Search engine optimization can sometimes feel like a modern-day version of astrology. It’s deeply rooted in mystery and feels like a black art to people who aren’t steeped in it on a daily basis. At the same time, it’s utterly essential for running a successful business. Without it, you’re in trouble.
The purpose of this post is to elucidate some of the more surprising or shocking facts about SEO. These are the things that you won’t usually learn in school (or anywhere else for that matter).
Google Now Ranks Events
In the past, the cornerstone of SEO was things like the number of inbound links that your page had. But, in today’s world, it’s all about events.
Events are things that happen online. Google will start to prioritize these as it believes that they are more important to users than the overall popularity of a site.
For instance, let’s say that Facebook goes down, as it did in 2021. That was a major event and caused millions of people to search for news on Google’s platform. Google was able to respond with relevant content immediately, despite the lack of SEO for websites covering the outage, precisely because of its events-based approach. Sites that struck a chord with the events algorithm saw their results go right to the top of search, while those that stayed the same saw their rankings fall, at least temporarily.
Distance to Locations Is an Important Local SEO Metric
Google doesn’t care so much about physical distance from a user’s location to your business. What matters most to the search giant is travel time.
For instance, you could have a user who was 100 miles away from your location. But, if they are located right next to the bullet train, then travel time to your outlet might be just 20 minutes.
When it comes to local SEO, travel time is key. Google uses the same Maps data that tells users how long it is going to reach their destination to predict how worthwhile certain local recommendations are. If travel time is short, then it will promote them in search results. If the travel time is long, then it won’t.
The reason for this is simple: Google recognizes that there is a real time investment in travelling from one location to another. Most consumers would prefer to get what they want by simply walking around the corner from their home. So that’s why this type of ranking occurs. You’ll need to consider it carefully when marketing and locating your business. The closer to travel hubs it is, the better.
Adding a Video to Your Homepage Helps More Than You Think
Research came out a few years ago suggesting that including videos on your homepage was about 50 times as effective as creating a blog or similar type of content. Now Google data reveals that you’re more than twice as likely to occupy the number one spot if you follow this strategy.
The type of video that you produce depends heavily on the type of brand you operate. For some companies, explainers will be the best option while for others, it will be direct marketing or brand introductions, showcasing what you do.
The bottom line is this: any video is better than nothing, so start experimenting today.
Google’s Evaluators Can Determine the Quality of Your Content
Have you noticed how the top results for any Google search appear to be expertly written and wonderfully informative? It’s not by chance. It’s because Google is now using evaluators to impartially recommend certain results to users. Even if a major news outlet has covered a topic, it won’t necessarily rank highest. Instead, that accolade will go to the brand or firm that managed to create the best or more unique content.
Thus, if you run a business and want your pages to rank well, make sure that your content quality is high. Today, it matters more than ever to be original and add something new. Avoid rehashing other firm’s content or news articles that you’ve seen online. That rarely works.
Instead, talk about the things that make your business unique. Discuss how you’re solving problems that nobody else is addressing. Speak about your personal experiences and what they taught you about love, life and the universe if you have to.
Google Is Now Using Object Recognition to Promote Search Results
Even the objects in your images are now a part of Google’s ranking algorithm: something that it uses to determine whether your brand should rank high for a particular search term or not.
For instance, let’s say that you sell auto parts online. Google will promote your company if your website has pictures of car wheels, gaskets and other engine components in its database. The types of objects that you have in your images are now a powerful way to engage in on-page SEO. Don’t just use stock pictures: that won’t work when you are trying to sell products.
Usefulness Is More Important Than Content
While content is effective in helping your site stand out amongst the competition, it’s not the final word. In fact, Google is increasingly coming around to the idea that it’s usefulness that matters most.
Think about it: only two of the world’s ten most popular sites (Facebook, Google, Youtube, MSN, Bing, eBay, Amazon etc.) are actually content-based. The rest are services that help connect people to the specific content that they want.
Speaking honestly, only Wikipedia and YouTube are content-based sites. The rest of them are content gates of one kind or another.
Google is now taking this into account. While it recognizes that people want content, it also appreciates the fact that some sites make it easier to connect than others. This means that making sure that your site works is the primary concern. Then you should move over to content creation, once you exhaust other avenues of appealing to Google.
If you can, try becoming a content gate yourself. Set yourself up in some way as a platform that provides services to other sites.