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A closer look at today’s Pokemon Sword and Shield Direct

Earlier today, Game Freak debuted a new Nintendo Direct centered around Pokemon Sword and Shield. Though the Direct only lasted around 15 minutes, there was a surprising amount of information packed into the presentation. Some of generation 8’s new Pokemon were revealed, and we received some new details about the Galar region that players will be exploring as they make their way through the game.

Chief among the new details, though, was information about the new Dynamax mechanic. Once you find the Dynamax Band in Sword and Shield (something that’s bound to happen early on), you’ll be able to transform one of your Pokemon into a towering monster, Rita Repulsa style, in each battle. Dynamax is described as something that’s integral to Pokemon battles in the Galar region, so expect to encounter it a lot as you play.

There’s no word on if things like Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves – the two other once-a-battle twists that Game Freak added in previous generations – will be returning for Sword and Shield, but it stands to reason that they’ll appear in some form. Dynamax Pokemon will appear outside of regular trainer battles, as they also feature in Max Raid Battles. In Max Raid Battles, you’ll partner up with other players to take down (and potentially catch) powerful Pokemon that are in Dynamax form throughout the entire encounter.

There are some interesting caveats to Max Raid Battles. Even though four players participate in each one (either via local wireless or Nintendo Switch Online), only one player can use Dynamax abilities for their own Pokemon, so you’ll need to plan ahead and strategize to determine who that will be. Game Freak notes that some Pokemon can only be caught in Max Raid Battles, so if you want to fill up the Pokedex, participating in them will be a necessity.

The we come to the Wild Area, which is described as a “vast expanse of land” that connects several cities in the Galar region. When exploring the Wild Area, the Pokemon you encounter depends on a number of variables, including terrain, your location within the Wild Area, and the weather, so exploring the whole thing and revisiting every time the weather changes might reveal some rare Pokemon.

In the Direct, it initially seems that Pokemon appear on the overworld map only within the Wild Area, but according to a press release from The Pokemon Company, we’ll see wild Pokemon wandering around the entire region. Some will still be hiding in tall grass, though, and can be flushed out of hiding when an exclamation point appears above the player’s head. Some Pokemon, on the other hand, will pursue you, so make sure that you’re ready to fight before you approach wild Pokemon you see in the overworld.

We’re expecting somewhere around one hundred new Pokemon to make their debuts in generation 8, and today, Game Freak revealed a handful of them. The new Pokemon include the flowering Pokemon Gossifleur, which evolves into Eldegoss; Wooloo the sheep Pokemon; Corviknight, which resembles a raven and is used to taxi people from town to town within the Galar region; and finally, Drednaw, a massive Pokemon with a hard shell and strong bite.

We were also introduced to the two version legendaries for Sword and Shield: Zacian and Zamazenta. There isn’t much that’s known about these two Pokemon yet, but there’s probably a good reason for that as version legendaries often play a major role in the narrative of Pokemon games. Their respective roles probably won’t be clear until the games are out, but we’re looking forward to learning more about them nonetheless.

Finally, Game Freak and The Pokemon Company shared a ton of new screenshots for Pokemon Sword and Shield, which you can see in the galleries dotted throughout this article. Pokemon Sword and Shield are out on November 15, 2023, and we’re hoping that Nintendo will have more information for us at E3 2023 next week.

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Google Mayday Update – A Closer Look At Impact

By now, most of us know about the big change Google performed this past month to the algorithm known as the “Mayday” update.  We know also that it directly affected deeper page content and long tail SEO.  Several people, including Brett Snyder over at SEER Interactive have come out with opinions on its impact on their sites, with mixed messages coming from across the industry as to whether there was a positive impact or a negative impact.  I took it even further though, and have studied the impact by comparing multiple months and year over year across four client sites involving over 24,000 pages of content, and 248,000 site visits that came to those sites via more than 69,000 keywoord phrases.

