Search Engine Optimization has taken an interesting turn. As Google, MSN, and Yahoo continue to improve their search listings, web designers are finding it harder to get their websites as a top listing in these search engines. Google is leading the charge to focus their search results to exactly what the consumer is trying to find, and they are getting really good. The more they study, develop and spend on optimization, the harder it gets to improve your search engine ranking. The rankings are no longer based on your website’s behavior, but on the behavior of your consumers. The future of SEO is turning towards the direction of Consumer Driven Optimization.
In the early days of search engines, they took your word for it. They looked at your meta-tags, titles, and content, and then used them to decide what your page focus was. Now, search engines largely ignore items that can be controlled by the website developer, because of the artificial inflation of the results. Search engines have become smarter at providing the consumer what they want to find. They use top secret and complicated formulas to create rankings. These formulas consider websites popularity, referrals, credibility, content, and most importantly, whether or not they satisfy the consumer’s needs.
If a person searching for electronics types in "electronics", overstock.com comes up first along with amazon.com, bestbuy.com, and walmart.com. The consumer is faced with a choice of which website to visit. If more people choose bestbuy.com than overstock.com, bestbuy.com will begin moving up the list. If the same person does not like what they find at bestbuy.com and goes back to look at overstock.com, amazon.com, and walmart.com, then the consumer was not ultimately satisfied with their search until they get to the last result. If the consumer stops searching after they visit a page, then we can assume they found what they were looking for and the last place searched will move up the list. The actual formulas used by Google, MSN, and Yahoo are far more complex than this, but, as you can see, search engine technology no longer relies on the information in your page.
The focus is Consumer Driven Optimization, and it is really exciting as a consumer. Google is trying to read your mind. They are spending millions of dollars in research to provide you with the exact website for which you are searching. Google can keep track of everything you have ever searched for, which sites you like best, and make inferences to which other similar sites you will like in the future. Big brother? Maybe, but this brother wants to help you save time, money, and trouble. So far Google has lead the charge for privacy, and has kept all of its results and search equations very top secret.
So how do web designers improve results if they can’t just stuff keywords all over the page anymore? Well, even more interesting than Google reading your mind, they are also forcing web designers to make better web pages. Instead of trying to cheat the system and inflate a bad website's search ranking, the designer must now create a higher quality website which will attract consumers, give them the information they are looking for, and get them to come back.
Referrals are very important to these new search rankings. Every website that links to your page is considered as a positive referral for your site. The more people that visit you, link to you, return often, and refer your information, the higher your search results will be.
That’s it! There is no secret formula for success on the web anymore, except the one that has been around longer than the Internet. You have to offer consumers something they want. You have to aggressively market yourself to new consumers. You have to research your consumer’s behavior, and modify your technique. You have to do the hard work of growing a business and reputation consumers and search engines will trust. Sorry to disappoint. The good news is that you can quit wasting money on search engine submission and SEO techniques that no longer work. The bad news is that you have work to do, and it is not easy.