Style is the New SEO

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There's been a fundamental shift in how Google determines content relevance.

By Jeff Korhan

On April 21, 2015, Google announced potentially sweeping changes that will affect your organization’s SEO. The most notable will be favorably ranking sites that are mobile-responsive.

It’s a fact that more than 50 percent of all web searches are performed with a mobile device. Google naturally sees little value in search results that cannot be consumed by that audience. Google’s mission is to deliver the most relevant information for search queries, as quickly as possible. That has always been true, and mobile-responsiveness is just one aspect of it. More surprising is another fundamental shift in what determines relevance.

Relevant is What Gets Talked About

Let’s assume your association blog provides practical, high-quality solutions for a particular audience. You may be surprised to learn that quality is no longer enough to earn Google’s attention because it is just one of many relevance factors. For lack of a better word, the true differentiator now seems to be style.

SEO used to be optimizing content so that Google could help you reach an audience. SEO nowadays is first building an audience to then earn a shot at getting noticed further. It’s a difference that relates to how things work in the real world.

Consider who gets the most publicity in the country music industry; it’s not necessarily those that are technically better, but rather, it’s the fan favorites, the ones with a unique style or "it” factor that already have an audience talking about them (think Taylor Swift). Like Google, major media outlets want to tell their story because that is a surefire way for attracting a larger (and more profitable) audience for everyone concerned. This is why sites like Amazon always rank highly. Google knows their solutions are consistently in demand. They’ve proved they have an audience, and now every other organization is going to have to do the same. The new SEO says that to get talked about you have to get talked about.

This means going beyond quality. You have to develop a relevance factor that resonates with a particular audience. That may be a unique customer experience, or just about anything that is memorable, and can be amplified with online content. Uniquely memorable gets talked about. That’s the new reality that should have all of us rethinking our value so that people get it — and want more of it.

Jeff Korhan, MBA, author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business, helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world.

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