Don’t Be Fooled

Now before I go any further, I need to say that you may not know that I was a crime statistician a couple decades ago, who learned that you can make statistics prove anything you are seeking to prove.  There are several ways you can go about this including:

Manipulate the Numbers

Leave Out Critical Portions of Data

Include Otherwise Irrelevant Data

Use Marketing Spin

Baffle Your Audience With Bull$@*#

Other Factors to Consider

In addition to the intentional manipulation of statistical data, there’s the issue of other factors that must be considered when drawing conclusions about this, or any update we learn of.

What if Google made sixteen other changes around the same time frame, and DIDN’T tell us about those?  Given that they make hundreds of changes every year, that’s quite possible.

What if the change in visitor activity was even partially as a result of work that person performed the previous month and that work was just now bearing fruit?

What if any of these increases or decreases was as a result, at least partially, of someone’s competitors and the SEO (or lack thereof) on those competitor sites?

What if some of those changes was due to seasonal factors that nobody seems to be mentioning?

So as you read this article, and look at my statistics, just remember all of this.  Because at the end of the article I will offer some conclusions which speak to what we all need to focus on as a result of the Mayday change. …

One Additional note

Client #1

Client 1 is a retail client, with 100% of their sales coming through their online presence.  They’ve got roughly 3000 pages indexed at Google at any given time.

From April to May of this year, overall Google organic visits jumped at a higher rate than they did from April to May of last year while at the same time, the total number of keyword phrases used to find Client 1’s site rose as well, but at a much lower rate as compared to last year’s month over month change.

Sure, you might say that this means the MayDay update caused a drop in the growth of keyword phrases.  If you want to say that.  Yet the truth is that we work on this client’s site continually, month in and month out.  And it’s impossible to say that any of this growth or lack of comparative growth, was as a result of our work, the Google Mayday changes, or some other factor.  But at least we got that higher visitor count.  🙂

Client #2

Client 2 is a very popular eatery and entertainment night spot, with over 1000 pages indexed.

Client 3

Client 3 is an online retailer with a whole lot of products – over 4600 pages total.

Client 3 saw a drop in Google organic visits while seeing more phrases searched in this year’s April to May comparison.  Isn’t THAT interesting?

Client 4

Client 4 is also a retailer – with the most pages of any site reviewed for this study.  Over 16,000 pages indexed at Google, as a matter of fact.

Sadly, as you can see by these statistics, even though Client 4 has infinitely more pages than any of the other sites in this study, they sure don’t act like it.  I mean – look at that Google organic search volume and compare the total number of pages on the site to total Google organic visits, and then go back and look at the 3 other clients in this article.  Just goes to show you – just because you have the most pages on your block, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get the most visits, let alone sales!

In any case, year over year changes were about the same for both visits and phrases used.  Except that last year from April to May there was a big DROP in visits and this year, from April to May there was a 7% increase.

Conclusions

I think it’s obvious from these numbers, that the Google Mayday update helped all four of these clients.  Just by looking at the year over year and month over month statistics proves that out.

Okay, no it doesn’t.  That claim is actually the lamest joke I think I have told all week.  Because like I said at the beginning of this article, there’s honestly no way to know.

And thus, I conclude that anyone who tells you they have anything resembling an “informed” opinion as to whether the Mayday update was good, or bad, is just puffing themselves up and pulling your chain.

Actions To Take Because of the Mayday Update

Here’s where I think we need to be – more unique content needs to be added to 2nd, 3rd and 4th tier pages.  Better linking needs to take place within the site itself that improves the importance of those pages from Google’s perspective.  Those pages need more inbound links going directly to them.  And more needs to be done through social media and other online authority building and brand identity confirmation perspectives.

So get to work, people!  And have a nice day.

A Look At Kde Desktop Effects

Since KDE 3, with each update, the number of desktop effects multiplied. Let’s take a trip into the land of KDE’s desktop effects and look at how you can use them to improve both your desktop’s aesthetics and usability.

Hardware Requirements

KDE had the reputation of being the most demanding desktop environment. Its effects used to put an extra toll on resources and induce significant lag, but not anymore – at least, not if you bought your PC within the decade. Check out our KDE review for that.

