SEO is in a constant state of flux. In fact, change is one of the only consistencies to search. Most often, the algorithm changes that affect search results have no true bearing on searchers. Or, at the very least, searchers do not notice the changes. The changes, however, are made for the searcher in an effort to serve up the most relevant results that engage searchers and keep them coming back to that specific engine.
The search engine wars were highlighted in a series of commercials beginning in 2009. Bing, a search engine created by Microsoft, entered the market by force with a mission to prove to searchers that they were more intuitive and “searcher-oriented” than Google or Yahoo. This proved to be one of the first times that searchers became interested in the way search works and the actual results that were appearing on their screens. It led to comparisons between the search engines, and the way they use SEO began to really come into play. A 2012 set of Bing commercials further brought search engines to the forefront with the “Bing it On” challenge. Their argument was the Google was a habit, but that Bing was actually a more useful search engine. It might have muddied the waters a bit, but Google still reigned supreme.
Google’s algorithms now set the tone for the SEO industry. When changes are made, they reverberate through the industry and strategy changes are made quickly to adapt. The most recent Google change involves security and ensures more privacy for searchers. But, it creates a huge hurdle for internet marketing firms working diligently to provide top search result listings for clients.
Keyword research has always been, and will continue to be, a part of SEO. Keywords refer to the actual verbiage that a searcher types into a search engine when trying to find information. Through Google Analytics, SEO companies could research trends in keywords and note subtle changes in search that could make a huge difference on a campaign. The service is free, but there was always a bit of missing information.
In late 2011, Google employed encrypted searches for anyone who was logged into a Google account while searching. Because of Google’s other service offerings (Chrome, Gmail, Drive, etc.) this accounted for a large portion of people. With this encryption, searchers’ queries were blocked and listed as “not provided” through Google Analytics. As more and more people created logins for Google searches, the number of “not provided” responses realized a steady increase. Steady, that is, until early September of this year when a huge spike showed as many as 75 percent of search terms being withheld.