6 Changes in Google Search

Google has made many changes over the years, other engines have followed suit, and SEO has evolved along with these changes. Consider these 6 ways Google has changed over the last several years.

1. More pages are not necessarily better
Google used to reward what would now be considered duplicate content. Endless search results pages, doorway pages, and many other techniques of the past are easily detected by the modern Googlebot. In today’s world, these techniques can be ignored, or even penalized. Where quantity ruled supreme, now quality does. Many sites are pruning, combining, or redirecting the flood of URLs of the old days. If you are tempted by these old techniques, consider that you will likely have to undo the changes.

2. CSS and JS should not be blocked
It used to be a best practice to block Google from JavaScript and CSS resources, as they could otherwise show in the index. And to have those as landing pages was just horrible. But modern Google is very smart: It wants access to everything and needs everything to fully render the page. In having to access these resources, Google analyzes mobile friendliness, speed, layout, and many other factors.

3. Get only good links
From the start, Google has always weighed links very heavily. SEOs used to be able to get websites to rank without even improving the site! And in the old days, any link helped – and was disregarded at worst. In modern Google, links should come from the best sources. Links from penalized, unimportant or even new sites are risky and can now cause a Google penalty. A typical link profile of a site might have these and ratios should be monitored – but some low-quality links are best disavowed. A high ratio of any one type can be a red flag to Google. It’s best to invest your time in getting the best links.

4. Google wants to understand you
Google wants to understand concepts better, and wants to understand you better, too! With the advent of Hummingbird and RankBrain, Google is getting smarter and smarter. Hummingbird was Google’s update to help with classifying content. RankBrain is an Artificial Intelligence update to help Google understand what sort of results a certain query would like to see. Consider that these similar queries are actually quite different:

https://www.google.com/search?q=windows+update
https://www.google.com/search?q=windows+replacement

Think about your prospects’ most important queries driving your traffic. Are you delivering what they are looking for?

5. It’s not just 10 blue links
Google has many changes over the years, and what began as a simple list of 10 blue links has evolved into a wide variety of results that could be returned. Results can now include answers, cards, carousels, images, videos, and more. And voice results are becoming increasingly valuable for some queries. Getting to “number one in Google” isn’t quite the same as it was: Number one might be a block of images or an answer ABOVE the number 1 position.

The modern approach is key to being successful in today’s Google. Images should be named, tagged and captioned appropriately. Schema should be used to help Google understand and classify your content and even your site. For those that commit to helping Google understand their content, the reward is visibility in a multitude of ways.

6. Keywords? Not provided
In the old days, it was easy to see what keywords your prospects were using to find your site. But since “(Not Provided)” has replaced keyword data in analytics, there have been some big changes. Many sites were over-optimized in the old days, anyway. The new approach isn’t spammy but instead is about being more relevant. In the old days, you could target a broad phrase by using it multiple times, and with a heavy bit of anchor-text. In modern times, it’s important to “talk around” any broad phrases. If you want to be relevant for “Blue Widgets”, you must be relevant for as many aspects of the Blue Widget as possible. Consider what questions prospects are asking, what information or media exist around Blue Widgets, etc.

In your SEO approach, always keep in mind that Google has changed quite a bit over the years. Yesterday’s approach was for yesterday’s Google. Bing and the other remaining competitors will keep changing, trying to catch-up to or outdo Google’s innovations. To ensure your success, make sure your approach is in line with Google’s ongoing changes.

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