Ross Farmer
Ross Farmer

Blog: What Google Wants

Category: Blogging, Content

Monday March 21st, 2016

Personal story: I used to mock people – relatives and friends, to be fair, not random strangers – for typing questions into Google. Keywords, I would lecture, are the only important bit. If they wanted to know how to change a lightswitch, they would Google the phrase “how do I change a lightswitch?” and I would insist they contract it to “change lightswitch,” focusing on the keywords.

Well, time moves on and things change, and these days if I wanted the Googleinternet to give me low-level electrical advice, I’d probably type in that first phrase, question mark and all. The question is: why has it changed?

The reason is simple, and it’s something we can all get behind. In the old days, the internet was about the internet. It had its own rules and formulas and way things had to be done. Search engines had their systems and humans making websites had their techniques for effectively duping these systems, stuffing in keywords or making hundreds of nonsense pages to drive traffic for traffic’s sake.

These days, happily, the internet is about people. It’s the most incredible means of mass communication the world has ever known, and search engines – especially Google – understand this. The fact is that Google is learning how people really speak, how they write, and how they search. It values topics and trends as well as keywords, and it values humanistic sentence composition rather than robotic lists of information.

In this way, Google now rewards websites with higher search rankings if they reflect the way people search in the real world, and if they’re full of original, genuine, useful information. So in theory copywriters no longer need to keep one eye on the SEO score and one eye on the eventual reader – it can be all about the user experience. Which is just how it really should be.