SEO is one of those mystical words that’s over used, undervalued and very rarely is truly understood. What’s more, SEO has and continues to evolve, which makes it even more difficult for people to quantify why they need it and how to go about it. Along those lines, a common challenge within the SEO universe starts with a certain mindset; “I need SEO” or “I want to do some SEO” are requests we hear frequently. To a degree, these notions infer that SEO is a product you can pick up off the shelf and purchase. However, that’s unfortunately untrue. There is no drive-by SEO solution. Being so close to SEO, we occasionally have to remind ourselves that people might still need to be convinced of “why” they need SEO. To bottom line it, SEO – or lack there of – can impact sales, brand awareness, marketing return, market share and overall business growth.
What’s Important, What’s Changed.
Before we dive further into SEO details, we feel it’s important to touch on what we mentioned in the intro; SEO is a process, not a product and your mindset will directly affect your success. SEO takes time – it’s a marathon and not a sprint. If you’re looking for a more immediate solution then paid search might makes more sense. However, if you do want to pursue better organic rankings having patience, flexibility and a long-term vision are crucial. To understand what you need and how to get started you need to first wrap your mind around the macro view of current day SEO.
Depending on which circles you travel in, you might hear the occasional whisper that “SEO is dead.” SEO is not dead, but it has changed, which is why it’s even more important to make sure your understanding is in-sync with current day SEO best practices.
Current SEO Trends
A big trend in SEO, and specifically Google, is to focus on the user. This new focus pushes for valuable content that provides real value for the end user. It’s not as simple as identifying some key words and then sprinkling them throughout your site or content. Nope, now the focus is on creating authentic content that is not only relevant, but directly helps your target audience. This approach reinforces the notion of no ‘drive-by solutions,’ specifically if you recall Google’s Hummingbird update in 2013. Hummingbird focused on the whole meaning of a query and not just a word. Rooted in the notion of “semantic search,” SEO has evolved past strictly key words to be more conversational. And, for clarity, Semantic search “seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable data space” (per Wikipedia). Think of it this way: search today is more like calling and talking to a customer service representative instead of a bunch of automated prompts. The live person on the other end of the phone is in tune with why you’re calling and how to help. It’s conversational and provides value and solutions (where the automated prompts probably just inspire a bunch of expletives).
Mobile has also directly impacted search, specifically Google’s mobile update last April. Termed “mobilegedden” by some, this trend makes sense when you consider 43% of Americans use mobile devices as their primary search tool (per the Mobile Marketing Association). Part of Google’s mobile focus was to penalize sites that provide a poor mobile experience. If you’re not optimizing for mobile search you’re missing out because more search will continue to happen via mobile. What’s more, mobile has an even greater impact for local search because, according to Google, 50% of all mobile searches have local intent.
We touched on only a few of the bigger changes to search and SEO to give a sense of what’s important from a high level; user experience, content and authenticity. Going back to the live phone operator versus the automated voice prompts, it’s no stretch to imagine that the modern day reality of SEO requires a strategy, time and long-term goals. If it all seems a little daunting that’s understandable but it’s important to remember SEO is not going anywhere. It has changed and will continue to do, which is all the more reason to stay out front of trends. The overall takeaway here is: Even though SEO is very fluid it doesn’t mean it should be ignored. The best place to start is to determine where your website falls in the search landscape. Get started HERE.