If your PC isn’t a two-decade-old relic, KDE will automatically recognize its GPU and enable its compositor. Under normal circumstances, you don’t have to do anything to enable its support for effects.

On older hardware, you can change the scale method to “Crisp” or “Smooth,” tearing prevention (“vsync”) to “Only when cheap” or “Never,” and disable “Keep window thumbnails.”

We should note, though, that due to their nature, extra effects still induce some lag, no matter your compositor or desktop environment. If you enable a lot of effects, you may feel your mouse cursor trying to keep up with you. In such a case, the only solution is to go back and disable some effects.

Enable Desktop Effects

KDE comes with an assortment of effects that can improve your desktop’s aesthetics, accessibility and even help you focus.

Accessibility

The Accessibility section offers a collection of visual enhancements and functions that can ease your computer’s use.

Appearance

Under Appearance, you’ll find effects that tweak how your desktop looks. Some of them are listed below.

Blur is useful only when used in conjunction with semi-transparent windows since it blurs the background behind them to improve the foreground’s readability.

Desaturate Unresponsive Applications can “drain the color” from a frozen application’s windows.

Mouse Mark can be ultra-useful in streaming, video conferences, and vidcasts since it allows you to draw lines on your desktop directly.

Candy

Candy is one thing you can do without them, but it doesn’t hurt trying them on to see if you like them.

Here you’ll find effects like “Fall Apart,” which when closing a window makes it fall into pieces, and “Wobbly Windows,” which when you move a window around, it deforms it as if made of jello.

Focus

The Focus group of effects visually prioritizes the points of interest on the desktop through different approaches. Among them, you’ll find:

Dialog Parent, which darkens a parent window when it presents a dialog.

Dim Inactive, that keeps the window you’re working on normal brightness but dims the other windows the longer you don’t turn your attention to them.

Dim Screen for Administrator Mode does precisely that, turning everything darker when you have to enter your root password.

Show Desktop Animation

A mix of usability and eye candy, the effects here aren’t essential either, but you should give them a try to check if you like them.

For example, “Window Aperture” moves a window into the corners when showing the desktop.

Tools

Do you want to know if your desktop updates as quick as your screen? Enable “Show FPS.” Would you like to know which areas of the desktop were recently updated? Put a tick in “Show Paint”

Virtual Desktop Switching Animation

A cube is one of the alternative animations for switching between virtual desktops. The other’s an even simpler fade effect, perfect for those who want their desktop to present smoother transitions but don’t like bling.

Window Management

KDE comes with some alternative ways to present windows on the desktop. Some of them are:

Present Windows, which zooms out to show all opened windows side by side.

Window Open/Close Animation

If you don’t like how the windows you open and close appear like they fade in/fade out, you can make them “Glide” instead. Alternatively, you can have them “Scale” in and out.

Get More Desktop Effects

Are you using KDE desktop effects on your computer? If you prefer something that is more lightweight, try Compton. If you are experiencing a screen tearing issue, here is how to fix it.

Odysseas Kourafalos

OK’s real life started at around 10, when he got his first computer – a Commodore 128. Since then, he’s been melting keycaps by typing 24/7, trying to spread The Word Of Tech to anyone interested enough to listen. Or, rather, read.

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A Look Back At Rosetta’s Best Moments

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft has had an eventful 12 years. A decade after launching in 2004, Rosetta made history as the first spacecraft to land a probe on a comet (although not without mishaps), and orbit it as it traveled around the Sun.

But Rosetta is finally powering down. On Friday, shortly before 7:00 A.M. ET, Rosetta will plummet to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, landing on the smaller “head” of the rubber duck-shaped heap of ice and dust and severing communications with Earth forever. Rosetta will aim for the comet’s active Ma’at region, collecting a final trove of data before the collision.

You can stream the “glorious crash-landing” here.

Rosetta has spent 785 days orbiting the comet since its arrival in August 2014, helping scientists understand where comets come from and the history of our solar system.

