SEO is not a new concept, but it does evolve constantly. What worked a few years ago, or even a few months ago, may not be what gets the job done today. It's a competitive industry, and Google's frequent algorithm updates ensure that marketers are always on their toes.
In the big picture, SEO has grown from a narrow field dominated by self-made experts to a respected, indispensable part of every element of modern marketing. It influences how we write content, design websites, develop marketing plans, convert our online sales funnel, and operate on social media. Let's take a look at the trends, and how you can use them to take your marketing to the next level.
The Importance of the User Experience on Mobile and Beyond
Mobile browsing is hugely popular, and growing by the minute. Recent research indicates that 80 percent of online adults now own a smartphone, so it's no surprise that Google's algorithms place increasing importance on the quality of mobile usability.
- Mobile optimization focuses primarily on the user experience. For a mobile site to rank highly, it needs to be responsive with a fast load time. A responsive site scales to the size of whatever screen it's on, providing a seamless browsing experience for mobile device users.
- User experience matters for your “big” site, too. That means intuitive design and fast loading times are becoming more important than old standbys like keywords and links.
Social Engagement Matters
Social marketing has been important for years, and will remain important for the foreseeable future. It just might look a little different. The latest SEO updates are placing increasing importance on engagement through social.
In other words, you can't simply create a Twitter page and flood it with content. If you want your social presence to benefit your search ranking, you need to engage with your community. Quality content is a strong starting point, as long as it comes with real interaction.
Social marketing must ALWAYS start with ‘purpose’ and strategy… and I’m here to tell you, there IS an SEO ‘purpose’ for amplifying your content on social media channels. So many companies are missing the mark on how to do this effectively.
Local Search for Small Businesses
Most small businesses ply their trade in relatively well-defined areas, so the importance of local search is part common sense. Marketers have been operating under this assumption for a while, and now the search algorithms are catching up.
Effective SEO for small businesses increasingly depends on the quality of local search optimization. Start simple, by making sure the pages on your website include accurate phone and address listings, and pursuing listings on local search directories.
And if your business supports multiple locations, be sure to be consistent with your SEO for all locations.
Semantic Search Is Alive & Well
In spite of some of the current crap you read on “SEO Blogs”, semantic search is alive and well. Most search users frame their queries as questions, or in something resembling sentence form. So if you are structuring your content around answering your potential customers’ questions, then you will not only be targeting that potential customer, but may also rank higher through semantic search.
Statically, longer search queries are generated by a more qualified user. That user is, often times, further along in the buying cycle. Why wouldn’t you want to attract that user?
In addition, it is often easier to rank for longer keyword phrases than trying to rank for the one-word, more competitive keywords. While your traffic numbers may be lower, your traffic will be more qualified and targeted - with a potentially higher conversion or ROI.
In knowing your target audience, optimizing for their longer search queries, and satisfying their need (by answering their questions), you are one step closer to a conversion.
Conversion Optimization Is Key
So why is conversion optimization important to SEO? Because the user experience is determined by what they do on your website. Why would you go to all the trouble (and expense) to attract that targeted user only to lose them because you did not put them in your conversion funnel?
Optimizing for the user experience is NOT new to SEO! I’ve been at this for 10+ years and it’s been a key component in my SEO consulting practice from the beginning. It’s only more talked/written about and emphasized in recent years.
Make Time for Analytics
Everything you do online is measurable and trackable. Analytics are the engine that powers successful digital marketing, and crunching the numbers is more important than ever.
However, a sad fact remains that even though analytics is free and more accessible than ever, most businesses are not monitoring and/or setting up their analytics to strategically monitor online marketing performance.
Google Analytics’ offerings provide powerful tools for almost any size business. Getting in there to regularly consult your analytics will give you a clear picture of what's working, what's not, and most importantly, why that's the case.
What piques and sustains my interest - and keeps me in the game - is that the field of SEO is always evolving. At the end of the day, SEO reflects and defines how users browse the Web, if they find what they are looking for, how quickly they find it, and what they do once they find it. And with power of social media, online word-of-mouth marketing is at an all-time high. It's no surprise, then, that SEO has, and always will be, an always evolving ‘constant’ in the online marketing space.