Thoughts on SEO, Mobile UX, and Content Marketing
Search engines are evolving, and they’re still a few steps behind mobile growth and adoption. But hey, they’re trying.
Google, Microsoft, and Apple are charging full steam ahead when it comes to creating mobile devices and enhancing their experiences for consumers. While the mobile divisions of these businesses are paving the way for new UX opportunities, the search engine side of Google and Microsoft are following a few steps behind (but still on the right path.)
Future Search Trends Still Revolve Around Humans
As we enter the last quarter of 2014, we can clearly see where some search trends are headed.
- We saw some major updates come out of Google this year. Updates focused on local search and mobile UX. The Pigeon update, which focused on local search, seemed like a step in the wrong direction as it rewarded aggregates (Yelp, Citysearch, YP) more than actual local business sites. You could also look at it as an opportunity for small businesses to actually build and optimize their site. A small business site in a sea of Yelp listings on Google search could really stand out! A major update is also on the horizon that will, bring “tears of despair” if you haven’t acted on Google’s web spam warnings in the past. Brace yourself for the Penguin 3.0 update.
- Microsoft recently put more energy into their own virtual assistant, Cortana (rival of Apple’s Siri and Google Now.) Expect more emphasis on the linguistic user experience and voice search. Apple’s big iPhone 6 launch date has been confirmed, and I’m sure that we’re going to learn about major updates to Siri as well. Start thinking beyond the “device” and start thinking about the experience. Natural language search is going to continue to grow, as we communicate and experience our devices more than we simply “use” them.
- Content marketing is going to continue to be seen as a necessity as natural language search and mobile searches continue to increase in demand and use. Our search behavior has changed dramatically over the years, and our search engines are acting accordingly by delivering results based on topical (conversational) relevance versus exact keyword matching. Content creators will need to focus on making truly useful and resourceful content. Blogs will continue to add value – don’t forget the giant Hummingbird update from last year. Context is king.
Things are changing at a rapid pace. As I wrap up this post, I can’t help but think about how different things will be in a year or two from now. Apple is sure to release the iWatch this year, which will undoubtedly continue to push the wearable tech industry even further. Search will continue to be more personalized, more human, and easily made over complicated by industry experts. If you’re a marketer or a small business owner, remember the human on the other end of the Wi-Fi connection that you’re trying to reach. You should make it through these troubled optimization times just fine.
Keep These Search Trends in Mind
- Get your mobile strategy together. I’m dead serious about being mobile friendly. You can’t leave 2014 without a mobile solution. I see Google and Bing increasing the weight of mobile friendly web design in search engine results in the very near future. After a recent webinar we hosted with our friends in the family entertainment industry, it’s pretty clear that businesses think their website is mobile friendly, but truly is not at all. I suggest starting out with mobile responsive design for most small and medium sized businesses.
- Create useful content. Aim for topic optimization and authority, but don’t abandon an actual keyword strategy. You still need these to map out your goals and strategic planning.
- There are no shortcuts in SEO. Well… There are, but prepare to cry yourself to sleep when your site is aggressively devalued or slapped with a manual penalty as Google continues to update its algorithms.
- Blend your content marketing with images, video, and podcasts. Dynamic pages typically create a better user experience. Don’t believe me? Look at GIF and video updates that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, and Pinterest of made.
- If you’re a local business, you have many ranking factors to worry about with local listings and traditional organic search results. You need to seriously consider hiring a professional Internet marketer on staff, outsourcing to an agency, both, or heavily investing in your own knowledge to keep up with all of these changes. Google and Bing are trying to improve the local search experience for your clients, but this has lead to more work for businesses that want to keep up and benefit from inbound marketing.
Photo by Jay Wennington via Unsplash