“We have gone from considering these comets [as] dusty snowballs to a complex dynamic ‘world’ with a variety of physics to understand,” Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta Project Scientist, said in an email to Popular Science. “This week, we will end the mission operations, but the data will supply decades of work for science, in particular the next generation of scientists.”

Here are some of the most exciting highlights from the two-year mission.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, snapshotted by Rosetta on March 14, 2024. ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Comet 67P is shaped like a duck

As Rosetta approached Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, ESA scientists were surprised to discover that it was not the football-shaped rock they were expecting. Instead, Comet 67P had two distinct lobes.

“The images faintly remind me of a rubber ducky with a body and a head,” Carsten Güttler, who manages Rosetta’s OSIRIS cameras, said in a press release at the time.

Scientists later determined that Comet 67P’s odd shape is the result of two smaller comets crashing into each other at low speed.

Getting right up in Comet 67P’s business has led researchers to conclude that its two lobes were likely built up slowly, in very cold conditions. In other words, comets are “ancient leftovers” from the solar system’s formation, rather than younger fragments chipped off of larger bodies as they smashed into each other.

Rosetta spied its long-lost Philae lander on September 2, 2024. ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA; context: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam

Philae’s troubled journey

Rosetta’s 200-pound Philae lander was supposed to gently touch down on the comet in November 2014. But the probe had a bumpy landing after failing to anchor to the comet’s surface and bouncing away, finally coming to rest in a shaded area where it couldn’t charge its solar panels.

Philae went dark shortly afterwards, hibernating until it briefly awakened in 2024, then went silent again. ESA eventually gave up on hearing from Philae again. Earlier this month, however, Rosetta managed to spy where the probe wound up. This is allowing scientists to better understand the transmissions they did receive from Philae.

A map of Comet 67P showing its different regions; the duck’s “body” looms in the foreground, the head in the background. ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Comet 67P, up close and personal

Rosetta and Philae have investigated Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko inside and out. Scientists used images of the comet captured by Rosetta’s OSIRIS cameras to map out its varied terrain, which includes cliffs, craters, and grooves.

Before going dark, Philae managed to sniff out organic molecules, carbon-rich compounds that include the building blocks of life on Earth. These kinds of molecules have been detected on Mars and other comets, but Philae allowed scientists to sample them from the surface of a comet for the first time.

Later, scientists found evidence of 16 different organic compounds, four of which had never before been found on a comet. They also learned that parts of the comet’s surface are soft and dusty, others rock-hard. And by sending radio waves through the comet, Philae discovered that its interior is fluffy—that is, loosely packed and full of holes, making for a sponge-like comet that is 85 percent empty space.

Illustration of Rosetta approaching Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (spacecraft and comet not to scale). Spacecraft: ESA/ATG medialab; Comet image: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Water, but not like ours

It’s likely that water was carried to Earth on asteroids rather than comets, scientists believe after studying Comet 67P. Much of the water on Rosetta’s comet has a different composition than Earth water. It contains deuterium (hydrogen carrying an extra neutron, making it “heavier”), which is rarely found on Earth.

This year, we also learned that the ice on Comet 67P has a crystalline structure, revealing that it is extremely old. It seems to have formed at about the same time as the solar system, 4.6 billion years ago.

An image of the Imhotep region of Comet 67P’s surface, taken on March 28, 2024. ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Trapped oxygen

There’s plenty of oxygen on the duck-shaped comet. “That was a big surprise,” Taylor told Popular Science. “Oxygen is a friendly molecule and likes to join with other molecules, so having it by itself implies it was trapped very early on in the solar system. This constrains how and where the comet was formed.”

The O2, which Rosetta detected on a comet for the first time, may have become caught in grains of ice and rock trapped as the comet formed billions of years ago.

Comet 67P let rip a “dramatic outburst” (aka comet fart) powerful enough to push away the surrounding solar wind on July 29, 2024. ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Voyage towards the sun

Rosetta followed Comet 67P as it approached the sun, which it orbits once every 6.6 years. As the duck-shaped comet heats up, it burns off dust, ice and gases that Rosetta can “taste,” adding to its cloudy halo.

