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SEO isn’t for the birds. Really.

There’s a joke going around based on Google’s many, many recent changes.

Q: Why are all of Google’s updates—Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird —named for animals?
A: Because managing SEO has become a frickin’ zoo.

How funny you find this joke depends on how badly this stampede of animal-themed algorithm updates—as well as the increase in “Not provided” traffic to your site—has hurt your brand and your business. And I suspect for many of you, it’s not funny at all.

Caged Monkey Variation1
(Photo credit: Fotografik33)

But, does this mean that you’re screwed, done, cooked? That SEO, for you anyway, really is dead?

Of course not.

Instead, to manage in this environment, the real questions worth asking are:

  1. What connects these Google updates?
  2. Why do they matter to you?
  3. And, most important, what do you do about them?

So, What Connects Google’s Recent Updates?

Customers. Your content has to focus on the needs of your customers. Whereas search engines traditionally have looked at various signals about your content to rank pages—inbound links, keyword placement, keyword frequency, etc.—these new algorithms and engine updates look at what customers value and rank your content in the search engine accordingly.

However, this isn’t really new. Google’s been providing this same guidance for years. As Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land notes in his Hummingbird FAQ:

“…Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important” [Emphasis mine.]

Why Does This Matter?

This one’s simple. Your site undoubtedly depends on Google for traffic, because your customers depend on Google for answers to their questions.

Now, here’s the best part. While some of Google’s most recent moves may be less “Do No Evil” than expected from Big G, in this case, you and Google have the same objective. Your customers use search engines to answer questions and uncover solutions to their problems. As such, they don’t want a “search” engine; they want a “find” engine. The better job your content does at answering those questions, the more customers will value your content. And the more customers value your content, the more Google will too. In fact, do a good job answering your customers questions and you can move from measuring search engine results to measuring business results.

What Can You Do?

Given all this, what should an enterprising business owner or marketing manager do to improve not only their rankings, but their business?

  1. Focus on customer needs. If you’re like most businesses, you have a list of questions customers ask you all the time. Now, check out your website to see how well it answers those questions. If there’s any gap at all, it’s time to get started creating new content for your site. Plus, you probably have content lying around your customers would value, which leads to…
  2. Perform a content audit. Got any brochures, white papers, catalogs, FAQ’s, newsletters (email or otherwise), and sundry other communications lying around? If you’re like most businesses, the answer is “yes.” Why not review those to see what content you can repurpose on your website to better answer customer questions—and get Google to take notice?
  3. Set baseline metrics. Finally, you want to keep track of the pages generating traffic from searches to spot opportunities for improvement. Take a look in your web analytics program to see which landing pages receive the most organic search traffic, then use that as a baseline for measuring the effectiveness of new content offerings.

Yes, keeping up with Google’s various changes is a bit complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. Continue to focus on your customers’ needs and Google will likely reward your efforts. And, yes, SEO might be a bit like running a zoo these days, but, by placing your focus on your customers, you just might end up as king of the jungle.

Do you want to learn more about how to improve sales, increase conversions, and reduce the costs from your search marketing? Then take a moment to check out our Biznology Jumpstart Workshop: On-site Search Marketing Training. Taught by three Biznology search marketing experts, you’ll learn how to make your search marketing work for your business. Interested in learning more? Check it out.

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Tim Peter

Tim Peter built his first website in 1995 and loves that he still gets to do that every day. Tim has spent almost two decades figuring out where customers are, how they interact with brands online, and delivering those customers to his clients’ front door. These efforts have generated billions of dollars in revenue and reduced costs.

Tim works with client organizations to build effective teams focused on converting browsers to buyers and building their brand and business. He helps those companies discover how marketing, technology, and analytics tie together to drive business results. He doesn't get excited because of the toys or tech. He gets excited because of what it all means for the bottom line.

An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. He is a member of the Search Engine Marketers Professional Organization (SEMPO), HSMAI, and the Digital Analytics Association.

Tim currently serves as Senior Advisor at SoloSegment, a marketing technology company that uses machine learning and natural language processing to improve engagement and conversion for large enterprise, B2B companies.

Tim Peter’s recent client work covers a wide range of digital marketing activities including developing digital and mobile marketing strategies, creating digital product roadmaps, assessing organizational capabilities, and conducting vendor evaluations for diverse clients including major hospitality companies, real estate brands, SaaS providers, and marketing agencies.

Prior to launching Tim Peter & Associates, LLC, a full-service e-commerce and internet marketing consulting firm in early 2011, he worked with the world’s largest hotel franchisor, the world’s premier independent luxury hotel representation firm, and a major financial services firm, developing various award-winning products and services for his customers. Tim can be reached at or by phone at 201-305-0055.

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