The Current State of Search Engine Optimization

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To an extent, companies can achieve some level of search engine optimization by producing useful, relevant content that users appreciate. After all, the changes in search algorithms over time have attempted to evaluate the merits of web pages in much the same way that people do. Understanding the intricacies of search engines and adjusting your quality content to fine-tune performance increases SERP. In essence, write for humans and adapt to search engines.

The current perspective on SEO is quite different from that of its early days, when success was primarily based on your ability to efficiently use keywords and earn backlinks. While these elements still play a role, they have been mitigated substantially by adjustments by Google and others. Keywords have taken a back seat to sensible, useful and thorough content, and only quality links contribute to strong SERP. In short, if users like your content, search engines probably do as well.

Major Search Engines

In the world of search engines, it is Google and everyone else. It has been that way, for the most part, since the company was incorporated on September 4th, 1998, by Stanford University Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It became a public company in August 2004.

Currently, Google controls more than 78 percent of online search market share. Baidu, a Chinese web services firm, controls 11 percent of the global market share. They achieve this threshold primarily because Google search functions are blocked in China. Bing generates over 5 percent of searches, followed by Yahoo! at about 3.3 percent. No other search platform is above a 1-percent market share. For these reasons, most of the SEO conversation centers on aligning with Google’s algorithm. Some attention should be given to Bing factors, although success with Google often correlates well to strong Bing positions.

Global Search Engine Market Share

Google versus Bing for SEO

As the two dominant global platforms outside of China, consider the following points of delineation between Google and Bing:

Google

  • Heavy use of artificial intelligence
  • Still some emphasis on keywords and semantics
  • Quality is primary
  • Traffic duration on-site is important

Bing

  • Limited use of artificial intelligence
  • Social integrated search

In addition to the Webmaster tools discussed previously, both Google and Bing provide help centers to assist site operators in meeting the standards of search engine acceptance and preference. Bear in mind, that search engines have always been a bit leery about the context of SEO. They do not want people gaming algorithms to reach high SERP, causing users to suffer with low-quality results. However, they do offer some insights on meeting their quality standards.

China Search Engine Market Share

Key Facts about Google SEO

A search engine is a database. As opposed to internal databases that offer limited access, Google gives Internet users worldwide access to its database of stored web pages. When a user submits a query into the search portal, Google’s algorithm instantly pulls up and delivers the best matches to that query.

The following are some key insights to help you better understand Google’s search engine:

  • Algorithm Factors: Google has indicated that there are more than 200 factors in its algorithm, which matches queries to results. An exact number is not known, and it likely changes often.
  • Algorithm Changes: Typical marketing novices would say that Google updates its algorithm annually or bi-annually. However, these “updates” are the major changes announced publicly by the company. Quietly, Google adjusts its algorithm 500 to 600 times per year, according to Moz. These changes enhance the capabilities of delivering optimal results, and allow the search engine to stay ahead of those hoping to gain understanding to leverage the key ingredients to SEO.
  • Penalties: In addition to its automated system of assign SERP, Google implements manual penalties on websites that it deems in violation of its terms of use. In particular, it targets spammy sites that use Black Hat tactics to manipulate or trick the search engine and users. Webmasters receive penalty notification through Tools, and must submit a “Reconsideration Request” after resolving the issues to Google’s satisfaction.

Conclusions

This is a basic look at the current state of SEO to help you evaluate whether your website is well-positioned to drive organic search results. In particular, you should prioritize factors that contribute to success in Google search results!

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About the Author: Neil Kokemuller

Neil Kokemuller is a veteran college marketing professor with an MBA. He has also been a freelance business and marketing content writer and website creator since 2008.

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