We know Google’s algorithm changes daily. Some insist that the reason is so no-one becomes complacent with their rankings. A well run business demands a predictable environment. However, an excellent business in today’s market must also know how to deal with change. Google is part of that changing landscape. By maintaining a modest pay-per-click account, any business can hedge their bets against the less than predictable changes in the Google landscape. But let’s give Google the benefit of the doubt and assume that their changes are evolving to a more quality driven search.
Given the sheer volume of searches, Google can quite easily determine if their search engine results pages are delivering the quality of searches demanded by today’s attention deficit oriented searcher. Here are some of the things I would do as a search engine.
Develop a better understanding of the meaning of keywords. If a search based on a particular keyword generates negative results, then that should immediately send up a red flag to the search engine that the search did not produce what the client was looking for. Here’s an example: six months ago when you searched “striping Dayton Ohio”, the page was filled with adult night clubs (stripping). I didn’t even know these types of businesses painted parking lots in their spare time! Today, the same search pulls up a complete list of more legitimate businesses offering asphalt and parking lot line painting. How did the search engine figure this out?
First: pay attention to the search results that never get clicked for a keyword search and eliminate them. Second: pay attention to searches done by the same search visitor if none of the results are selected. It’s very likely that the next search term will be a more specific search telling the search engine that this term is similar to the last. Monitoring such information will give the search engines key information relative to understanding the very complex nuances of human language and discerning what the search visitor is actually looking for. Third: pay attention to the length of time a visitor spends on the page and site selected from the search. If a visitor leaves immediately (bounces) then very likely he selected a result that wasn’t what he expected.
I have no doubt without even looking at search algorithms that Google and Bing are doing this. It just makes sense. For the website owner who wants to rank in the search engine results pages, the lesson is simple. Focus on your visitor! Be keyword aware but not keyword obsessed. The overuse of the most popular terms will look foolish both to your visitors and to Google (eventually). Write engaging content that focuses on the visitor and not on the search engine. Make sure your meta description is not just filler. It is often used in the search results if it jibes with the page content. For you local guys it also doesn’t hurt to put your phone number in your meta descriptions. Add deeper calls to action. Calls to action should help the visitor engage…not just buy. Try to anticipate your visitors next move and make it easy for him to get there.