Google is of course the most popular search engine out there. And while many businesses rely on Google’s search results to direct customers to them, the new way in which those results are displayed will force many to adapt their SEO practices. For Google’s new results are not simply comprised anymore of traditional, organic site matches; they now have images, video, local maps and social cues.
1) Local SEO is the New Big Thing
Your Google searches more than likely will display Google Places listings. Because of this recent trend, consumers are starting to notice. SEO software firm SEOmoz did some research on Google’s SERP (search engine results page): the results indicate that searchers are gravitating toward Places listings. The heat map above displays the activity surrounding a Google search for pizza.
If your business uses local listings, focus on getting involved in Google Places. Try the following:
Citations Make sure that your correct business information is listed in as many respectable sources and database as possible. Also, be consistent, i.e. if you use “” in your address once, stay with it and don’t use.
Reviews“ Google only displays reviews from Google, but if you can get involved in aggregators like Yelp or Super pages, you will help increase your presence in search results.
Google Places page optimization Make sure your Google Places page is properly optimized. Point your page back to a city-specific landing page if possible, and include categories that match exactly.
2) Search Now Has Social
Search and social are now united. Social cues like Twitter shares, Facebook likes and social bookmarks now play a heavier role in determining search results. To put it another way, search results are now basically personal for each specific searcher.
3) Consider People, Not Robots, When Picking Keywords
If you step back and think about it, people search with Google because they have a question. What you need to do is anticipate those questions in advance, regardless of the topic. The keywords you select and the content you choose need to reflect, to some extent, the answers to the searchers questions. Yes, keyword research is painstaking, but it is also perhaps the most important facet of SEO. Move away from conceiving of keywords as mere data, and gravitate toward thinking about the individual searcher.
4) Content Links Are Vital, as Are Good Writers
Google can spot spam and paid links pretty easily. You therefore need solid content to ensure Google picks you up. For an optimal long-term SEO strategy, make sure you have great content both on your website, as well as across other sites. Guest blogging is a good choice here, but a good idea is to go after blogs and sites that are not necessarily direct matches to your industry.
5) Schema.org, Microformats and Rich Snippets
Schema.org is a set of website standards that inform search engines what your website is about, which makes it easier for those engines to read your site’s data and index appropriately.
Try using rich snippets, for example. With them, you can tell Google what information to use in SERPs. This added data will up your click-through rate, as users will be able to preview more about the link before they decide to click it.
6) Data is Vital
Irrespective of the size of your business, you need results. Even though ranking reports of keywords is definitely still a good indicator of progress, user-specific searches make it more difficult to get the most accurate readings. Moreover, when Google defaulted to private searches for users who are signed into their personal Google accounts, the company made it more difficult to track how people get to your site.
A good idea is to start relying more on key performance indicators (KPIs) to get results, for example, for the amount of landing pages you have and the bounce rate of these pages, as well as the number keywords that drive traffic to each of those pages. Use Google Analytics, as it displays all this data.