Ranking number one on search engine results used to be the “be all, end all” for marketers. This is no longer the case. Users have changed, the way the internet is used has changed, and calculating search engine positioning has evolved with it.
The lack of accuracy that comes with search engine positioning is the largest criticism of this technique. It’s directional at best, and it doesn’t give an adequate estimate of traffic you can gain. Users are accessing information at any time, and this has changed the effectiveness of search engine positioning.
Search engine content should always be optimized—you need this in order to attract the right traffic, but now it’s time to take a different approach. Start working on creating simple, natural content that precisely answers the questions your users have. Google uses Direct Answers, which pulls results from sites with the best answers—regardless of how the site itself is ranked.
The algorithm for search engine positioning continues to evolve, which has changed how websites climb to the top. It’s no longer formulated using the traditional number-one result, especially when functions such as Featured Snippets and Direct Answers can skew that ranking.
It’s Not Personal
Your online presence today has a strong focus on getting to know customers and truly personalizing content toward them for effective outreach. Unlike former number-one rankings, Google delivers results that are personalized for its users via search history. Any rankings previously calculated are now thrown out the door.
Search engine positioning isn’t about what is objectively the best, it’s about what’s subjectively the best to the user. For example, if you visited Thug Kitchen’s website to look for their buffalo cauliflower recipe, and then you ask Google for the best buffalo cauliflower recipe, it’s likely to show you Thug Kitchen’s version first.
It’s now tailoring results to individual users: This is a whole different ranking in itself. If a friend of yours is looking for the same recipe, but hasn’t been to Thug Kitchen’s website, they’re likely to get a different result, and therefore a new number-one answer. The “best” has become more subjective as it becomes more individual.
Today’s users are naturally looking for a way to sort and access the vast number of answers they get online, which is where Featured Snippets and Direct Answers come in handy. They aren’t always the actual number-one ranking but what Google considers the most appropriate and relevant answer.
With this in mind, it’s important to remember that quality content captivates customers—and search engines. Focus on clearly answering your audience’s questions rather than getting to that number-one spot on Google.
It’s All About Location
In addition, a user’s location significantly impacts their search results. The answers that show up are now more focused on where the user is than what objectively is number one. It’s no longer about the best restaurant or store from all over the city.
Search engine positioning now looks to what’s closest to the user. This implicit factor plays a big role as it becomes increasingly specific in consumers’ search results.
Search engine positioning is no longer about being at the top because the way the top is calculated now depends on a string of variables. It’s time to change your SEO strategy.