Making Sense of Search

I’m fairly new to SEO.I’m still finding my footing and catching up with the transformation of search engine algorithms over the years that I missed. I’m far from effortlessly including SEO jargon in my daily lingo. There are some things though that I’ve come to understand:

Humans, by their nature are curious. We search for new things that interest us and it is indeed our quest for constantly quenching this curiosity that is termed evolution by Darwinism aficionados. From discovering tools by sheer trial and error to using Google to find obscure pieces of information that were most likely forgotten, we’ve come a long way.

In fact, somewhere along the way we reached a point where it wasn’t enough that we had access to infinite knowledge.There was a case to be made for having specialists who assist this journey of information retrieval from the internet (not to be confused by Google’s servers). Search Engine Optimization is that assist. Search Engine Optimization has evolved faster than humans and even search engines themselves.

If you’re going to outsmart search engines for a living, then that’s how it needs to be too. If SEO only manages to keep pace with search engines, said search engines will dictate the terms. In order for a balance to be struck, SEO must be at all times a step ahead in this thrilling chess-like game of getting the best out of the internet that we built, every day.

Let’s take for instance the fact that Google’s algorithm will eventually be powerful enough to function as a conversational search engine (for a visual approximation, watch Her starring Joaquin Phoenix). The search engine serves to assist the user’s experience on the web. The pinnacle of this assistance will be accomplished when the user is able to talk to the search engine similar to having a conversation with a friend at a bar or a teacher in a classroom or a librarian to help find a rare book.

One of the golden rules of SEO that I’ve become familiar with is ‘don’t optimize for search engines, optimize for the user’. Just like search engines have to be ahead of the web, search engine optimization must in turn be ahead of search engines for Matt Cutts to realize his dream of building the conversational search engine.

So it’s pretty simple really – if the web was optimized for the user, search engines would return results accordingly, completing the circle each time search results for query are generated.

The internet is an overwhelming space. Like the universe, it is ever expanding and even though the total sum of all the content contained on the web is finite amount, it exists in multiple forms or duplication as SEO experts call it. Tackling this is tricky:it can either be done at source which is tedious as it involves identifying, comparing and selecting the original, then discarding the duplicates;or, a more refined approach that has a better chance of working in the grander scheme of things. Filtering through the mess of duplicate content and/or thin content is the hurdle we face. Whether the duplication is innocent or deliberate, it is diluting the internet and the user’s experience on it.

Creating content that adds value to the web is something everyone takes for granted and there’s not enough SEO that can change that. A dilute web means, search engines pull diluted results and the user feels cheated. But it is the user who diluted the web in the first place.

So SEO, after a while becomes creating meaningful content on the user’s behalf to keep this dilution in check. In other words, SEO ceases to be optimization and takes the form of content creation. Fresh, quality content being churned out and purveyed on a regular basis offsets the riff-raff of thin content currently out there.

When we reach a stage where more fresh content is being put out there than its thin, scrapped counterpart, search engines will adapt to the paradigm shift and you’ll be able to ask your search engine “Hey, which is that udipi restaurant where they serve slightly sweetish sambhar?”

And the search engine replies “In Mumbai there’s three places where the sambhar is known to be sweet: 2 of them are in Matunga, here are the directions to most popular one on zomato”

Or something similar.

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