolution of Google’s algorithm over the last few years. Ever since the introduction of the first Panda update just over three years ago, Google have continued to emphasise the need for websites to have original, useful, good quality content if they want to rank highly in the SERPS.
What is Google looking for?
In the presentation above from this year’s BrightonSEO event, Tim Grice from Branded3 outlines the importance of looking beyond ‘traditional’ SEO activities (such as keyword research, building links and actor text optimisation) to activity more focused around improving and maintaining an optimal user experience using comprehensive, targeted and relevant content for users.
Branded3 have demonstrated that by decreasing bounce rate and increasing time on site, websites can rank by focusing on great content and not by building links.
Although I doubt that this approach would work for every site on the web, it nevertheless provides some strong evidence that savvy digital marketers and SEOs now need to not only consider keywords, meta data and links, but also the variety, quality and type of content that works for their users.
Focus on engagement
Great content that’s creative, audience-led, insightful and useful provokes engagement, which is now more important than ever. And whilst I would disagree that traditional SEO activities (particularly link-building) are becoming redundant, it makes sense that Google will consider engagement metrics in addition to links in order to determine how users engage onsite once they click through from the search results.
At the end of Tim’s presentation it states: ‘2014 – the year of building better websites’, and I think that sentiment sums up perfectly the approach digital marketers should continue to pursue. In order to maximise SEO in 2014 and beyond, we need to take a holistic view of the websites we’re producing and ensure that we create content that provokes engagement by meeting the needs of the visitor.