Staying one step ahead: What's next for Google?

One of the most critical elements of the SEO game - and I say "game," because it really can be fun, in an SEO-dork kind of way - is staying on top of, if not ahead of, the latest changes in the Google algorithm. With so many variables at work, it's a massive challenge to assign blame or credit to specific tactics on a micro-level. But as SEO pro Mike Moran points out on his blog, attempts to decipher the past miss the point:

If you can identify an idea that might improve the searcher experience, you can bet that Google thought of it, too. Instead of waiting for them to implement it, perhaps you should be working to make things better for your customer and then waiting for Google to figure out the next turn of the algorithm crank.

That's a great insight, and a big reason why the process really can be fun. It's about predicting behavior. It's also at the heart of REQ's "Don't be black hat" philosophy. While there's obviously a lot of careful and clever machinations at work in any serious SEO shop, it's always important to come back to Mike's central question: is this good for the user? This is the case for two reasons, really. First off, the point of a well-rounded digital strategy should be to ensure a positive experience for the user. That goes without saying, and has clear merit in its own right.

But we shouldn't overlook the more Machiavellian payout for developing conventions that produce an end result that is good for Joe Public: you begin to think like one of the engineers in charge of improving Google's algorithm. And when you think like Google wants you to, you can get ahead of the game. Sure, not every new strategy you implement will become part of the secret sauce, but some inevitably will.

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