The Game Google Plays

Google burst onto the scene in 2000, and users gravitated towards the simple interface it offered. At the time, the search market was dominated by extensive portals that offered up-to-date news and various applications, all on the one page sharing the search function. Google’s simple page design of logo and search box, which we all still see today, allowed it to quickly gain dominance as the go-to search portal for most users.

While the front page for Google is still simple, its offering it is now more a gateway Google uses to entice users to its myriad of available products. While it started out as a Stanford University project, it has now become a multi-billion dollar listed company and, like all listed companies, its sole aim is to make profits for its share holders. Google is constantly using its market dominance to gain more users as well as to maximise profits, which can be a tricky tight-rope for it to walk. Many big companies that had market dominance have lost it, with poorly calculated changes that alienated its users, with the end result in them losing market share.

Google now has many businesses apart from its search engine, but its search engine still forms an integral part of its overall marketing strategy. While most end users see Google as free, it in actual fact makes huge amounts of money selling advertising. Google’s challenge is to stay relevant with its search results, while trying to get users to gravitate towards its paid ads as much as possible.

Google ranks sites using a complex algorithm, measuring hundreds of factors to determine a site’s worth. Every time a user searches via its portal, it ranks sites according to this factor to help it determine the most relevant websites for the search result, and lists them accordingly on page one , two,three, etc. As the site gained dominance, website owners realised that, to be successful, they needed to be on page one for relevant results pertaining to their service or products. Google soon realised that being an algorithm (or simply a computer program), unscrupulous companies could find ways to trick it, to get sites ranking at number one. To combat this, the algorithm is in constant development to thwart these loopholes and, in theory, to provide the most relevant results.

It is estimated that, this year alone, Google will make up to three hundred changes to its algorithm; several significant changes, plus smaller tweaks that can play havoc with a website’s positioning. Today’s website owners need to stay on top of current changes and proposed future changes in order to be successful. Google will not list the changes it makes to the algorithm, but just give general guidelines as to what it is looking for. To discover what works best, you need a stable of websites to get a full picture of what Google is doing and how it affects ranks. Hiring a reputable SEO company can help you to navigate these changes, so your site continues to flourish and adapt to whatever algorithm Google updates throws at it.

Google Hummingbird – What does it mean?

We have seen Google make major updates over the past year to their algorithm that ranks websites via Penda and Penguin updates. Several weeks ago, we observed increased chatter about a possible new algorithm being rolled out, and just last week Google confirmed this new search algorithm as Hummingbird.
According to Google, this is not just update but a complete re-write that will affect up to 90% of search results, and is the biggest rewrite of the algorithm since 2001. Some analysts are not even calling it an update, but a whole new algorithm replacing the old system; no matter how you look at it, it is a big change in the landscape of SEO.

So what is Google Hummingbird and how does it affect today’s SEO environment?

Hummingbird is designed to give Google users the results they want, not just by keyword matching but by implementing Semantic language and the meaning behind the specific search terms.  ie Less about the keyword itself but more about the intention behind it. It is intended to match the search results with relevant pages offering the information they desire, not just a match for the keyword they have typed in with content that is not relevant.

For SEO this means developing rich content and user experiences around how people use the internet naturally; not just targeting  specific keywords. Sites that offer good unique information and engage with their audience via social media, blogs etc, will benefit from this latest algorithm change.

Google’s aim is to deliver relevant, up-to-date information and a good user experience, and have been for a while viewing on-page analytics to determine a website’s authority; with this latest update it takes it a step further. The aim is for it to be less about the specific keyword and more about how the customer interacts with the website, which is viewed as a better indicator of a successful search.

SEO has changed dramatically over the years, and it takes an experienced SEO company  to keep abreast of the changes and adapt with the times. SEOcycle constantly monitors changes and works closely with our clients so their websites rank highly and stay there. SEO should now be an integrated part of any company, not something outsourced and forgotten about.

If your website is not reaching its potential, why not contact us here at SEOcycle for a free website analysis…