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Keeping Up with Google
in 2014
Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz | @randfish | rand@moz.com
No Need to Take Notes:
http://bit.ly/keepupwithgoogle
The Challenge
500+ Algorithmic Changes Each Year

In 2012 alone, Google says they had 665 “launches” of new search-changing features
Innumerable Fluctuations in Search Results

On average, each month
8.5 of the top 10 will change
ranking position.

And every day, 78%
of search results have
some ranking change.
85+ Unique Types of SERPs
See dozens more unique SERPs in
Dr. Pete’s Mozcon Presentation

Beyond 10 Links on Slideshare (from Moz’s Dr. Peter Meyers)
Thousands of Entities are Competing to
Sell You an SEO Solution
Please never buy any of these.
You’ll have only yourself to blame
for the horrific results.
There’s New Information Every Day

Marketers are
constantly testing,
Google is
constantly
announcing, and
new discoveries
are constantly
being made.

Via 10 SEO Experiments
Why Bother Keeping Up?
The Opportunity vs. Execution Gap
In SEO, the Rich Get Richer

Top search ranking
positions don’t just
drive traffic…
They also earn clicks,
sales, shares,
branding, and links
that make it even
harder to outrank
them over time.
If You Used Manipulative Tactics or
Outsourced, There’s High Risk

Anchor text heavy link
building was once a staple of
SEO; now it’s a liability.

Two rec’d posts: Identifying Link Penalties and Guide to Penalty Removal
As a Marketer, Keeping Up is as
Important as Doing the Work
What Do We Absolutely
HAVE to Know?
Major Algorithmic Updates

This free resource from Moz shows every major, “named” update over the last 13 years
e.g. Panda

Panda appears to use user
satisfaction/happiness inputs to
remove sites searchers don’t like
from the SERPs.
e.g. Penguin

Factors like exact-match anchor text,
low quality link sources, and sitewide
links are often seen in sites
penalized by Penguin

Excellent analysis of factors correlated with sites hit by Penguin
e.g. Hummingbird?

Hummingbird promoted
results that are less about
perfect keyword targeting
and more about matching
the query’s intent.
Major Click-Biasing Changes

Via Eye Tracking SERPs from Dr. Pete
e.g. Instant Answers
With answers this complete, can
anyone get real search traffic for
these terms?
e.g. Knowledge Graph
e.g. Rel=Author Markup

These show up because
the writers have used
Google+’s rel=author
integration.
e.g. Google+ Based Personalization

This only ranks
because I follow
Cyrus on Google+
Major User Behavior Changes

Pew gives some nice, big picture data in their 2012 search engine use report
e.g. Mobile Search Behavior

“What are mobile searchers looking for? Both mobile
phone and tablet searchers find accuracy of information
to be more important than depth of content, according to
the researchers.
Tablet searchers, however, are placing more importance
on depth of content over time, while mobile phone
searchers are placing less importance on this measure.”

Via http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketingstatistics/ and http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/196826/
e.g. Load Speed Expectations

Via Google’s Site Speed Overview
e.g. CTR Curve Changes

Every year, the
distribution of clicks
becomes less
concentrated,
suggesting more
people scrolling
further to find what
they want.

Some of the SERPs CTR studies compared by Geoff Kenyon
Changes to Your Competitive Landscape

Via my Moz Analytics account
What Google’s History
Can Tell Us
Google of the Past Focused on Limited Inputs

I’m embarrassed to say that this is from a post I wrote in 2009! This pie chart, however, is much
more representative of SEO from ~1997-2007.
Google of the Future Will (try to) Consider Everything!

For more detail, check out this visual guide to on-page optimization and the 2013 search ranking factors
Google of the Past Had 10 Blue Links

Basic results like this
comprise less than 20% of
Google’s SERPs today.
Google of the Future is Visually Complex
SEO of the Past Was a Small Subset of
Mostly Technical Tasks
SEO of the Future Encompasses a Huge
Number of Responsibilities
SEO of the Past Was Tactical

Sadly, there’s still a lot of this in the SEO field.
SEO of the Future is Strategic

We are slowly, as an industry, moving in this direction.
Being an early adopter is a powerful thing 
3 Strategic & 3 Tactical Tips
for Great SEO in 2014
Strategic #1: Make Sure Your Marketing &
Product Tell a Cohesive Narrative.

