Earlier this year, Google began rolling out a new artificial intelligence algorithm built on top of an earlier Google search algorithm. The new algorithm, known as MUM, is short for Multitask Unified Model, and Google claims it is 1,000 times more powerful than the previous algorithm.
As these new features slowly surface, Google search will gain a better understanding of words, concepts, images, and videos and how all of these content items intersect. It will go well beyond the exact words used in a search to comprehend the meaning and intent of search phrases, along with uncovering related concepts.
Despite these exciting advancements, there is still a misconception among small businesses that search engine optimization (SEO) is some kind of backend voodoo that can only be performed by a website developer or SEO specialist. In reality, SEO is largely a public relations and marketing process focused on systematically growing digital relevance.
Here’s Why Cheap SEO Tricks No Longer Work
As a small business, do not trust anyone who tells you they can outsmart Google. Sure, at the beginning of the millennium you could trick Google into ranking your site through keyword black hat SEO schemes. But Google’s ranking process is far more sophisticated today.
Long before the recent MUM rollout, Google has been able to detect and penalize bad actors who try to game the system. Google publicly lists common schemes its algorithm is able to detect and in some cases penalize, which includes: automatically generated content, sneaky redirects, link schemes, thin content, paid links, cloaking, hidden text and links, scraped content, irrelevant keywords, malicious behavior, automated queries and user-generated spam.
It’s not just intentional schemes being penalized. Google search algorithms look at the quality of pages and the overall user experience when ranking, penalizing or deindexing pages and domains. That means you cannot simply write content for the algorithm; pages appealing to the humans on the other side of the screen are better positioned to perform.
Here’s What Does Work
Understand that Google is in the business of relevance. When a user enters a search query, they want the most relevant results to appear on the first page. That’s what Google’s algorithm is designed to do, and with each update the algorithm becomes more efficient and sophisticated in achieving this.
So, if you want your business site to rank, forget trying to trick Google into thinking your business is relevant. You need to actually be relevant, and that takes a relentless digital public relations and content strategy along with a complete and active Google My Business profile.
In 2019, a Wall Street Journal investigation found that Google engineers “emphasize factors on a page that are proxies for ‘authoritativeness,’ effectively pushing down pages that don’t display those attributes.” It is well established that backlinks from prominent websites, such as mainstream news websites, weigh heavily in increasing a domain and individual webpage’s authority.
With that said, a public relations and content strategist can do what most SEO specialists cannot: secure earned media placements with trusted news outlets that link back to your website. By regularly securing press and backlinks, small businesses can out-muscle local and national competitors for top rankings through domain authority.
It’s also essential for you to claim, verify and fully complete your Google My Business profile, which weighs heavily on your local search rankings. Implement a strategy to generate positive reviews, too, by following Google’s best practices to further improve your local search competitiveness.
To generate traffic, leads and sales online, Google search should be near the top of your priority list. By intensifying your digital relevance through public relations and content, you will have a major advantage over competitors still clinging to the tired SEO tricks of the past.