Those Who Do Not Learn From The Past Are Doomed To Have Poor Search Value
November 4th, 2014 by
If you’re reading this blog you’re probably already aware that Google has been busy updating their algorithms. If you work in the Internet marketing industry you may be on edge, cowering at the very mention of any animal whose name begins with the letter P. Ever since the first Panda update in 2012, followed by the introduction of the infamous Penguin algorithm that laid waste to the search engine rankings of many a carefully formulated marketing campaigns, ended careers, crushed SEO companies, and changed the hierarchy of competing businesses across the globe, people have kept an ear to the ground for the approach of further updates.
Unfortunately, the secrets behind these algorithms are tightly guarded, and only general guidelines and information are provided to the public by the clandestine data giant, Google. So what are we to do? How can we avoid being penalized for our efforts and implement a lasting marketing strategy that won’t blow up in our faces like some Looney Toons derived Acme product?
Threading Through the Maze: Birth of the Search Engine
In search for the most strategic tactics to create a future-perfect website, I believe we must first visit the distant past, the primordial pre-digital world of 1945. Yes, its time for a flashback.
The heated global conflict of World War II has induced a brave new world of scientific development spurred on by allied nations sharing research to gain a technological edge in the war. In the wake of the conflict, a newly established international science community, having proven itself as an invaluable resource in every aspect of the war, is continuing to progress at an unprecedented rate. As the head of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development, Vannevar Bush, has been coordinating between a broad range of scientific disciplines from all over the world since 1941. Frustrated with the inefficiencies involved with sharing massive amounts of data between specialized fields of study, namely the inability to quickly find pertinent information, Bush devised a solution that he described in his essay As We May Think.
“The summation of human experience is being expanded at a prodigious rate, and the means we use for threading through the consequent maze to the momentarily important item is the same as was used in the days of square-rigged ships.”
Bush’s vision was to create a system that more naturally indexed information by association, implementing “associative trails” allowing a person to further explore particular ideas within an article as opposed to having to put down one resource to take up the search for information anew. He envisioned the ability to view multiple articles on a single screen, with the ability to add comments that could be stored and recalled with the article thereafter and the creation of links between related articles, allowing users to map out a network of information easily accessed and built upon by future users.
Of course, in that day, the technology did not exist to implement Bush’s machine. Bush’s device, the “Memex”, he proposed would use every 60’s spy film’s favorite storage format — microfilm. His vision inspired further development within the scientific community that above all other things resulted in streamlining the exchange of information making exponential leaps and bounds in development and implementation of new science possible.
Back to the Future
So you’re probably thinking at this point. “Awesome. A guy back in the 1940’s thought up something vaguely search-engine like. Great. Maybe next time I need to change the oil in my Nissan you can tell me about the inception of the steam engine.”
Okay. I like nerding out about history. Guilty as charged, but this brief walk through the annals of history does have some significance to the modern webmaster. As much as technology changes and improves, the demands that drive development remain unaltered. The desire for an intuitive means to access a large network of information led to a series of advancements that reshaped modern society.
The entire history and continued development of search engines lies within the scientific community as an effective means to index and provide relevant information to those that are looking for it. Every search engine adheres to these concepts and despite the negative association with algorithm updates in the Internet marketing community these updates are, at the very least, intended to improve on Google’s ability to provide the most relevant and desirable information to the user.
For those looking to the future, bare in mind that Google isn’t just getting better at devising its algorithms and penalizing what it interprets to be undesirable marketing practices, Google also provides ever increasing access to information and incorporates more user behavior into how they determine the validity of a website. As the #1 search engine in the world, and largest provider of analytics solutions, Google has access to massive amounts of user data which is being actively used to determine search rankings. While you can fool search engine crawlers and automated ranking processes, Internet users of today are savvy, experienced, and don’t take kindly to spammy or misleading marketing practices.
Preparing for the Inevitable
The oversimplified answer to how to implement a website that will succeed on the search engines, and continue to do so, is one that embraces the ideals on which Bush’s Memex was based and all search engines were built — to put useful information into the hands of the people that are looking for it.
STEP 1: To best do this, the important first step is determining what information your clients need and want most. Don’t get tripped up analyzing at this part of the process. Think simple. If it’s a product you’re selling, generally a wealth of user reviews on the Internet will tell of the user’s opinions and desires. Tap into these for inspiration.
STEP 2: Next, create original, well-written and researched content. The content should provide users with the information they are looking for, clearly labeled and organized to enable a user to quickly find the tidbits that are most relevant to their search. Updating or adding to this information often is important. Keeping your site current and error-free will help continue visits to your site and an upward progression in ranks.
Step 3: In addition to text, it’s important to provide high-quality images, videos, and other media, and it’s even more important to label these properly. The more original media you provide the better.
Step 4: Established social media sites and Internet communities relevant to your industry are important places to have a presence in order to connect directly with potential clients and establish your site’s authority.
I know these tips are nothing new. These are the time-tested practices for Internet success that have barely changed since the genesis of the Internet.
I understand the general reaction to algorithm updates. It’s crushing to struggle up the ranks using all your know-how just to have those efforts ripped to pieces. And when battling for exposure in the dog-eat-dog world of marketing, many, if not most, will turn to any competitive advantage they can muster.
It’s important to realize, however, that with regular updates occurring that further marginalize the gains of shady marketing practices, anyone looking for more than a flash in the pan needs to embrace the ideals from which the search engine was born and connect people to the information they are looking for.