Far too many of us in the marketing world do “transactional SEO.” We don’t think about why we’re making content
or getting rankings or earning traffic, and thus waste a ton of effort. Google’s Avinash Kaushik wrote an excellent
post detailing the “See. Think Do.” Model.
Strategic #1: Make Sure Your Marketing &
Product Tell a Cohesive Narrative.
Does the story you
tell here…

match the way you
market, sell, and deliver
results here?
Strategic #2: Determine Where SEO Really Fits in Your
Branding, Education, Conversion, & Retention Efforts?

What kinds of content &
rankings will bring the
right people to these
places at the right time?
Strategic #3: Don’t Build a Team of SEOs. Build a Team
of Great Marketers with Strong SEO Skills.

More details here: http://moz.com/rand/the-t-shaped-web-marketer/
Tactical #1: Worry About Earning the Click & Satisfying the
Visitor As Much Or More than Ranking Higher

If the snippet doesn’t excite searchers and the
page doesn’t deliver value, all the keyword
targeting, link building, & social sharing in the
world won’t save you.
Tactical #2: Better Content > More Content.
Facebook likes are well correlated with higher rankings, yet all
the evidence says Google doesn’t use Facebook directly?

See the full post from Eric Enge: Does Facebook Activity Impact SEO?
Tactical #3: Correlation might be more interesting than causation.

If you can discover what features your higherperforming competition has (in search, social, or
content), you’re likely on to something big.

More details here: http://moz.com/rand/what-do-correlation-metrics-really-tell-us-about-search-rankings/ and full
ranking factors here: http://moz.com/search-ranking-factors
Tactical #3: Correlation might be more interesting than causation.

E.g. I don’t care if Google doesn’t
use Facebook. I care because
content that gets Likes/Shares also
seems to get whatever stuff is
needed to rank better.

More details here: http://moz.com/rand/what-do-correlation-metrics-really-tell-us-about-search-rankings/ and full
ranking factors here: http://moz.com/search-ranking-factors
SEO in 2014 is much more
than just “SEO.”
But every SEO skill you’ve
built from 1997-2013 remains
valuable & necessary.
Keeping Up with Google in 2014

http://bit.ly/keepupwithgoogle
Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz @randfish | rand@moz.com

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Keeping Up with Google's Insane Pace of Change

