Lately there has been more and more insight into the death of SEO Rankings. While the SEO has been reeling from the Panda and Penguin updates from Google, it seems that even without that, what are “real” search rankings are changing daily. The idea that you can “rank” higher than your competitor by link building and other tricks is not at all true, and the entire SEO game has changes.
The real issue here is personalization. As the fine folk at MarkingProfs put it:
Personalization is now forced on users of Google and Bing if they are not logged in. When logged in, you have the option to turn personalization off—if you are aware of the possibility, and have an idea where to turn it off. (See the two paired gray buttons in the upper-right-hand corner of the screenshot? The globe icon means “un-personalized” and the person icon means “personalized”).
Therefore, a ranking report is now an indicator of relevance, not a metric for judging the average click-through rate of a listing in position X or to determine what your traffic should be.
How do you reach searchers in your market if Google is changing the way the online search game is played? The answer is… engagement—via social and website content, and via advertising.
Basically, what they are saying is that engagement is more and more important when it comes to search rankings. The more times someone clicks on your site, the more time they engage your site both through social media and other functions, the more times it will show up in their personalized search rankings.
How does Search now work? Well, Tom Shmitz wrote a few months ago in Search Engine Land the following analysis:
What you see in the Google search results and what I see, for the exact same query, are likely to be two different sets of results, thanks to:
- Personalized search results based on our own search history
- Influenced search results based on our friends’ search histories
- Local search results
- Brand mentions in social media and on web pages
- Query deserves images, video, products, news or other types of search results
- Query deserves freshness
- Query deserves diversity
- Brand mentions on social media and the web
- Over 500 algorithm changes a year
Driving traffic initially to your site through other means is the BEST way to rank now? Yes. Basically if you can acquire more people going to your site over and over again, via Facebook, Twitter, Emailing and other means, you’ll find more and more organic traffic. This means that traditional marketing, such as banner advertising, email marketing and general great engagement techniques are more and more important.