Martin Dimartino Marriott

Tag: google

The Future of SEO?

by Martin on Apr.13, 2010, under Articles by Martin, Blog

The game might soon be changing for search optimisation…

I was reading with interest in this week’s Marketing Week. A very interesting article detailing the recent developments in ’social search’, and brands now focusing more on ensuring that their marketing activity includes blogs and social media, since Google is now increasing the importance of this user generated content and social media activity in ranking your site. Thanks for the huge rise in mobile search and publishing, Google now ranks tweets among the usual search results, so clearly, the definition of ‘relevancy’ is shifting.

The strategy of the week for marketers now appears to be that instead of competing for search supremacy, they’re trying to target the influencers, making them ‘brand advocates’ using social media at a more grassroots level, according to the article. That’s quite an audacious strategy, as we already know that using social media as a non-value-added one-way marketing channel is bound to fail, and slam your reputation.

What’s more concerning, though, isn’t these changes in what’s ranked, but something somewhat outside the brand’s control. A site’s ranking will soon differ depending on who searches! Google is now moving search along a step further in its relentless quest for relevancy.
Just as we thought Google wasn’t getting more scary, the search algorithm now analyses the activity of an individual users’ social profiles and past search history, and uses this as a heuristic to make a guess at what it thinks you’re looking for. So a site’s ranking cannot be consistent or absolute anymore. Bad news for SEO consultants.
The crucial thing is that search optimisation and ranking are being brought closer to the whole business strategy itself; on-line marketing strategy will just become the strategy, perhaps finally closing the disparity.

Of course, there are upsides and downsides, depending on who you are.

This could mean that only people who are actually interested in your product or brand will find your site, indeed if it’s optimised and if Google ‘guesses’ correctly and lets you see it!
I would expect this kind of intelligent search to become more accurate over time, perhaps harnessing crowd intelligence of many users terms to help the process.
So that should surely mean a better conversion rate, and better relevancy for a more narrow set of key words. It’s great for consumers as one would find what they’re looking for more quickly.

However, it could mean that businesses who are entirely internet-based, may need to go as far as revising their very strategy, becoming more focused in exactly the market they’re aimed at or the products they stock; it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to expect a reduced amount of traffic for a poorly-focused marketing strategy.

Rolling with it…

As I said, this could be bad news for SEO consultancies, who may soon have much-reduced control over a site’s exposure. Perhaps the scope of their job needs to change instead if they’re to remain relevant in future.

Businesses have to innovate to stay ahead, and if they don’t, someone else will, and it just so happens that Google has changed the game a little in this case, soon forcing marketers and SEO people to adapt.
How? Well SEO people may now have to redefine their role to be broader social media and on-line strategy consultants, ensuring their clients are represented in search results of a more specific nature and based on the new metrics of social media activity, and narrowed relevancy. A significant challenge to an already-arcane art, likely to spawn a new generation of ‘gurus’.

Google have become the driving force of innovation in user experience on-line, evolving their search product as the content on-line changes; and now in their quest for relevancy, they’ve changed the rules for what defines ‘relevant’ and given on-line marketers something else to think about when it comes to optimising their site.

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