  • 1. Keeping Up with Google in 2014 Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz | @randfish | rand@moz.com
  • 2. No Need to Take Notes: http://bit.ly/keepupwithgoogle
  • 4. 500+ Algorithmic Changes Each Year In 2012 alone, Google says they had 665 “launches” of new search-changing features
  • 5. Innumerable Fluctuations in Search Results On average, each month 8.5 of the top 10 will change ranking position. And every day, 78% of search results have some ranking change.
  • 6. 85+ Unique Types of SERPs
  • 7. See dozens more unique SERPs in Dr. Pete’s Mozcon Presentation Beyond 10 Links on Slideshare (from Moz’s Dr. Peter Meyers)
  • 8. Thousands of Entities are Competing to Sell You an SEO Solution Please never buy any of these. You’ll have only yourself to blame for the horrific results.
  • 9. There’s New Information Every Day Marketers are constantly testing, Google is constantly announcing, and new discoveries are constantly being made. Via 10 SEO Experiments
  • 11. The Opportunity vs. Execution Gap
  • 12. In SEO, the Rich Get Richer Top search ranking positions don’t just drive traffic… They also earn clicks, sales, shares, branding, and links that make it even harder to outrank them over time.
  • 13. If You Used Manipulative Tactics or Outsourced, There’s High Risk Anchor text heavy link building was once a staple of SEO; now it’s a liability. Two rec’d posts: Identifying Link Penalties and Guide to Penalty Removal
  • 14. As a Marketer, Keeping Up is as Important as Doing the Work
  • 15. What Do We Absolutely HAVE to Know?
  • 16. Major Algorithmic Updates This free resource from Moz shows every major, “named” update over the last 13 years
  • 17. e.g. Panda Panda appears to use user satisfaction/happiness inputs to remove sites searchers don’t like from the SERPs.
  • 18. e.g. Penguin Factors like exact-match anchor text, low quality link sources, and sitewide links are often seen in sites penalized by Penguin Excellent analysis of factors correlated with sites hit by Penguin
  • 19. e.g. Hummingbird? Hummingbird promoted results that are less about perfect keyword targeting and more about matching the query’s intent.
  • 20. Major Click-Biasing Changes Via Eye Tracking SERPs from Dr. Pete
  • 21. e.g. Instant Answers With answers this complete, can anyone get real search traffic for these terms?
  • 23. e.g. Rel=Author Markup These show up because the writers have used Google+’s rel=author integration.
  • 24. e.g. Google+ Based Personalization This only ranks because I follow Cyrus on Google+
  • 25. Major User Behavior Changes Pew gives some nice, big picture data in their 2012 search engine use report
  • 26. e.g. Mobile Search Behavior “What are mobile searchers looking for? Both mobile phone and tablet searchers find accuracy of information to be more important than depth of content, according to the researchers. Tablet searchers, however, are placing more importance on depth of content over time, while mobile phone searchers are placing less importance on this measure.” Via http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketingstatistics/ and http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/196826/
  • 27. e.g. Load Speed Expectations Via Google’s Site Speed Overview
  • 28. e.g. CTR Curve Changes Every year, the distribution of clicks becomes less concentrated, suggesting more people scrolling further to find what they want. Some of the SERPs CTR studies compared by Geoff Kenyon
  • 29. Changes to Your Competitive Landscape Via my Moz Analytics account
  • 31. Google of the Past Focused on Limited Inputs I’m embarrassed to say that this is from a post I wrote in 2009! This pie chart, however, is much more representative of SEO from ~1997-2007.
  • 32. Google of the Future Will (try to) Consider Everything! For more detail, check out this visual guide to on-page optimization and the 2013 search ranking factors
  • 33. Google of the Past Had 10 Blue Links Basic results like this comprise less than 20% of Google’s SERPs today.
  • 34. Google of the Future is Visually Complex
  • 35. SEO of the Past Was a Small Subset of Mostly Technical Tasks
  • 36. SEO of the Future Encompasses a Huge Number of Responsibilities
  • 37. SEO of the Past Was Tactical Sadly, there’s still a lot of this in the SEO field.
  • 38. SEO of the Future is Strategic We are slowly, as an industry, moving in this direction. Being an early adopter is a powerful thing 
  • 39. 3 Strategic & 3 Tactical Tips for Great SEO in 2014
  • 40. Strategic #1: Make Sure Your Marketing & Product Tell a Cohesive Narrative. Far too many of us in the marketing world do “transactional SEO.” We don’t think about why we’re making content or getting rankings or earning traffic, and thus waste a ton of effort. Google’s Avinash Kaushik wrote an excellent post detailing the “See. Think Do.” Model.
  • 41. Strategic #1: Make Sure Your Marketing & Product Tell a Cohesive Narrative. Does the story you tell here… match the way you market, sell, and deliver results here?
  • 42. Strategic #2: Determine Where SEO Really Fits in Your Branding, Education, Conversion, & Retention Efforts? What kinds of content & rankings will bring the right people to these places at the right time?
  • 43. Strategic #3: Don’t Build a Team of SEOs. Build a Team of Great Marketers with Strong SEO Skills. More details here: http://moz.com/rand/the-t-shaped-web-marketer/
  • 44. Tactical #1: Worry About Earning the Click & Satisfying the Visitor As Much Or More than Ranking Higher If the snippet doesn’t excite searchers and the page doesn’t deliver value, all the keyword targeting, link building, & social sharing in the world won’t save you.
  • 45. Tactical #2: Better Content > More Content.
  • 46. Facebook likes are well correlated with higher rankings, yet all the evidence says Google doesn’t use Facebook directly? See the full post from Eric Enge: Does Facebook Activity Impact SEO?
  • 47. Tactical #3: Correlation might be more interesting than causation. If you can discover what features your higherperforming competition has (in search, social, or content), you’re likely on to something big. More details here: http://moz.com/rand/what-do-correlation-metrics-really-tell-us-about-search-rankings/ and full ranking factors here: http://moz.com/search-ranking-factors
  • 48. Tactical #3: Correlation might be more interesting than causation. E.g. I don’t care if Google doesn’t use Facebook. I care because content that gets Likes/Shares also seems to get whatever stuff is needed to rank better. More details here: http://moz.com/rand/what-do-correlation-metrics-really-tell-us-about-search-rankings/ and full ranking factors here: http://moz.com/search-ranking-factors
  • 49. SEO in 2014 is much more than just “SEO.”
  • 50. But every SEO skill you’ve built from 1997-2013 remains valuable & necessary.
  • 51. Keeping Up with Google in 2014 http://bit.ly/keepupwithgoogle Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz @randfish | rand@moz.com