Digital marketer, professor and SEO expert Marcus Tandler believes we are entering an age where links will no longer be a part of online SEO ranking formulas. In fact, he thinks Google may be already working on leveraging the power of machine learning to separate itself from old school ranking factors, becoming more independent in the SEO game.
At this year’s YoastCon, a Netherlands conference dedicated to website optimization, Marcus will discuss the changing world of SEO and the next evolutionary steps in search engine rankings. He’ll talk about the approach of Russian search engine Yandex, and how at the end of 2015 its announcement to stop counting links as a ranking factor for commercial queries stunned the SEO community. And the Russians aren’t the only ones annoyed by linkspam. Google has taken measures to tackle the problem and Marcus expects OnPage SEO to become more important in years to come.
What is OnPage SEO?
It refers to factors that have an effect on your Web site or Web page listing in natural / organic search results. There are marketing agencies like inBLOOM available to help you improve your website’s SEO by focusing on usability, content, tools, and quality, instead of trying to cheat search engines with keyword stuffing and spam links.
So how does a search engine like Yandex now assess the importance or authority of a website without the help of links?
What does all this tech talk mean to your digital marketing efforts? You should spend less time and money on paid links and more on SEM (search engine marketing). Instead, start focusing on your site’s design, content, and visitor behavior. Offer value and search engines like Google will take notice.
Here are some general things to know about SEO optimization according to Marcus:
- Over 5 billion searches are done on Google every day
- Search is the most visited website on mobile phones and Google has become a mobile-first company
- Search, search behavior, search needs, search expectations have evolved, and search engines have no choice but to respond
- You need to learn who is clicking in order to know what is providing value
- It’s not just about finding what you’re searching for; it’s finding answers to your questions and needs as quickly as possible
- Search must become more personalized, moving from a web search to a contextualized search that answers people’ questions
So how does Google rank content if there aren’t a lot of links to a post?
It reverts to the way search engines were before links – judging based on the text on the page. The way Google works is that it says the first time we see the word on the page, count up a little bit more. The next time, ok a little more but not a ton more, but after a while they say we’ve seen this word a few times maybe this page is about the topic. However, it doesn’t help you to keep repeating that keyword over and over again. And at some point, Google might view that as keyword stuffing and the page would not do as well as it would with just a moderate mention of a keyword.
Page rank doesn’t just focus on backlinks. There are several ways Google accesses the quality of content, such as determining if the page sits on a domain that seems reputable. But typically, if a user is typing a rare phrase and there are no other pages on the web that have that particular phrase, even if there aren’t that many links, the page can be returned because Google thinks it might be relevant to what the user is looking for. The search engine is looking at the quality of the content that is on the page, rather than looking for links.
Getting external links was once the single most important objective for attaining high rankings. This stems from the idea that external links are one of the hardest metrics to manipulate and thus, one of the best ways for search engines to determine the popularity of a given web page. This idea was first used by the early search engine Alta Vista and later improved upon by Google.
Google first made its mark by introducing the Stanford community to PageRank (an algorithm developed by Google co-founder Larry Page). This algorithm counted hyperlinks as votes for popularity. The pages that had the most links pointing at them were considered the most popular. When they were deemed relevant for a particular query, the most popular and relevant pages would become the first pages listed in Google’s results. Although this algorithm is much more complex today, it still likely includes the notion of external links as votes.
So now that you have the prediction for what’s up Google’s search engine sleeves in the coming years, it’s important that you gear up for the change. Start providing your website visitors with engaging, helpful experiences from the start and you will be rewarded.
Cover photo: Martin Gommel
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