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Modern SEO and Google: What Matters Most?

Modern SEO and Google: What Matters Most?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) has come a long way over the past decade. With Google processing over 99,000 searches every second, appearing on that coveted first page is more competitive than ever. You may wonder: What does it take to rank highly in 2024? Well, buckle up, friend. We're going on a journey into the current world of SEO and how Google dictates success.

Google's Constantly Changing Algorithm

Video Thumbnail: Google August 2023 Algorithm Update: What You Need To Know

Google is notoriously tight-lipped about revealing too much about how its algorithm works. What we do know is that it employs a complex combination of factors, including:

  • Page speed and performance
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Security protocols like HTTPS
  • Quality backlinks pointing to your site
  • Engaging and useful content

The specifics behind the algorithm are Google's secret sauce. But they confirm when major updates roll out, such as the recent Helpful Content Update in 2022.

Staying abreast of these updates is critical for SEO success. Because what worked yesterday may falter tomorrow if Google decides those factors no longer help searchers. Being nimble and adapting to changes will serve you well.

The Shift Toward Searcher Intent and Understanding Queries

In the early days, SEO focused heavily on keyword targeting. But Google has steered toward understanding searcher intent rather than just matching keywords. Their systems now grasp the underlying meaning behind queries to better match pages to what searchers want.

Let's break things down:

  • Keyword targeting focuses on packing pages with specific keywords, often awkwardly for the reader.
  • Searcher intent focuses on creating pages that provide value for various query intents using natural language.

For example, say you sell brownies optimised initially for “buy brownies.” That keyword-targeting approach may no longer cut it. Instead, it would be best if you had pages fulfilling searches for:

  • Where to buy brownies near me
  • Mail-order brownies nationwide
  • Best bakery brownies in [City]
  • Homemade fudgy brownie recipe

And so on. Each query has a different searcher intent behind it. Optimising for this proves more valuable in the long run.

The Need for Speed: Page Experience Matters More Than Ever

29 Google Speed Report

Slow page speed has consequences. In 2018, Google first rolled out page experience as a ranking factor, specifically on mobile searches.

In mid-2021, they expanded this to all devices, emphasising page experience even more. Metrics like Core Web Vitals now actively impact rankings for desktop and mobile.

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By the Numbers:

  • 53% of users will leave a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load
  • A 100ms delay in response can hurt conversion rates by 7%
  • Optimising site speed could increase revenue by over 15%

Page speed optimisation should now be standard practice. Tackling elements like images, code efficiency, and third-party tools can go a long way toward faster load times.

Crafting Content That Ranks Well in Modern SEO

We know now that matching keywords isn't enough anymore. The content itself needs to hit a few key elements:

Relevance

This one may seem obvious – but it bears emphasising more than ever. With the searcher intent focus, pages must directly relate to what searchers want to find based on query meaning.

Depth & Uniqueness

Generic, thin content just doesn't cut it these days. Creating in-depth pages with unique value builds authority and trust with search engines.

Multimedia

Integrating visual media like images, graphics, and videos improves user experience. Google values UX, so multimedia elements can help pages gain visibility.

Actionability

Providing specific advice or steps users can take helps searchers apply what they find immediately. Catering to this need for actionable content makes you more visible.

Follow these content quality guidelines, and you'll craft pages bound to attract searchers – and Googlebot.

Link Building: The Cornerstone of SEO That Still Matters

Google Ranking Factors Backlinks

Google confirms that links remain one of the most vital ranking signals – when done correctly. Spammy, manipulative link practices like buying links or low-quality farms will only hurt you.

But organically earned backlinks from reputable websites continue boosting authority. Getting mentions on trustworthy, relevant sites indicates you offer something worthwhile.

While link numbers matter, focus more on cultivating links from quality sites targeting your niche. A few strong links can mean more than mass accumulations of irrelevant links.

Link-Building Tactics That Work:

  • Earn press mentions by distributing valuable research, data, or perspectives.
  • Create link-worthy assets like online tools, calculators, or resource pages.
  • Publish guest posts by pitching high-authority sites related to your industry.
  • Promote great content that others want to share or reference.

You can uphold your SEO foundations by employing honest, quality link-earning strategies.

Leveraging Multiple Search Platforms

Though Google dominates search, it doesn't exist in a vacuum. Optimising for Bing and Yahoo also widens your discoverability.

Reddit offers SEO potential now, too. Positioning your brand on relevant Reddit subs could expand your reach to active communities. Their built-in search makes sifting past threads easy – allowing new Redditors to discover your brand if you contribute valuable dialogue.

Most importantly – don't make Google your only SEO focus:

  • Diversify efforts across search engines for a broader web presence
  • Consider Reddit – The fastest-growing search engine among Gen Z users

Voice Search Optimisation Emerges

Voice Search Optimization Min

Here's an eye-opening user behaviour stat:

By 2020, voice search queries will account for 50 per cent of all searches.” – Comscore.

We've hit 2024 – voice tech keeps advancing, especially with AI integrations. Soon, vocal queries may surpass keyboard searches.

