How SEO is Evolving, and What You Can Do to Drive Traffic
The world of SEO (search engine optimization is one of constant change.) Ever since Google revolutionized the internet, and made search engines the apparent hubs of all modern knowledge, the system has been refined and experimented on.
There is one key principle that has always been the same, though: relevance. SEO is all about making sure that a website’s content is seen by the search engines as the most relevant results for the search in question. The reason search engines have constantly been changing is to make sure that what shows up as the most relevant is also the most helpful information possible for the user.
“Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.” – Wendy Piersall
Let’s take a look at the four biggest changes that are happening right now in search engine optimization.
Big Change #1: Voice, AI, and Growing Beyond Google
More and more people are inviting search engines into their homes in a more direct and personal way. The rise of smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home represents a fundamental shift in how people search for products and information. It’s also happening on mobile devices, since they are harder to type on than desktop keyboards.
Rather than typing out a question or a search term, they are able to ask naturally, while continuing to work on other tasks, just as if they were conversing with another person. Artificial intelligence is making this process even smoother, as smart assistants are now able to contact businesses directly to set appointments and make other inquiries over the phone. Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently demoed this technological breakthrough to much applause.
Amazon has already been in this game a little longer than others, with its AI assistant Alexa, but they and Google aren’t going to be the only ones in it for long. Apple’s Siri may soon see refinements that put it back on par with its competitors, and there’s a lot of room for other players.
“As search continues its migration to mobile devices and a larger percentage of those queries are initiated by voice, there are important content and SEO implications. In addition, those queries will become more transactional over time as virtual assistants permit bookings and conversions using voice.” (Greg Sterling, Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land)
What you can do:
Have your web content optimized to be found by all kinds of voice searches, and to be read back aloud to the user. The more natural and authoritative the text sounds, the more compelling it will be.
Get in on the AI game. Be prepared to interface with AI assistants constantly, and make sure your own are ready to handle this incoming wave. Make sure you optimize for Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and whoever else comes up with an AI voice assistant in the near future, in addition to all the focus given up to now to Google’s search algorithms.
Big Change #2: Mobile over Desktop
Another one of the major changes in SEO has to do with the shift from desktop to mobile devices. Smartphones have gotten really smart. Combined with the benefits of cloud storage and computing, they are now powerful enough to do as much as almost any desktop out there.
Search results are increasingly geared towards pages that are optimized for display on mobile devices. If your content is hard to access and read immediately on mobile, you will start losing contact with your market.
What you can do:
Make sure that your website has a mobile version that is user-friendly and easy to read. In the long term, we see this as a permanent shift, although desktops will remain useful in the workplace and for some home applications.
Big Change #3: Individual over Universal
Search engines are increasingly prioritizing results that are more relevant to each individual in their specific location. This is great news for small, locally-oriented businesses, and anyone else seeking to strengthen commerce in their community.
Someone whose car just broke down in an unfamiliar town, for example, is no longer necessarily going to get Auto Zone’s home page at the top of their Google results if there’s a perfectly good local mechanic just up the street from them. This is true as long as the local shop’s web content is well-optimized.
In an article about this and other important changes in SEO for this year, Forbes refers to this trend as Hyperlocal Marketing, “the process of targeting customers (or presenting search results) based on physical proximity, down to less than a block radius.” They also note the following:
“With more mobile use than ever before and the rising relevance of VR and AR, companies currently involved in local SEO will need to do more to target hyperlocal keywords and optimize for even more locally relevant appearances.”
What you can do:
Make sure to have good and authentic human connections with your local community, and make sure they can find you online with relevant keywords referring to local places and events.
The internet and globalization, in general, have been great for making connections around the world, but it looks like Google and others are trying to make sure that we don’t forget about our immediate neighbors in the process
Big Change #4: Video
Increasingly, searchers are enjoying the benefits of video content more often. This has become possible thanks to better network infrastructure and faster mobile data speeds.
Although many people still enjoy reading text articles, blogs, books, and other written content, there are several huge advantages that come by conveying your message via video.
The old saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, videos are just lots of pictures, really fast.
In other words, with video (and accompanying audio), you have the ability to deliver several orders of magnitude more information in far less time. With video, it’s easier to convey specific feelings through tone and music. It’s also much more personal when a company leader or representative makes an appeal via video, rather than via an article that might have been ghostwritten.
We expect to see many search engines rank this sort of content much higher going forward. We may even see voice searches connect users to video results, whether through audio-only playback, or on linked screen devices.
For that reason, there’s still no reduction in the need for high-quality written material. As we mentioned before, the more natural your written articles sound when read aloud, the better. The same goes for video interviews.
What you can do:
Make sure that your content increasingly comes in the form of well-scripted video, in addition to traditional written content, in order to appeal to a wider audience and enjoy these other benefits.
If you need help implementing new strategies to succeed in the context of these changes in SEO, reach out to us at BoomDemand. We’re experts in creating authentic, relevant, and trustworthy web content that helps your customers. First, it helps them find you, and then it helps you solve their problems with a BOOM!