You don’t need a Palantir to predict the future of SEO; just follow the money.
Google is first and foremost an ad network. Everything they do with search is designed to get more eyeballs, more ad-clicks, and more revenue.
They’ve been making a killing at it, too.
Google has grown explosively, claiming almost half the market share in online advertising and outstripping revenue from domestic print media altogether.
The Secret to Google’s Success
Google’s ability to deliver relevant, trustworthy search results is what keeps all of us coming back.
Paid ads fall under this category too, which is why they have a “Quality Score” to reward relevance and punish spammers. But general distrust of advertisers means the free results are even more important to Google’s success — as well as the success of those who can rank well.
Algorithmic changes have helped with this: the infamous Panda and Penguin updates filter out spammy sites and elevate more deserving ones. But even those changes only affected a tiny fraction of search results.
Content is the Real Core of Search
Without valuable, targeted content, Google can’t deliver on their promise of relevant search results.
That means that the most important part of users’ experience is outside Google’s control. They’ve never been a publisher and they don’t seem to be angling to become one.
That’s why Google has always loudly advocated for great content and worked to demote poor content. Without great content, users will go elsewhere — and so will their ad revenue.
Now that Google has found more effective ways of removing spammy content, marketers are switching tactics. Content marketing has largely replaced obsolete strategies.
Why the Shift to Content Marketing is Good for Everyone
This is what Google wanted all along — and it’s to everyone’s advantage. The rush to produce targeted, valuable and engaging content is translating into a better experience for users and businesses alike.
Looking back, this confirms what many SEOs predicted would happen way back in SEOmoz’s 2011 ranking factors survey.
User experience and social signals are finally starting to receive the priority we all think they deserve.
What This Means for Marketers
It means that content is still king, now more than ever — but not just any content.
Companies that produce content laser-targeted to users’ needs are the ones that rise to the top.
I’ve seen that proven over and over. When we help clients hone in on unique topics and provide real value for readers, they consistently rank higher and claim more traffic than the competition. There’s no dearth of topics to be tackled, either.
According to Google, “15% of searches we see everyday we’ve never seen before.”
That’s a huge opportunity for marketers to tap into lucrative niches, add value for visitors, and establish credibility.
Social media marketing can support these efforts.
Not only does it provide an avenue for promoting content that impacts visibility in search, it also helps build direct relationships with clients and consumers — real, loyal, lasting relationships.
Personally, I’m glad to see the industry focusing on what really matters: adding value to the community and building strong, lasting relationships with those around us.
This is the direction search has always been headed in, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.