Content will continue to be a strategic SEO asset

Looking back at the game-changing Google Farmer, Panda and Freshness updates from 2011

Looking back at the game-changing Google Farmer, Panda and Freshness updates from 2011, Searchmetrics notes that it expects Google will continue its focus on ensuring only the newest, most relevant content makes it up its search rankings. We expect that Google will continue to refine its algorithms to drive out poor quality, mass- produced content from its search results and, therefore, organisations will need to pay close attention to how Panda continues to evolve if they want their sites to maintain high search rankings.

Without doubt, if you haven’t already embraced Schema, now is the time to do so as the semantic web is more and more the future of SEO. Many affiliates will already be benefitting from using structured mark-up on their pages; since Google relaxed the approval process in November 2011, now all pages correctly marked-up using Schema present rich snippets in the SERPs (providing they rank, of course).

“The real question is: in the future, will Facebook or Twitter be worth more than Google?”

Our own research on dick-through-rate for ecommerce clients that have implemented Schema for product reviews show increases of up to 200 percent (on CTR) with no change to position in rank and, of course, significantly higher percentages where rank increased at the same time.

Increased click-through-rate isn’t the only reason to implement Schema; logically, the more that search engines can ‘understand’ your content, the better the scope for interpretation of content and reduction in the contribution of link signals which often comes down to who has the biggest budget. All the signs are there that Google is getting much better, and more aggressive, at detecting and de-valuing clumsy link building practices; therefore, having great content and your mark-up locked down is essential in today’s climate. Structured mark-up like Schema really comes into its own with search on mobile devices, as often it’s the qualifying data marked up with Schema and displayed in snippets (location, number of stars, event times, price, cost per head) that helps sway a decision due to the more intentional nature of mobile search.

You can find out more about Schema protocol at

I guess the future of search is what we make it. Naturally, we will have to adapt to battlefield conditions. The way we organise ourselves as an industry will be interesting. We’re seeing massive agency structures fragmenting, which is always good for innovation and competition.

I would expect search to continue to be a battle won by the agile rather than whoever has the deepest pockets. But I also see search having reached the end of its era. Social discovery will render fundamental search behaviour defunct and will, literally without the requirement for question, provide the solution before the query has been thought (let alone submitted). I would guess we’re as close as 15 to 18 months from this becoming a reality, based on Kurzweil’s Accelerating Change. As ever, the future is just a natural evolution of the present.
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