SEO is less of a goal and more of an ongoing process likely to outlast us all. Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms, and it’s up to businesses to respond.
Remember Google’s Core Web Vitals?
I’ve talked about Google’s Core Web Vitals in this space many times before. They’re shaping up to be an important part of SEO going forward, and perfectly exemplify the trend of rewarding sites with an eye toward user experience.
The Core Web Vitals are:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): How long it takes for the site to load the biggest chunk of content on your site.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): How much (if at all) the various parts of the page move around as elements load.
- First Input Delay (FID): The length of time between when a user clicks on an element and the website responding.
Google has promised to give a six month warning before these become ranking elements, but it doesn’t hurt to address them now. All three are good gauges of user experience, and improving them should increase conversions.
Google’s goal? Prediction.
Google wants to give its users what they’re looking for. That keeps Google as the most used and trusted name in search engines. The engineers at Google have decided to do this with an investment in AI, specifically a machine-learning program called RankBrain and a natural language processor named BERT.
The first picks up implied context in a search query and more accurately give users what they’re looking for. As we’ve discussed many times, merely searching “cars” can lead users down a number of paths with entirely different goals. Once the search engine learns that a user is specifically shopping for cars, a more generic search is more likely to yield specific and helpful results, e.g. car dealership sites as opposed to Wikipedia entries on the internal combustion engine.
BERT is an attempt to get the machine to understand searches input in the way people talk. In other words, you won’t have to “translate” a search into simpler terms that the computer is more likely to understand. Google estimates that it affects 10% of all searches, which is hugely significant.
What does this mean for you? It means that keywords are no longer silver bullets in SEO. Further optimization is still being researched, but fundamentally, these changes are a good thing. The aim is to deliver active shoppers to dealership sites, and that kind of organic traffic is far more likely to result in a lead.
If not keywords, what’s the next frontier?
In a word, Answers. Google is looking to include featured snippets and collated information to answer questions posed by users. If a user asks a question of Google, the results will include sites with highlighted text that answers the question posed.
Put simply, a FAQ about car maintenance needs with a link to your service department isn’t the worst idea.
There are bound to be more trends in SEO, so keep an eye on this space for more information. And if you have any ideas on how to use these, sound off in the comments. We’re always interested in the perspectives of our readers.