New Google, New SEO
- April 17, 2013
- by James Lowery
Google then and now
Larry Page thinks big and he thinks differently. Back in 1996 when he and Sergey Brin were working together on a project at Stanford University, he recognised that the research they were carrying out to categorise information in libraries could be applied to the web, and that the graph of citations that connected information in books was analogous to the graph of links that connected pages of websites. This realisation developed into PageRank, PageRank developed into Google, and Google became the dominant power in the online space.
Fast-forward a decade from those tentative first steps and the same lateral thinking was displayed again as Page and his team began to recognise that there was a second layer of connectivity on the web; people. ‘Networked people’ displayed many of the same traits as networked pages, and PageRank once again provided the ability to make sense of a highly complex map of relationships and provide the ability to personalise the experience that people had and make the web more relevant.
Pretty much every change we’ve seen coming out of Mountain View since Larry Page took over as CEO in April 2011 has been about building a social graph to supplement the link graph so that Google could provide answers to questions that weren’t just the generally most relevant answer, but were also the individually most relevant answer.
A different approach
The Page era at Google requires a different approach to SEO. Historically, SEO was confrontation and now it is all about collaboration. The focus has moved away from the algorithm and back to the user. As Google collects more information about each user, they’ll be capable of taking their network relationships and individual interests and overlaying this information onto the baseline provided by the algorithm. Search results are no longer for everyone; they are for each one.
Google’s guidelines for webmasters have always been to create content for users. Their algorithm has now caught up with this ideal. If you want to be successful in natural search in 2013 and beyond, it’s no longer enough to build links, you need to build relationships with your audience through engaging, rich experiences that people will want to share naturally. Organisations with a clear understanding and appreciation of their audience, the ability to create an experience that appeals to their expectations and an SEO strategy that creates content focused on the social graph will increasingly find that they are successful in natural search.
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