What influences the SEO landscape today?
The pace at which Search Engine Optimisation is changing is enough to make anybody's head spin.
Well, it is probably not as bad as that, but in our fast paced technological world, we are constantly finding it hard to stay ahead. Back in the olden (golden?) days of Search, it was a lot easier to keep up with online trends and all that was required was to optimise your site to get that high Google ranking above your competitors and ultimately get more visitors to your site. Those days are something of the past and Search and the online digital world has evolved into much more.
Search Engines have realized that users no longer want stale, passive search results and have integrated an array of information from various sources like news, blogs, videos, maps and social networks to provide more fresh, relevant, timely and accurate results for the searcher.
Furthermore, Search Engines improved their ability to index and rank pages better, while also improving the experience found in the search engine result pages (SERP's). With the integration of search results (Integrated Search or Universal Search) as well as the inclusion of personalised search, localised search, mobile search and the options link in SERP's, users can now make their own decisions while doing searches.
Just recently all three major Search Engines announced the integration of real-time data from Twitter and Facebook into the search results. Google is calling it Social Search and pretty soon, you should see not only what the Search Engine is suggesting, but also what others are saying via social media relating to the search terms you entered. Search Engines are trying to provide more relevant, timely and accurate results and there is much talk of searching for information in real time. This is already happening now.
So, let's face it, as more people go online, now more than ever before in the history of the Internet, we see that they are getting more involved online. New websites or blogs are started up and new content is published daily to Flickr & YouTube, more people share their experiences from various kinds of online profiles, and many join social networks to engage in conversations and meet new people. These are pretty good indications that the online world is now driven by a new, vibrant generation who is constantly pushing the boundaries online. In addition, mobile technology allows us to no longer be tied to desktop PC's or Notebooks, essentially freeing us to do all of the above while we are in the local shop, or driving in our cars, or walking down the street. This makes information available on the go - and it can be searched from anywhere, at any time.
I think we cannot deny that the web is growing and the hunger for information is replaced by a new hunger - the need to be heard, the need to connect, the need to communicate, the need to relate. Communication has replaced the information age and has become the key to not only being found, but surviving in an all, digital world. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep your brand visible for anyone searching.
So where does that leave SEO?
The great thing about SEO is that it evolves along with the trends. There will always be a need for improved & optimized web pages, improved ranking and more site visitors, but the most important thing about SEO is that it is not just about getting more visitors to your site, it is all about consumer behaviour and engaging with that consumer.
Site owners and marketers should be increasingly concerned to attract a new audience of potential clients to their site, or clients' site, by combining the SEO of a site and integrating it with Web 2.0 platforms that allows you to easily bookmark or connect to social media and social networking sites. Whether you feel it is important to tap into social media or not, you have to be in the space where consumers operate. A shift is taking place, spear-headed by the Search (Google, Bing and Yahoo) and Social (Facebook, Flickr) giants, to push for a more personalised, social search experience. As a site owner, or marketer, you should be engaging with those users where they are, entice them to your page, site or blog and provide them with good content that is both interesting to read and creates the want to buy your product or service.
The role of the SEO/ Marketer is then more critical and has become more complex, more than what can be explained in one article, but it certainly requires that this individual has to understand how to integrate Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing. SEO's should know not only how to join these two but also understand the impact of Social Search and know what to do about it, how to analise it and report back to his client. A good SEO should be able to do all that and be able to tell educate his/her client on how to track those consumers, discover and analyse what they do and where they go.
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