Search Optimization Trends

The only people who really know what the rules of search are going to be in the future are the people at Google who are working on the search algorithm updates.

Their search algorithm is so complex, I wonder if any one person understands all of it. I suspect it’s literally true that no one person knows all the rules.

Independent of how well the people at Google know these rules, the rest of us have to infer them based on what Google tells us they’re planning to do, and on our observations of what Google has already started doing.

Bear in mind they do sometimes change their mind (Authorship being a great example of that), but for the core principals of search, they have been very consistent for many years.

The list of search optimization trends below, like the list from everybody else, is not definitive as Google does not give me inside information. Based on what they’ve been saying and doing, they are safe predictions.

Continued Focus on Content Quality

Per Google, the #1 criteria for content being of high quality is it’s usefulness. Content which is useful to people doing online searches is high quality. The more useful, the higher. Content that is not useful is of low quality.

You may not know this but Google hires human raters to help them identify the quality of sites and webpages based on how useful the information on the site and webpages are.

The only exception to this is webpages that are “official”. If you search for FBI, the webpage will  have the highest ranking independent of it’s quality, because it is the official site of the FBI.

Responsive Design

This isn’t so much a search criteria, but as more and more of us do searches on our mobile phones, your site needs to display well on a mobile phone for the user to make use of it. A site that lays out beautifully within a browser, but is hard to navigate and use on a smart phone or table will slowly lose out.


This is an easy prediction. Google owns search. Google owns Google+. Google can make Google+ more relevant by tying it to search results in some way. They’ve been doing this for the past few years. Expect this trend to continue.

Concepts over Keywords

This ties back to the continued focus on content quality. The Hummingbird updates to the Google algorithm are moving us all towards more natural language search and away from keyword phrases.

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