"Google is always changing the rules. It isn't fair. They dislike SEOs. SEO is dying."
This type of sentiment has populated the SEO industry for over a dozen years. At Red Door Interactive, we have digital strategists who have been doing SEO that long - and in some cases longer. It's nothing new to us.
And every time we hear it, we disagree.
The people who say that type of thing are people who lack understanding the most important things about SEO overall: constant evolution and adaptability.
Google is constantly examining how Internet users are searching for things on the web, what they are engaging with, and what they are not engaging with anymore. This means they are constantly tinkering with how information is collected and presented to them.
In the past year alone, we have seen the following changes in the way the search results page looks and is engaged with:
- An end to of Google Authorship (August 2014)
- Mobile-Friendly Ranking Factors (April 2015)
- Rich answers appearing in 20% of the search results pages (February 2015)
- "People also ask" appearing in the search results pages (July 2015)
This doesn’t account for any of the algorithm changes that have happened, which evolve the sites that are listed themselves. These only account for what users see when they type in a query. And this week it was announced that a change was coming that would impact an influential way of how users search, as well as significantly impact SEO professionals.
It was announced that Google would be sun-setting the Autocomplete API on August 10th.
And seconds after it was announced and shared with SEO industry people, the "Google hates SEO" comments started flooding the message boards and forums.
WHY IT MATTERS
For a number of years, many SEOs have been leveraging the Autocomplete API to inform them of new keywords to begin targeting for organic search optimization. Google collected this data and showed it as a user was typing in a query.
Tools were built to leverage this feature, which made updating keyword list targets easier. Some of them were tools you even had to subscribe to. And as of mid-August, they could be rendered useless in some parts.
As to why Google has decided to stop investing resources into this feature, it’s unclear. Perhaps we’ll know with time. Perhaps not.
LEGITIMATE SEO PROFESSIONALS AREN'T SKIPPING A BEAT
Again, those of us who have been in this industry and doing keyword research for a very long time have seen the ebb and flow of the keyword research process. This development does not phase us. And in fact, many of us used a variety of technologies and strategies to determine the best way to evolve a client’s keyword list target and intent optimization. There are a number of ways and technologies to use as alternatives.
ADAPTING YOUR SEO KEYWORD STRATEGY PROCESS
Here are some of the technologies we use at RDI in updating a client’s approach to keyword strategy.
AdWords Keyword Planner: A staple for nearly a decade at this point. The tool is leveraged by a few other tools when pulling keyword opportunities and exploring their popularity with users.
BrightEdge Data Cube: The line between SEO and Content has always been blurred. A solid SEO Strategist will understand the technical elements of making a site indexable in the search engines. But in order to be considered, it’s always come down to content. And BrightEdge (a top SEO tool used on all RDI SEO clients) knew this when they announced their Data Cube product in Q1 of 2014. The tool uncovers gaps and opportunities for content on key terms relevant to a brand.
Social Listening Tools: One of the most under-used tools by SEOs. Typically used by social media teams, social listening tools (good ones) can provide tremendous insight into how users feel about one theme, as well as what other themes they are talking about/sharing that are related. The SEO process at RDI includes deliverables and use of a social listening tool for keyword research as well as for analyzing content marketing opportunities that would be worth investing in for a brand.
These are just a few examples. The SEO community is active in exploring and sharing how this process evolves. And RDI is at the head of this exploration.