Every year, Google publishes more than 500 minor updates to its algorithm. These updates are usually so small that they go unnoticed – unless they affect the specific keywords or query types that your own website relies on for traffic. However, there will occasionally be major algorithm refreshes, and those can affect a large percentage of queries.
We are coming up to the halfway mark of this year, and there have already been three significant updates to Google’s algorithm. The first update of the year didn’t earn a formal name, but appeared to be a precursor to the later “Mobilegeddon” update, which changed the way that Google prioritises sites in local or mobile search. More recently, in May 2015 Google published the “Phantom 2.0” update, which focused on quality signals.
Looking to the Future
Quality may sound like a nebulous thing, but it is becoming a far more important ranking factor than simple popularity. Content that is informative and accurate (backed up by sources that are known to contain correct information) will rank better than content that simply gets a lot of likes and links.
Breaking Away From the Old Approach to SEO
If you want your website to continue to rank well, then you will need to change the way that you think about SEO. The traditional approach of link building and guest blogging is a good starting point, but it is not going to be enough to ensure that the average website remains competitive.
To protect the future of your website’s rankings, you should look at focusing on local and mobile SEO as well as general marketing.
No-one can be certain what the future will hold in terms of the nature of the next algorithm update, but if you want your website to have the best chance of performing well in the rankings you should focus on offering the best experience for your users. Things like the bounce rate, time on site, presence of multimedia content, and the quality and freshness of your content are becoming far more important than simple metrics such as Page Rank. Those factors will not serve as a “quick fix” for today’s traffic issues, but they will pay off in the future.
Google is looking to move towards a trust-based version of SEO, where websites that typically provide accurate content are ranked above other sites that may be more popular right now but provide less accurate information. Of course, this idea works only for subjects which deal in objective facts, rather than opinions, but it is still an interesting move for the search engine, and if they do make that move it will affect a massive number of queries. To protect yourself, it is time to start investing in quality content today.