Around the world, SEO is almost exclusively about Google, the world's most popular search engine, with a market share of 80.52 percent as of March 2017. In some Asian countries, however, local search engines top Google’s popularity, such as Baidu in China, homegrown search portal Naver in South Korea, or Yahoo! Japan and Yahoo! Taiwan in the respective countries.
Still, Google is unbeatable on a global scale, and that might be because the almost-monopolist does not rest on its success, but rather develops its offers steadily: With RankBrain, for instance, Google introduced a system of artificial intelligence into the Internet search last year, a focus on fast loading times and the language search according to the maxim “mobile first” is doing the rest, and the HTTPS encryption play a greater role than in previous years for the search criteria, too. Thanks to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Google is more and more aware of what users expect from the search results, making SEO on the other hand unfortunately even more difficult today.
Several consequences if Googles move to AI and machine learning must be taken into consideration, besides the fact that users are receiving more relevant search results, simply because Google knows better than ever what users are looking for in their search. Whether it is the input of words with multiple-meanings, local search (even if it is not formulated as such), or the selection of planned interaction, for site operators and SEO agencies times are getting tougher, as their old, tested measures for the improvement of the ranking no longer work. Even a meaningful page pointing to a whole flood of strong backlinks does not bring top ranking when other factors do not meet the expectations of the users and thus the Google algorithms. That is why we have put together some valuable tips on how a good combination of actions can still create a good ranking:
1. Mobile first: Google is gradually increasing the importance of mobile optimization for the ranking, due to the growing number of searches via mobile device. In addition to fast loading time it involves responsive web design, too. Certainly, this is one reason for the boom of the open-source CMS system Wordpress, which has been considering the flexible aspect of adjustment for different screen sizes in its themes for a long time. You can check your mobile page with the Google test optimization for mobile devices.
2. Fast page loading: A significant ranking factor is the fast page loading, as long loading times annoy and lead frequently to cancellations. Therefore, optimize the speed for Internet use and ensure a fast page setup, whether on the PC or on the smartphone. In the mobile sector, Google is developing open-source technology called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), a project the company started in February 2016, and favors AMP-optimized pages in its ranking. More information on the AMP project at Google can be found at https://www.ampproject.org/
3. Local Search: Local search is growing in importance, but the often not formulated intension is still challenging search engine programmers. For example, if a user asks: "Where is the next baker?", Google needs to recognize that it is a local inquiry and, secondly, define the relevant search area using the location coordinates. In the results list and a map section, the bakeries are listed in the user's close environment. It can therefore make sense for site operators to create long-term keywords with a local reference, or for inter(national)provider to create local pages, to be found locally. Also helpful is a (free) entry in Google My Business, which requires a Google+ profile. The entry can include not only information on address, opening hours, offer etc. but also reviews.
4. Relevant and up-to-date content: Two factors give the content a new meaning: First, the context-based search by RankBrain places only user-centered, 100%-content in top positions that is in line with the needs and expectations of a searcher. Secondly, the voice search with Cortana, Google Now, Siri & Co. entails more and longer questions, which are asked colloquial and often with dialect coloring. More and more users are transforming their search behavior and use the new voice technologies. In view of the complexity, new potentials are therefore expected in the field of longtail keywords. In addition to relevance, the topicality of the content plays an important role. Users expect texts, pictures and videos to be always up-to-date. If content is not maintained for a longer time, it falls back in the ranking. Also, the internal linking with old contents can lead to a downgrade of a current page.
5. Introduce HTTPS as standard: The abbreviation HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. The Google Chrome browser already warns of HTTP pages that are not encrypted with SSL (Secure Socket Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security). With the help of these encryption techniques for data transfer from server to recipient, a HTTP protocol becomes the safer HTTPS, whereby the "s" stands for “secure”. Google search results take into account the HTTPS transmission, which explains why in the meantime, more than half of all Internet sites are secured by HTTPS. Particularly, e-commerce sites benefit from lower abortion rates due to customer trust in the use of HTTPS, consequently, no one wants to lag behind.
Despite all the innovations in the Google SEO factors, old SEO virtues such as strong backlinks, an inspiring internal linkage, image and video descriptions in names, captions and anchor texts, to name just a few examples, should not be neglected. And precisely because the factors for the Google ranking since the Penguin 4.0 update last autumn are more difficult to get filtered out, it is more than ever recommended to consider the service of professionals.