Scientists observed as the restive comet spouted jets and farted an outburst of hydrogen sulfide and methane. Spurts of evaporating ice seem to leave a pockmarked landscape in their wake.

Taking A Second Look At Apple Xserve

With the success of iTunes and iPods, not to mention MacBook, you’d think Apple wouldn’t be that interested in the Xserve — an item that contributes a relatively minuscule amount to the company coffers. In fact, it hasn’t been covered in a Snapshot for a couple of years.

Yet Apple has been working hard on its server platform. In the past year or so, it updated its server OS and has added Intel Nehalem processors to Xserve. In addition, it has made its Mac Pro desktop hardware available as a tower server. Finally, the company has continued to invest in improved storage systems for its user base.

At the end of 2006, Apple introduced the first Intel Xeon processor-based Xserve model. Since that time, it has continued to add the latest and greatest from Intel. The newest Xserve, for example, comes with Xeon 5500 series processors.

“Our most recent release has a lot of new technology which provides a big boost in performance and more memory bandwidth,” said Doug Brooks, the Xserve product manager at Apple. “Customers include education, science, research, federal government and creative customers in printing, graphics, media, video and post production.”

Apple positions this 1U machine as a complete package — everything you need in one box. The company web site pushes two basic versions:

A server with one 2.26 GHz quad-core Nehalem processor with 3 GB of memory, one 160 GB 7200 rpm SATA drive, Mac OS X server software and unlimited client licenses for $2,999; or one with the same basic specs except for two 2.26 GHz Nehalems for a price of $3,599.

The current operating system in the Xserve is known as Leopard, version 10.5 of the Apple server software. It took over from the Tiger OS (10.4). Compared to its predecessor, Leopard provides a streamlined interface that makes it easier for those who lack server administration experience to set up the server. Further, it comes with lots of collaboration software (such as a Wiki server), and a media processing engine to automate the capture of content and its publication.

Apple has also been working hard on storage support. On the Xserve side, the company released a 128 GB solid state drive (SSD) option. As it comes on an internal RAID card, it doesn’t take up a hard drive bay. This SSD, though, isn’t intended for primary storage. Rather, it operates as a fast, low-power boot drive with the OS loaded onto it. It costs $500.

“The SSD gives 100 MB a second-read performance, and random access performance is up to 20 times faster than a SAS drive,” said Brooks.

Additionally, the company has updated its SAN file system with the release of Xsan 2. This is clustered file system software that helps to create shared storage environments used in IT and video editing. XSan 2 requires a Fibre Channel (FC) SAN network and a metadata controller that typically runs on Xserve.

As well as the Xserve, Apple has one other server hardware offering. It’s Mac Pro desktop is now being offered as a server (i.e. it comes loaded with the Mac OS X Server software). According to Brooks, this has been available for some time but the company is now putting more of a spotlight on it. Mac Pro pricing starts at $2,499.

“Xserve is a rack-mounted product, and some SMBs prefer a tower model,” said Brooks. “We support our server software on the Mac Pro and the Mac Mini. The Mac Pro has all of the horsepower of the Xserve and most of its features except a redundant power supply and lights out management.”

Product Name Base Configuration Base Pricing

Xserve Choice of Quad-Core (2.26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem” Processor) with 3GB RAM or 8-Core (Two 2.26GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem” processors) with 3GB RAM, 160GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA drive module and Mac OS X Server v10.5 Unlimited-Client Edition Starting at $2,999

Mac Pro Choice of Quad-Core (One 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem” processor) with 3GB RAM or 8-Core (Two 2.26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem” processors) with 6GB RAM, 640GB HD, 18x double-layer SuperDrive and NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB video card Starting at $2,499

Article courtesy of Server Watch.

Is Seo Dead? A Fresh Look At The Age

The march of time is inevitable. And every year, some new technology pounds the nail into the coffin on something older.

Whether the horse and buggy are replaced by the automobile or the slide rule is replaced by the calculator, everything eventually becomes obsolete.

