Posted by Clayton Johnson | March 29, 2018
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – In a surprising turn of events, Google has transformed it’s ranking algorithm seemingly overnight as new tests reveal a POWERFUL new ranking factor that is taking the industry by storm.
With this new ranking factor, Google is sending a big message that it cares much more about keeping users “happy” with search results and is turning up the dial on user experience versus traditional signals like links and content.
During recent psychographic testing with the search quality rating team, one particular website variant increased levels of serotonin, the “happiness” hormone, by a whopping 343%, leading search quality raters to grade a website much higher.
Google has taken these tests into account and now is heavily relying on the presence of this factor to skyrocket a website’s ranking.
What was the magical variant?
The studies prove that literally just integrating cat pictures into your website was the single differential that performed well across the board in all demographics.
“I thought it was ridiculous at first, but as an SEO and conversion rate optimization specialist, I’m a data-driven marketer – I had to test, and the results blew me away.” Says Allison Marrow, senior search director at Settle SEO.
“By simply incorporating pictures of kittens in our client’s websites, our dwell time shot up, our CTRs, our rankings, and most importantly, sales increased more than 90% in less than 30 days”
In fact, no other user-rating test scored anywhere near as high as placing cute kittens on pages.
Now the SEO game has shifted to rewarding those who can simply get the most natural, cutest, most engaging cat photos.
By placing pictures of cats on websites, webmasters are experiencing massive jumps in rankings and search traffic.
Data Behind The Algorithm Change
UX (or user experience) metrics are gaining momentum as a ranking factor in the search results, as the importance of traditional ranking signals like on page optimization and link based signals are declining over time.
Search Analyst Dean Mardaw of Engetix SEO explains “When users find something they like on a page, they tend to stay on the page longer. This is called dwell time and is becoming an important part of the ranking equation. Embedding cat video, or even crudely photoshopping a picture of a kitten onto your product pages has shown to keep people on your page 283% longer!”
This all makes sense, as the internet is just turning their love for cats. Looking at Google trends, people searching for cats is at an all time high.
The response from the industry has been mixed, with some SEO firms quickly embracing the change, and others paralyzed in shock and disbelief.
“It’s so simple, I can’t believe no one saw this coming. The trend line for people searching for cat pictures and videos is insane, why not hop on the train?” said Amanda Hunter, senior CRO specialist for Webnetics SEO.
“Most people have been very negative about the update, but I think it’s important to keep a good paw-sitive attitude about it all”
Julia Cieutat from The HOTH X Managed SEO team also provided an update, “We started picking up the trend months ago as a joke, but it turns out our pet care facilities were ranking unusually easily.”
“The reality is nobody really wants to hear about your products or service any more. They just want more cats, and now we have the data to prove it.”
Others weren’t so happy about the update:
“This is a complete cat-astrophe” says Lisa Dunning, senior SEO specialist at a local agency.
News Breaks, Overnight Millionaires Made
Bonnie Lyon, owner of www.purr-paws-stock-photography.com, became an overnight millionaire as thousands of users flocked to purchase stock photos of cats to incorporate on their own websites.
“I couldn’t believe it. People need these cat pictures, and now I’m RICH AS F!!!!”
However, SEO veterans are warning against using the same pictures as everyone else. “You definitely don’t want to get yourself into a situation of dupli-cat content.”
Shifting Algorithm, Shifting Jobs
“I’ve been in this industry for 10 years, I have ranked some of the most competitive terms online with strategic link acquisition programs, and now I’m basically a glorified cat shit scooper just to keep my job”
The popular SEO tool Ahrefs is reportedly frantically working to create image detection software to crawl and analyze cat pictures. The rumored name for the tool is the “Catgap Analysis” and while it’s in beta, users attest the tool litter-ally scoops through pages to find the cat media.
Joe Cardelli from The Belford Agency warns that this change may not be as simple as it seems. “Google is really looking for a natural amount of cats on your website. If you over-do it, you may be penalized from over-optimization. You have to get your ratios purrfect.”
Further Demographic Testing
The news came as a blow to dog lovers across the SEO community as cats are getting so much attention. But all hope is not lost as further testing continues.
Jim Kurzweil, a director at a large SEO agency chimed in on how “man’s best friend” has been fairing in new tests:
“Cats perform well across the board, however dogs actually are crushing it in in certain verticals like motorcycles, chainsaws, and hair loss creams. The CTRs are through the woof!”
The Future Of SEO
What will come of the SEO industry as these radical shifts roll out?
“This isn’t the first Google animal update” said Kurzweil, “We’ve dealt with Penguins and Pandas before… but if you want to survive this, you have to get started… right MEOW.”
Happy April Fools!
Clayton Johnson is the CMO of The HOTH SEO company. He has over 8+ years experience in the SEO industry and has spoken at events like SEJ Summit. The HOTH has been featured in Inc 5000, Forbes, SMX, Pubcon, Content Marketing World, Affiliate Summit, Brighton and more.