PageRank and keyword obsession is fading away. Google is now pushing you to focus on understanding your target users, producing great content, establishing your authority and visibility, and providing a great experience for the users of your site.
Let’s take a few steps back and understand the big picture. Here's a look at the major developments, some of Google's initiatives driving this change, and the overall impact these changes will have on SEO.
1. '(Not Provided)'
Google made the move to make all organic searches secure starting September 23. This means we've lost the ability to get keyword data for users arriving to our websites from Google search.
Losing Google keyword data is sad for a number of reasons. This impacts publishers in many ways, including losing a valuable tool for understanding what the intent of customers that come to their site, for conversion optimization, and much more.
2. No PageRank Update Since February
Historically, Google has updated the PageRank numbers shown in the Google Toolbar every 3 months ago or so, but those numbers haven't been updated since February. This means 8 months have gone by, or two updates have been skipped.
There are a few elements to Google's Hummingbird algorithm, announced in time for Google's official birthday, but like Caffeine before it, this is really a major platform change. Google has built a capability to understand conversational search queries much better than before. The impact of this algorithm is likely to be quite substantial over the next 2 or so years. Net-net, they have drastically reduced access to the raw data, and are rolling out technology that changes the way it all works at the same time!
While it seemed to get off to a slow start initially, many argue that it has developed a lot of momentum, and is growing rapidly. The data on Google+'s market share is pretty hard to parse, but there are some clear impacts on search, such as the display of personalized results.
We won't delve into the specifics of how Author Rank might work now, but you can read "Want to Rank in Google? Build Your Author Rank Now" for my thoughts on ways they could look at that.
That said, in the future you can imagine that Google could use this as a ranking signal for queries where more comprehensive articles are likely to be a good response. Bottom line: your personal authority matters.
6. In-Depth Articles
The Google announcement included a statement that "up to 10% of users' daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic." That is a pretty big number, and I think over time that this feature will become a pretty big deal. Effectively, this is an entirely new type of way to rank in the SERPs.
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