We have now moved into a period of time when the good people at Google and the other search engine providers; are focused more than ever before on the relevant results returned by search engines following searches conducted by human beings.
Before we put the flags out let’s take a quick look at how this has happened. You have no doubt heard the phrase “I will look it up on the internet!” or “I’ll do a search!” The first statement is false! Without some form of index it would be impossible to find anything on the internet. For those of a certain age you may remember names like Excite an early web search established in 1993, or LookSmart, or how about Altavista? These were all early developers of what we now call Search Engines!
It didn’t take long for a new generation of people to try and beat the system, some for fun and some for money. The battle between humans and bots had begun! As the methods of indexing internet content evolved and became more sophisticated, so did the tactics employed by the Search Engine Optimisation Specialists. A battle of the wallets ensued and soon many of the search results had little relevance for the user, and more often than not; the SERP’s or Search Engine Results Pages contained the most unsavoury content and images.
A lot of the early search engines were swallowed-up by larger organisations and we were left with the major players we are familiar with today.
These main search engines need to monetise their services in order to survive. Advertising is the obvious route to go but in order to maximise potential profit; it is vital that the search results they produce become more relevant to the users. The better the relevance the better the targeted audience, this then allows for much improved targeted advertising.
This new era of better defined search results is a by-product of the search engines positioning themselves to sell improved marketing opportunities for those paying for advertising. Rather than looking at this in a cynical way, it can be seen as a win/win situation. The internet is being indexed for much improved SERP’s and the paid advertisers are having their message delivered to a more focused audience.
SEO (search engine optimisation) still has its place but we are on the edge of change, so keep an eye out for phrases like SEH (Search Engines for Humans) or HSR (Human Search Results) or other terms that may emerge from this turning point.
SEO Over Optimisation – Be Aware!
Like a lot of things in life there is the right way to do something and the wrong way to do something!
In context for many things the penalty for doing it wrong will be a slap on the wrist or having to miss a turn, with SEO the ultimate penalty could be a domain ban across the world.
Google like many of the other major search engines has a code of practice or set of SEO guidelines Search Engine Optimisation Guidelines. In order to understand SEO, we have become very famiilar with this document (it is also given to each and every employee of Google). It is not the be all and end all of SEO, however it gives a really comprehensive overview of what groundwork has to be done and where some of the penalties may occur.
Keyword and Long Tail Research
In order to establish any solid SEO going forward it has to be based upon keywords and more so now (since Google Hummingbird) KEY PHRASES. These should be agreed at the earliest opportunity and be used as part of the framework of any new website.
Keywords should be established for each and every page, with each page being treated as its own entity. In other words the home page should describe what the website is about generally and the other pages should describe the services specifically.
It is therefore imperative that keyword research is carried out to establish the derivatives that can be used throughout the site; thereby not creating duplicate keywords all over the place but rather use the derivatives woven into the content throughout the site.
This not only covers the basic ‘short tail’ search but also allows for the ‘long tail’ search which will capture a greater result from general and specific searches.
Here are some useful resources to assist in keyword research.