We still seem to have PageRank as an important ranking factor from Google, but have been told that Google is using a machine learning approach called RankBrain. The focus of this RankBrain approach is to help the search engine understand the meaning of queries better, and provide answers that (still) focus upon meeting the situational and informational needs of searchers.
Many of the classic SEO elements still hold a lot of weight, things like incoming links and internal structures so we’re having to optimize for those but at the same time most see the writing on the wall – AI is pushing its way into the algorithm and with it an increased ability for Google to understand a user’s intent and whether a page meets that intent and deliver that as a result that irrespective of many of those classic signals.
SEO techniques can be classified into two broad categories: techniques that search engine companies recommend as part of good design ("white hat"), and those techniques of which search engines do not approve ("black hat"). The search engines attempt to minimize the effect of the latter, among them spamdexing. Industry commentators have classified these methods, and the practitioners who employ them, as either white hat SEO, or black hat SEO. White hats tend to produce results that last a long time, whereas black hats anticipate that their sites may eventually be banned either temporarily or permanently once the search engines discover what they are doing.
SEO today is in many ways still a focused and specific discipline requiring experience and expertise. However, it has become much more dependent on, and integrated with, other digital marketing channels which is a good thing allowing for the scaling of content and resources. As most marketing is now digital, SEO has a proper seat at the table and place as a lead organic traffic driver contributing to end business goals.
Marketers understand that this "hunt mode" means that the searcher may very well be at the beginning, middle, or end stages of the buying cycle. When someone is researching a product or service to satisfy an immediate or future need they are in an unusual state: they desire relevant information and are open to digesting and acting on the information at their fingertips, all made possible by a search engine. This makes search engine results some of the best sources of targeted traffic, whether this traffic originates from "organic" unpaid search listings or paid advertising listings.
On a global and multilingual standpoint, when doing SEO in multiple languages and cultures, only a native language SEO specialist would truly understand the behaviors, usage, and types of keywords that respond to their market. Outside of the implementation of hreflang and market/language rich keywords, all the same rules apply to multilingual SEO as in regular English SEO.
Unfortunately, Google has stopped delivering a lot of the information about what people are searching for to analytics providers. Google does make some of this data available in their free Webmaster Tools interface (if you haven’t set up an account, this is a very valuable SEO tool both for unearthing search query data and for diagnosing various technical SEO issues).
Baseline ranking assessment. You need to understand where you are now in order to accurately assess your future rankings. Keep a simple Excel sheet to start the process. Check weekly to begin. As you get more comfortable, check every 30 to 45 days. You should see improvements in website traffic, a key indicator of progress for your keywords. Some optimizers will say that rankings are dead. Yes, traffic and conversions are more important, but we use rankings as an indicator.