Okay, why would a nationwide social media-consulting firm be concerned about the future of Search Engine Optimization? There is a long answer or a short one; to keep it brief, we’ll go with the short one….here at Maximize we make it our business to help you with YOUR business. SEO remains an important part of comprehensive Internet marketing both for our firm as well as that of our clients. In fact, one of the benefits to be derived from a solid social media marketing campaign is enhanced SEO. Once upon a time, SEO was one of the only games in town when it came to Internet marketing but the advent of social media changed all that. However, SEO is volatile and the future of SEO is even more disruptive than the past few years. In fact, the future of SEO is fast approaching with changes that make current online advertising look downright dull. Keep reading to discover what the future of SEO has in store and what every business and marketing consultant needs to be doing NOW to prepare!
Big Change #1 – The Death of Keywords!
Veteran online marketing pros will long remember the first use of keywords. Initially reserved for only the largest online websites, keywords finally allowed search engines to locate websites based on something other than a rudimentary directory. Believe it or not, websites were originally indexed one at a time on mega-directories, which relied upon a taxonomy for classification. The arrival of keywords was a major milestone in search technology but like many things in life…what is old can become new again and that seems to be the case with SEO except with a couple of very important differences. The death of keywords won’t happen overnight; instead, keywords will be replaced with concepts. In turn, those concepts will be associated with validated links to authenticated information, resources and response(s) able to “answer” questions.
Take Away -
Big brands are already preparing for this future transition by including “questions” embedded into new content. Why questions? Because those will form the foundation of future authenticated content. Take a lesson from the big boys and start to utilize a few well-formed questions when writing blog posts, newsletters or other long-term content.
Big Change #2 – The Rise of the Smart Search.
This goes by several different names; years ago it was “natural language queries”, today it is the semantic web or structured data…whatever you want to call it the concept is more or less the same…the search engine of the future will not need keywords but rather the ability to comprehend the conceptual questions being asked. Progress has been made toward this objective with current search queries showing a strong likelihood of pertinent results for longer sentence based queries versus single keywords. This trend will continue until the number of words begins to narrow again…even to the point of a single word albeit, not necessarily a keyword. To accomplish this, the search engine of the future will evaluate many points of data to come to a probabilistic conclusion of intent; for example, geographic location, age of the user, socio-economic status, prior purchasing behavior and other profile information will form the foundation for understanding intent…and therefore the ability to supply the best possible results. For example, a query for “delivery” may indicate information on the nearest hospital for expecting parents or the desire to order a pizza at a college dorm. By combining GPS, personal profiles, prior search and other data the search engine of the future is more likely to “understand” the intent of the search based upon all the given data of the user.
Take Away -
Savvy business owners, SEO and even social media marketing firms should be integrating location based information, GPS, maps , mobile and real-time data at every given opportunity. The more information provided the better.
Big Change #3 – Trust, Validation and Verification.
Call these the “Big 3″ of future SEO…and remember, you heard it here first! The issue of trust, validation and verification cannot be overstated when it comes to the future of SEO. Especially as the use of mobile becomes mainstream, users must have assurance the search results are relevant, reliable and useful. In this instance, two out of three just doesn’t cut it! Imagine for a moment a business “hijacking” a profile page of another business; the harm to both prospective clients as well as the business itself could be severe. Clearly trust, validation and verification are needed to make sure that business entities are who they claim to be…and vice versa! Online advertisers targeting consumers need assurance their advertising dollars are reaching the intended audience.
Take Away -
“Owning” your own data will become more and more important in the future; the greater the insight and access to existing clients, the more relevant your SEO and social media marketing will become.
Big Change #4 – Wild West of Content Claims.
Anyone that lived through the dot-com bubble of the 90′s is likely to remember the old adage “content is king”…well, it’s back stronger than ever but the reason why might surprise you. Like the Wild West of yesteryear, big brands understand the fact that content is a numbers game; the more content – the better. SEO strategies have changed over the years but one thing has remained the same…quality original content is still as valuable…indeed, more valuable…today than it was a decade ago. The longer the content remains on the site, the more total viewers it has, the more reliable it becomes. In fact, the USIRS has recently recognized this change and rewritten the tax code to reflect the changes!
Take Away -
Invest in quality original content today…demand is only growing stronger with each passing year. Duration + traffic + relevance = better rankings today and tomorrow.