3 Key Takeaways from SearchLove 2015

SEOs and business owners alike have a huge stake in the future of search. They must stay ahead of the curve while mitigating any negative impacts of the ever-evolving Google algorithm.

Industry leaders from across the globe gathered in San Diego to discuss and share strategies that align with these foreseeable changes and trends. While Google is nearing the day of understanding natural language, we as searchers are revolutionizing the way the engine delivers results through our own implicit information and intent signals.  SearchLove San Diego

Takeaway 1: Implicit vs. Explicit Signals

Tom Anthony from Distilled gave an example of how implicit signals are shaping the way we unconsciously search, and how we are providing less and less information because we have created an expectation that Google will know what we want.

Explicit aspect of a query: “San Diego Amtrak”

If someone were to search for “San Diego Amtrak,” a search engine would have to guess the searcher’s intent. But search engines are able to extract implicit aspects of a query (such as 1. on an iPhone, 2. on the intersection of Kettner and Broadway) to conclude that this particular person is most likely looking for a schedule of the trains coming into that particular station. Other implicit signals search engines utilize to get to know you and deliver the most personalized results are:

  • Search history
  • Compound searches
  • Location –GPS
  • Use of wearable technologies
  • Social connections
  • Time of day
  • What browser you are using

As cross-device analytics get more precise and more signals are picked up, Google will try to become the closest thing to a personal assistant many people will ever have.

Takeaway 2: Treat Mobile Differently Than Desktop

Helpful Tips to Keep in Mind When Optimizing for Mobile

  • Desktop vs. MobileDesktop should always be your default canonical
  • Search results vary based on:
    • Browser login status
    • Type of browser
    • Location status
    • Incognito view
    • Android vs. iPhone
    • Internet speed – bad connection
    • Etc.
  • Server speed and rendering takes a bigger toll on mobile sites than desktop
  • Hidden text and links are devalued

Takeaway 3: Optimize For What Would Happen if You Did Rank

Even if placing emphasis on keyword rankings is considered an “outdated” way of thinking, it still is a measure for success that brings a little gratification to those who are doing your SEO. But have you ever wondered what would happen if you did rank 1 or 2? Would it be because you deserve to be there and your content far surpasses the following results? Is your design and user experience top-notch? Are you answering the searchers’ intent?

Many times we create content that we think is “all that and a bag of chips;” however, what we don’t take into consideration are the implicit signals and the intent of thousands of different searchers. Wil Critchlow, from Distilled, suggests asking yourself the following questions. If your page were to rank:

  1. Would I click?
  2. Do I like what I see?
  3. Do I get what I want?

To close, SEO is just a big game that requires strategy, out-of-the-box thinking and practice to beat your competitors. So do your research, try different tactics, quantify your data and use testing to figure out what Google wants from your site.

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