Basic SEO factors are still in play. Links are still important. Keywords still play a role. Content still needs to be created. But as more and more variables are added to the picture, the value ascribed to each one decreases. This makes it difficult to pick specific aspects of search engine optimization, focus on them to the exclusion of everything else and expect it to be enough.
This is an important change. In the past you could get away with thin content, for instance, if you had a large number of links coming in that would boost it in search. You could get away with poor quality design if you had sufficient keywords to draw in the ‘crowds’ to your page through search. You could get away with links in some suspect neighborhoods if you had a sufficiently large number of links for the percentage of bad links to be small enough to be overlooked.
You could, in short, take some shortcuts that might have been ‘bad’ when you planned to be ‘good’ once you got where you needed to in terms of search ranking. There was an expectation that the end result justified the risks and that things would balance out in your favor, eventually.
This is no longer the case anymore. Because Google now needs to deliver high quality, high-confidence results in search it has to have confidence in the content presented. The veracity factor becomes critical. This makes every activity intended to optimize a website, crucial. Design, content, website structure, keywords, traffic, traffic behavior, social network footprint, links, comments and citations. The list is far from exhaustive and, everything in fact that helps build a data-driven impression of what a website is all about and the quality of its content, now becomes an element or activity you need to consider.
The reason this has happened has to do with two things that are synonymous with semantic search: Entities and structured data.
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