How long will SEO continue to focus on the optimization of 10 blue links on a web page?
Following a technical SEO checklist can increase visibility and traffic to your website. This is a simple statement, however after many years of evaluating the Search performance of hundreds of businesses I’ve realized just how straightforward solutions often are.
Working in the past with Bing – together with those who decide what should or shouldn’t rank high in a search engine result page – I have strengthened my idea about he beautiful simplicity of SEO. The principles of accessibility are still similar to a few years ago. Today the difference is made by the quality of the content which in essence is a marketing and public relations effort.
If after applying all the possible “technical SEO best practices” the difference is only made by the budget available to create and promote great content, what is the role and value of “traditional” SEO?
Keywords vs Task completion. The first new key task is to be at the forefront in understanding what users want and being able to respond accordingly.
Google responds to 3.5 billion searches daily – 15% of these are combinations of words that the Search Engine had not processed before.
Search is evolving very quickly. The “long tail” has already changed the process of classification and indexation of search engines pushing the software to process the semantic connection of billions of combinations.
Inevitably, this has led to a change in the optimization strategies. Keywords are therefore almost a concept of the past. Now users interact more maturely and Google with the Hummingbird algorithm is adapting to this evolution.
The new scenario is leading digital optimization strategies to a “task completion” approach.
Basically, the intermediate step as we know it today, which provides a transit between researching and finding information, will be bypassed and the search engines will be destined to become architectural software that allow users to complete their “task” without the need of a website or a browser in the middle.
This process is part of a technological evolution, from watches to fridges, through toasters and heating appliances. Everything that is connected to the web can potentially have a search function and an integrated response.
In this new world, the experience of a site in a browser becomes completely irrelevant. The only thing that matters is access to the information necessary to complete a task.
Before getting to this futuristic vision, there will be steps needed to integrate the data required for building the infrastructure. There are various examples of the direction Google is taking on this path: Google Instant Answer, Knowledge Graph, Google Now Cards, Gmail Actions and Highlights.
Structuring the web through mark-up is the beginning of an evolution toward a search experience quite different from today. The idea is to bridge the gap between the research and response. We are heading towards the “zero time task completion.”
In this new context, brands need to take essential actions for future success:
Create content that meets the needs of users
Focusing on keywords is not a priority anymore, the new mantra should be to create informative and very useful content for users. On top of this, it needs be UX optimized as Google is integrating more and more elements of UX into their algorithm. Building pages that respond to user needs beyond text by utilizing engaging content and media.
Increase your direct traffic
This should be the key objective of any online business. Traditional and online advertising, loyalty programs, exclusive offers, promotion on social networks, display advertising, etc. All of these strategies are essential to create a community around a brand which will lead directly and indirectly to a better SEO performance. Without this critical mass, everything else becomes much more expensive and difficult to maintain.
Optimize for mobile first
The competition for success is played on the mobile field. Mobilegeddon, one of the recent operations of the Google PR department, was designed to push companies and individuals to invest in developing mobile-friendly sites. According to Google, 5% of sites “optimized” their presence at the last minute to avoid possible penalties.
This is a huge figure and demonstrates the power of Google. They managed once again to push the world towards a web more accessible in line with their original mission of organizing all the information available on the net for easy access.
Marketing and technology are changing on a daily basis. Those who know the curiosity and the ability of the SEO world, know that no other digital marketing area will be more prepared to deal with the changes happening in the online space.