And if you listen to the rumors, this time around, it’s search engine optimization. Rest in peace, SEO: 1997-2024.

There’s just one tiny little problem.

SEO is still alive and kicking. It’s just as relevant today as it has ever been. If anything, it may even be more important.

Today, 53% of all website traffic comes from organic search.

And what’s helping Google determine which results belong at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs)? SEO, of course.

Need more proof? We have more statistics to back it up.

Thanks to consistent updates to the Google search algorithm, the entire SEO field is undergoing rapid evolution.

Completely ignoring the many small changes the search engine’s algorithm has undergone, we’ve seen several major updates in the last decade. Some of the more important ones are:

Panda – First put into place in February 2011, Panda was focused on quality and user experience. It was designed to eliminate black hat SEO tactics and web spam.

Hummingbird – Unveiled in August 2013, Hummingbird made the search engine’s core algorithm faster and more precise in anticipation of the growth of mobile search.

RankBrain – Rolled out in spring 2024, this update was announced in October of that year. Integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into all queries, RankBrain uses machine learning to provide better answers to ambiguous queries.

BERT – Initially released in November 2023 and updated in December 2023, this update helps Google understand natural language better.

Vicinity – Put into place in December 2023, Vicinity was Google’s biggest local search update in five years. Using proximity targeting as a ranking factor, local businesses are weighted more heavily in query results.

Each of these updates changed the way Google works, so each required SEO professionals to rethink their approach and tweak their strategy to ensure they get the results needed. But the need for their services remained.

Now that it’s been established that SEO is not dead, it raises the question: Where did all this death talk come from in the first place?

Most of it is based on unfounded conjecture and wild speculation. The truth is that SEO is in a state of transition, which can be scary.

And that transition is driven by three things:

Artificial intelligence and machine learning, particularly Google RankBrain.

Shrinking organic space on SERPs.

Digital personal assistants and voice search.

The Rise Of Machine Learning

You’ve probably already recognized the impact AI has had on the world.

This exciting new technology has started to appear everywhere, from voice assistants to predictive healthcare to self-driving automobiles.

And it has been a trending topic in SEO for quite a while.

Unfortunately, most of what’s out there is incomplete information gathered from reading patents, analyzing search engine behavior, and flat-out guessing.

And part of the reason it’s so difficult to get a handle on what’s happening in AI concerning search engines is its constant evolution.

However, we will examine two identifiable trends: machine learning and natural language.

Machine learning is just what it sounds like: machines that are learning.

For a more sophisticated definition, it can be described as “a method of data analysis that automates analytical model building… a branch of artificial intelligence based on the idea that systems can learn from data, identify patterns and make decisions with minimal human intervention.”

For SEO purposes, this means gathering and analyzing information on content, user behaviors, citations, and patterns, and then using that information to create new rankings factors that are more likely to answer user queries accurately.

You will want to read this article for a more in-depth explanation of how that will work.

One of the most important factors machine learning uses when determining how to rank websites is our other trend – natural language.

From their earliest days, computers have used unique languages. And because it was very unlike the language humans don’t use, there was always a disconnect between user intent and what search engines delivered.

The most important one for SEO professionals is RankBrain, Google’s machine learning system built upon the rewrite of Google’s core algorithm that we mentioned earlier, Hummingbird.

Nearly a decade ago, Google had the foresight to recognize that mobile devices were the future wave. Anticipating what this would mean for search, Hummingbird focused on understanding conversational speech.

RankBrain builds upon this, moving Google away from a search engine that follows the links between concepts to seeing the concepts they represent.

It moved the search engine away from matching keywords in a query to more precisely identifying user intent and delivering results that more accurately matched the search.

This meant identifying which words were important to the search and disregarding those that were not.

It also developed an understanding of synonyms, so if a webpage matches a query, it may appear in the results, even if it doesn’t include the searched-for keyword.

The biggest impact of RankBrain and machine learning has been on long-tail keywords.

In the past, websites would often jam in specific but rarely search-for keywords into their content. This allowed them to show up in queries for those topics.

