Behavioral Ranking: Shocking Truth about the New Search Marketing Game!

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Before you begin reading this post I want to warn you this could possibly give you sleepless nights for long time to come. All your search optimization efforts are at now completely at the mercy of search engines. If you think you are smarter and can “bypass” the search engine guidelines then think again.

Ten years ago, achieving high ranking was as easy as eating a fresh hot New pizzaYork pizza. Few changes to your website title, meta and keyword tag made you the king of the world. Even my non geek art loving friend achieved top rankings for his ordinary skateboarding blog.

Things changed forever when big G (big G = Google) came and created the rules of search marketing. Unheard terms like search algorithm, page rank, Googlebot, rel=nofollow tags became the fundamental part of the SEO vocabulary. Eventually, search marketing players adapted to the new rules and we all lived happily ever after….Oh wait! If you think the story ends here then you will be surprised to know that it was just the beginning.

Search engine marketing is about to change again, and it’s none other than big G who is causing the change. The latest game changer is what I call “behavioral ranking logic”. Behavioral ranking is latest update in Google’s search algorithm, and it causes automatic change in rankings based on users search behavior. It is designed to provide extremely relevant search listings to the search user in the shortest possible time.

Relevancy has always been the key factor in ranking but adding search users’ behavior element takes it to the next level. Google is doing this for the benefit of its customers (search users). If a user is not satisfied with the search results then it’s pretty obvious he/she might never user the search again.

The behavioral ranking logic changes the search ranking of any website based on the keyword the search user typed prior to conducting a new keyword search. Let’s perform a real time experiment to test this. You can try this at home right now J

Clear your browser cookies and perform a search for the term “business web hosting”. On the SERP (search engine results page) keep an eye on the site at the natural rank #5. On my browser, the #5 ranking site is www.Rackspace.com. Rackspace is a top managed/dedicated hosting company, and they are the luxury hosting service providers (relatively high price and high quality).

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Next step is to clear your cookies again and search for the term “cheap web hosting”. Finally, perform a search for the term “business web hosting” again without clearing cookies. Notice that Rackspace.com is gone from the position #5 and from the entire first page. Scary!! Isn’t it?

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Any guesses on why Rackspace.com is not #5 anymore for the term “business web hosting”.

Come on… it’s not that hard.

The site Rackspace.com disappeared from the first SERP because the term searched before “business web hosting” i.e.” cheap web hosting” activated the behavioral logic. This logic identified the irrelevancy between the user’s request and Rackspace.com’s target customers (high end hosting customers) and resulted in a change in rankings.

The new update in search algorithm has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is instant delivery of highly relevant results for search users and more qualified visitors for business, in this case Rackspace. Disadvantage is the chance of losing visitors solely based on one criteria i.e. price. Rackspace offers a variety of low cost, scalable cloud hosting packages but is not targeting price related keywords. Another reason could be Rackspace.com is not highly optimized for the keyword “business web hosting” but I am sure this is not the case.

How would this update impact my business?

If you are doing all the right things in search optimization then it should not cost you much. The goal is to target the right keywords with the right message. If you land up in situation similar to this one then you should focus on optimizing more pages on your site with price point.

Please provide your comments, feedback, or tweets here.

Here is a list of other helpful blog posts –

Bounce rate – Does it Really Matters?

What is Web Analytics?

Web Analytics for My Small Business

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