Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Google's New Algorithm: A New Crucial Question

Since we've been writing about Google's new algorithm launch in late September, SEO specialists across the globe have been striving to update their client's websites to meet the new requirements. Much of this updating concerns the websites' infrastructure--precise, tedious work best suited to an SEO professional. Now, more then ever, your SEO professional is your best friend. However, website owners would also do well to pay attention to the new requirements, and to act now to meet the algorithm's new challenges.

What new challenges?

Well, the new algorithm will effect up to 90% of search results, but perhaps the most salient feature is Google's evolving ability to answer longer and more complex questions. As the USA Today noted in its article about the algorithm, "The change comes as people become more comfortable asking long, complex questions...rather than single words or simple phrases."

Over the years, most SEO specialists have urged their clients to think about their product or service in terms of highly-specific keywords. Although we believe this practice is an essential SEO strategy, we've also urged website owners to use keywords judiciously, and to compose text that focuses on relevance and quality. The over-use and misuse of keywords has been a scourge of the Internet. We've wrote about "keyword stuffing" before. Please read: "For SEO, Content is King."

Egregious keyword stuffing might be one reason Google has decided to update the algorithm. As we learn more about the new algorithm, we see that specific keywords might be losing precedence to more generally informative content. After all, by evolving to answer more complex questions, Google seems to be acknowledging that people no longer search by keywords alone. Instead of searching merely for "dress shoes", for example, a dapper young gentleman might be more inclined to search for "the best dress shoes for a dapper young gentleman". 

If you own a website that sells shoes, then, you might focus less on the keyword "dress shoes", and instead write new content that attempts to answer the question: What is the best dress shoe for a dapper young gentleman?

We've written before about how SEO can help you clarify your business offering: By participating in a thoughtful natural website optimization campaign, a website owner must clarify his/her business offering to his/herself. In that article, we urged website owners to imagine an Internet user searching for their product or service:

"What keywords would you use to search for your product or service? Think precisely about the exact keywords that best describe your product or service. If you are an expert tailor in Philadelphia, perhaps you might simply choose the following keywords: 'expert tailor Philadelphia.' But that cannot be your only option. You must think of many possibilities!"

Now we must update our advice to reflect Google's new algorithm. Website owners can no longer think simply in terms of keywords. The new crucial question for any website owner is simple: What question(s) does your product or service answer?

This new paradigm is, by nature, customer-focused. Instead of asking a website to define its product specifically with a few keywords, we must now ask a website to anticipate its customers questions--and to answer them with relevant content. The best way to create new content now is by setting out with a question in mind--and then answering that question as thoroughly and thoughtfully as possible.

So, ask yourself: What question does my product answer? And then write about it!