RankBrain changed how Google handled these, which meant primarily focusing on long-tail keywords was no longer a good strategy. It also helped eliminate content from spammers who sought rankings for these terms.

Honey, I Shrunk The Organic Search Space

Search engines are big business, no one can deny that.

As a result, organic results were pushed further down the page, or “below the fold,” to borrow an anachronistic idiom.

From Google’s business perspective, this makes sense. The internet has become a huge part of the global economy, which means an ever-increasing number of companies are willing to pay for ad placement.

Changes to local search have also affected SERPs. In its never-ending quest to provide more relevant results to users, Google added a local pack to search results. This group of three nearby businesses appears to satisfy the query. They are listed at the top of the first page of results, along with a map showing their location.

This was good news for local businesses who compete with national brands. For SEO professionals, however, it threw a new wrinkle into their work.

And these are not the only things pushing organic results down the page. Depending on the search, your link may also have to compete with:

Automated extensions.

Featured snippets.

Video or image carousels.

News stories.

With this in mind, and as organic results sink lower and lower, it’s easy to see why some SEO professionals are becoming frustrated. But savvy web marketers see these as more than challenges – they see them as opportunities.

Use Your Voice

Not long ago, taking a note or making out your grocery list meant locating some paper and writing on it with a pen. Like a caveman.

Thankfully, those days are gone, or at least on their way out, having been replaced by technology.

Whether you’re using Siri to play your favorite song, asking Cortana how much the moon weighs, or having Alexa check the price of Apple stock, much of the internet is now available just by using your voice.

In 2023, 4.2 million digital personal assistant devices were being used worldwide. And that’s a number expected to double by 2024 as more and more people adopt the Amazon Echo, Sonos One, Google Nest Hub, and the like.

And users don’t even have their own one of these smart speakers to use the power of voice search. 90% of iPhone owners use Siri, and 75% of smartphone owners use Google Assistant.

According to Think with Google, 27% of the global population uses voice search on mobile devices.

Voice shopping grew by 213% from 2023 to 2023.

In 2023, 127 million Americans used in-car voice assistants.

Isn’t technology grand?

It depends on who you are. If you work in SEO (and because you’re reading this, we’re going to assume you do), this creates some problems.

The answer is quite obvious: You need to optimize for voice search.

Voice-controlled devices don’t operate like a manual search, so your SEO content needs to consider this.

And because people have figured out that more specific queries generate more specific responses, it’s important that your content fills that niche.

In general, specificity seems to be a growing trend in SEO, so it’s no longer enough to just have a web copy that says, “t-shirts for sale.”

Instead, you need to drill down to exactly what your target is searching for, e.g., “medium Garfield t-shirts + yellow + long-sleeve.”

What Does All This Mean For SEO?

Now that we’ve looked at the major reasons why pessimists and cynics are falsely proclaiming the demise of SEO, let’s review what we’ve learned along the way:

Google will never be satisfied with its algorithms. It will always feel there is room to grow and improve its ability to precisely answer a search query. And far from being the death knell for SEO, this ensures its importance moving forward.

Machine learning, especially regarding natural language, allows Google to better understand the intent behind a search and as a result, present more relevant options. Your content should focus on answering queries instead of just including keywords.

Long-tail keywords are important for answering specific questions, particularly in featured answer sections, but focusing solely on them is an outdated and ineffective strategy.

The use of voice search and personal digital assistants is on the rise. This calls for rethinking SEO strategies and optimizing content to be found and used by voice search.

Have you noticed a theme running through this entire piece? It’s evolution, survival of the fittest.

To ensure you don’t lose out on important web traffic, you must constantly monitor the SEO situation and adapt to changes, just like you always have.

Your strategy needs to become more sophisticated as new opportunities present themselves. It needs to be ready to pivot quickly.

And above all, you need to remember that your content is still the most important thing.

If you can best answer a query, your site will get the traffic you seek. If it can’t, you need to rework it until it does.

Just remember, like rock and roll, SEO will never die.

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