“I’ll Google it!”

This might be the first phrase that comes to you when you’re asked a question you do not know the answer to. Google has become much more than a search engine. It has become a staple in our quest for answers. When there is a question, there always seems to be some sort of answer on Google. The ability to instantly find information at home or on the go has changed the way we travel, shop, eat, and even stay connected with family and friends.

As our uses for search engines have evolved, so have the search engines. In the past few months, Google has made a series of algorithm changes that have shifted search towards a more semantic query instead of one based upon keywords. The search engine is now searching for the exact answer to your question instead of a page that might cover the same topic. The answer has become the true end goal of a search engine.

This shift is something that businesses need take seriously. The days of ranking high on search engines by simply using keywords and backlinks are long gone. The focus has shifted to strong content that answers questions and has authority in the topic area. Google has introduced the notion of keyword groups that aid with the determination of authority in a topic area. The more pages of strong content on a website, the more likely the site has the answers to the questions being asked.

So what should your company be doing to optimize your website for these changes?

1. Focus on producing more strong content over topics in your field. This includes blogging, website updates (or overhauls), and creating sections such as FAQs.

2. Don’t focus on just one topic. Make sure your content covers numerous subjects in your area of expertise. Show that you know what you are talking about in your industry.

3. Turn your attention towards answers, not keywords. Remember that Google is looking to answer a question as quickly as possible. Put yourself into the shoes of a website visitor and ask, “Does this answer my question?”

4. Do not practice “black hat” SEO techniques (techniques that are used to trick search engines into ranking your site higher in the results). Another recent update to the Google algorithm now penalizes websites that use these practices.

5. Optimize your website for mobile devices. Searches have gone mobile and people want to see a site that is responsive to all of their devices.

If you just remember people are searching for answers when you write your content, you will be on the right path towards website optimization for today’s search engines.

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