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Understanding The Four Future Pillars Of SEO

A statue in front of a building.

Search engine optimization has been around since the early days of the internet, but it’s changed significantly over time. As the internet evolves, so do the search engine algorithms which determine your site’s rank on their results pages – long gone are the days when the inclusion of certain keywords meant overnight success for your store. We’ve put together a brief guide to tomorrow's four pillars of SEO in order to help you improve your site’s rank on search engine results pages.

Pillar #1: The RankBrain Algorithm

RankBrain is one of Google’s most important ranking factors, although few understand how it works. In fact, even Google has stated they don’t fully understand how RankBrain works – making it even harder for us to grasp its full potential.

The RankBrain algorithm may be somewhat of an enigma, but we do know a few important things about how it works – or rather, how it doesn’t work. RankBrain doesn’t take the following into account when ranking websites:

  • Backlink quality
  • Content quality
  • Click-through rate

Industry leaders agree about RankBrain’s growing importance: we may not understand it yet, but it’s playing an increasingly important role in SEO.

Pillar #2: Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Remember when “mobile-friendly” web pages were all the rage? People are making millions of searches on their mobile devices day after day, and as a result well-performing mobile pages are growing in relevance.

Google introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) earlier in 2016. As of writing, there are over 150 million AMP documents in Google’s index – a small fraction of the index as a whole. Google is encouraging mainstream companies like eBay and Bing to move AMPs (instead of their already-existing mobile-friendly pages) in order to set a precedent for other eCommerce stores on the web.

Very few people know about AMPs as of this survey, but Google says this new type of mobile web experience is here to stay. AMPs will play an important role in the future of SEO, and you’ll want to understand it to get ahead with your Shopify store.

Pillar #3: Google’s Knowledge Graph

In 2012, Google released a tool known as the Knowledge Graph. According to Google, the goal of the Knowledge Graph is to organize the world’s information and make it easily accessible to everyone. The information is gathered from a “wide variety of sources,” including major collections of data like Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook.

What does this mean for your business? Many of Google’s search queries do not have “rich answers” in the Knowledge Graph format. Google is looking for rich answers to more queries in order to improve the user’s search experience. Imagine a SERP where your business is featured with accurate, detailed information – right on the search engine results page! Your shoppers could see information about your brand without needing to click on your link.

How can you make this happen? It’s not a straightforward process, but you can influence what Google’s has to say about your brand in a number of ways – check out these guides by Propecta and Kapost to learn more.

Pillar #4: Penalty Filters

Very recently, Google updated its Penguin algorithm – the algorithm which determines punishments and penalties for poor web pages.

Penguin was updated to work in real time, penalizing websites as it re-crawls and re-indexes pages according to search queries. This allows Google to fight spam and imposters automatically – making it more difficult for spammers and poor quality blogs to gain any traction.

This is an excellent change for ethical store owners, as it helps them compete amongst each other more equally instead of with spammers for the top spot on Google’s SERPs.

What Does This Mean for Your Business?

SEO is always changing, and as an eCommerce owner you should be ready to adapt accordingly. Google’s algorithms used to focus on content, but these new features show how they’re moving into another direction. By following these changes as they occur, you can prepare your business and your website for the future of search engine optimization.

What are your thoughts on the future of SEO? Let us know in the comments below!

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