Optimising for featured snippets displays also taps into this voice search boom. That coveted position includes the page summary Google might read aloud to vocal searchers.

To tackle voice queries:

  • Use natural speech questions and phrases
  • Focus on conversational long-tails
  • Feature answers upfront

Vocal searchers demand fast, fuss-free responses spoken conversationally. Craft content meeting that need to thrive in a voice-first world.

The Mobile Movement Mandates Optimisation

Let's check the mobile usage scoreboard:

  • 60% of Google searches occur on mobile devices
  • ~50% increase in mobile site visits in 2022 alone
  • Improved mobile speeds boosted revenue by ~13%

Fumbling on mobile can crush conversions. With tablets, smartphones, and smartwatches – mobility hits all fronts.

Prioritising mobile optimisation is mandatory through:

  • Responsive site design
  • Accelerated mobile pages
  • App integration
  • Voice search readiness
  • Seamless UX, regardless of the device

Users and Google now expect sites to offer excellent mobile experiences. Adapt accordingly or risk defeat.

Premium SEO Solutions Emerge

Basic SEO packages now fail against this increasingly sophisticated web search landscape. Enterprises require elevated solutions up to today's challenges.

Next-level strategies like:

  • Custom AI-powered analytics
  • Predictive search intelligence
  • Conversion leveraging campaigns
  • True omnichannel optimisation

Deliver real competitive advantages via:

  • Futureproofing assets
  • Maximising opportunities-to-see
  • Conquering rank barriers

Leading managed SEO providers now integrate such innovations into bundles for enduring dominance.

Maintaining Ethical SEO Standards

Saas Seo Guide 2023 2024

With ever-evolving SEO and more competition than ever, some may feel tempted to cut corners. Yet unethical practices ultimately backfire under closer scrutiny.

Steer clear of techniques like:

  • Hidden text crammed with keywords
  • Shady links from sketchy websites
  • Sneaky redirects or page cloaking
  • Scraping content from others

Instead, focus on:

  • Creating genuinely helpful, honest content, not gaming search rankings
  • Building relationships with real sites relevant to your industry
  • Delivering actual value to searchers in need of your products or services

Upholding ethical standards preserves your integrity and SEO success for a long time.

Expert Guidance Navigates the SEO Journey

Considering everything we've covered, SEO may seem utterly complex for those without mastery. And amid endless Google updates, gaining expert guidance can prove invaluable for brands.

SEO advisors assist such as:

  • Analysis of metrics revealing growth opportunities
  • Ongoing campaign optimisation aligned to the latest algorithm shifts
  • Testing and expanding into newer emerging channels
  • Budget and resource planning tailored to your goals

While DIY SEO remains viable for some, most industry leaders connect with specialists. Their keen eyes spot what amateurs miss for excelling through mounting complexities.

Consistent Optimisation and Agility Are Key

Like the winding road, SEO takes commitment, savvy, and agility to navigate successfully long-term. Consider these closing tips:

  • Stay vigilant with Google algorithm update tracking
  • Keep pages fresh and fast through relentless optimisation
  • Build loyal communities that heighten awareness organically
  • Watch for the next big wave, like AI search or augmented reality, to ride new opportunities

Only through embracing flexibility amid relentless change will your brand journey ahead – survive and thrive.

In Summary – Mastering Modern SEO

  • Keyword targeting no longer suffices – understanding searcher intent behind queries proves vital.
  • Pages must load lightning-fast now to drive engagement and conversions.
  • High-quality multimedia content that uniquely solves needs earns relevance and links.
  • Broadening scope beyond Google expands exposure across more discovery channels.
  • Mobility and voice search demand optimised conversational experiences.
  • Premium-managed SEO solutions deliver sophisticated advantages.
  • Upholding ethics and optimising consistently sustain a modern SEO foundation built to last.

I hope this tour through critical facets of modern SEO and Google offers some beneficial guidance! Now you know today's core ranking factors, emerging spaces opening opportunities, and how custom-managed strategies confer leverage over these mounting complexities. Feel free to reach out with any other SEO questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the latest Google algorithm updates?

Some of the latest major Google updates include the Helpful Content Update, Multimedia Update, Product Reviews Update, and Passage Indexing Update. Stay updated on critical releases through blogs like Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Roundtable.

How often should you optimise existing content?

Ideally, revisit old content every six months to refresh elements like title/meta descriptions, update statistics/references, improve page speed elements, and assess if you need to expand or refine details.

What metrics best indicate SEO success?

Beyond rankings themselves, they also monitor clickthrough rates, time on site/pages, traffic by source and device, and conversion rates stemming from organic search. Compile analytics across indicators.

How much does expert SEO management cost on average?

SEO costs vary widely based on needs, markets, contract lengths, etc. But average around $1,500-$2,500 monthly for mid-level SEO advising, consulting, campaign management and reporting across multi-channel efforts.

Why invest in technical SEO elements like site speed?

With metrics like page speed now actively influencing search rankings, overlooking speed optimisation directly hurts discoverability and conversion potential. Users expect speedy experiences – technical SEO delivers.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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