IE | Blog | Shout Web Strategy: The Future of Search for Your Brand
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The Future of Search for Your Brand:

by Michael Jenkins

Michael is the Director of Shout Web Strategy, one of IE’s partners. He discusses how SEO will evolve over the coming years and what you should be looking to implement in your search strategy.

While much has changed on Google over the past few years, the fundamentals remain the same. Google wants to make sure that your intent is pure—this means that you don’t stuff content or use doorway pages to attract attention. Google’s intention is to enhance the user experience by providing the highest quality search results.

SEO is changing. Google is evolving—they’re becoming more involved in multiple facets of a user’s life to provide them with the best search results.

As responsible search engine marketers, we must keep in touch with developing trends to understand the best practices for receiving profitable search traffic.

5 Predictions for the Future of Search

1. SEO is not optimizing for search engines, it’s optimizing for people who use search engines 

Companies who are too reliant on technology and do not have enough of a human presence will lose their edge over the next few years as Google attempts to further understand more about how people search.

Take the recent hummingbird update. The entire idea of hummingbird is to mimic how humans search for content on mobile devices. This is especially important with new voice technology on phones where users speak into Google to request a search.

The importance of Hummingbird is that retail ecommerce sites that sells shoes must now consider how users search for products on their mobiles, and how they can get a larger slice of that traffic.

First, they will probably use the Google Voice search feature on the phone, because it is easier to do a search without typing. The request will go something like this: “running shoes for men. Size 10 shoes.”

Compare that to a keyword search that would go “running shoes men size 10.” Small, yet significantly different.

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2. The death of keyword data

Goodbye my dear friend, we wish you well! For as long as there has been Google search, there has been keyword research. The idea that you can get to the top of Google’s search results with the right keywords is a great idea, but unfortunately this idea is becoming harder to understand.

Last year Google dealt a major setback to search-optimized websites everywhere when they decided to remove Google Analytics.

However, a bigger setback to keyword research is the focus on the intent of the searcher. Google cares about the context of what the user is looking for in the first place.

This is what Amit Singhal, SVP, Engineering at Google meant when he said, “It’s why we’ve been working on an intelligent model — in geek-speak, a “graph” — that understands real-world entities and their relationships to one another: things, not strings.”

His example of the Taj Mahal perfectly illustrates this point. The Taj Mahal is a beautiful monument in India, a casino in New Jersey, or a Grammy winning singer. Keyword data doesn’t apply here because it is not complex enough to understand the meaning of the Google search.

 

3. SEO marketing will need to invest in a holistic content marketing strategy that is more than just writing, but also ads and branding.

The other issue is that content marketing, which is at the forefront of today’s search strategy, will need to be amplified by other search strategies.

Schema is a huge part of updates that Google has made over the past few years. A retail company that focuses solely on content to the exclusion of schema will not attract targeted visitors.

If there’s no schema when a visitor comes to the site, you’ll need to increase investment in retargeted ads. An old sales idiom is that customers buy after saying no seven times. While this is not true for every buyer, the majority of buyers come to your site once and then bounce off the site never to be seen again.

Retargeted Google search ads are a perfect complement to content marketing. Bring visitors to the site with useful content, and then come back with specials after they trust you.

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4. To build the type of search traffic of the future will require teams of people working together.

The days of the cowboy SEO operator are at an end. Just like the Wild West is no longer wild, there comes a point in every new discovery where it is just not possible for the Lone Ranger to work in such an environment.

Search engine traffic of the future requires not just a good content writer, but also a team of experts putting together something useful for consumers.

For retail stores, it could include a writer, developer, a branding lead, and a pay-per-click expert. While the writer creates the content, a technical expert would check for crawl errors on the site and web spam, and work the Meta data.

Then a branding expert will share that information across social media and press outreach to get the best coverage possible, while building up the image of the site.

Additionally, a good retail site will have a pay-per-click expert that places strategic ads to amplify the effect of the other members’ work. Finally, an analytics expert would navigate the increasingly complex search data to make sure that the efforts are successful.

SEO of the future will look more like a newsroom 20 years ago with a team of people working together producing a final product.

 

5. Watch for the upcoming technologies Google is focusing on like the Internet of Things and Google Now.

Finally, the future of search will be determined by technologies that are in their infancy. While it’s too early to determine which will be successful, some early contenders are appearing.

One of them is the Internet of Things (IoT). The Internet of Things is where all objects around us in the physical world can be turned into internet-enabled devices. According to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, the IoT is expected to be a $6.2 trillion industry by 2025. Things like wearables and the Nest Thermostat are just the tip of the iceberg for what will come out over the next few years.

This will be a boon to retailers. With all of the different internet enabled devices, it will provide a huge boost in data. This is where retailers thrive because they need data to understand consumer preferences. The IoT is like Christmas every day of the year for a retailer looking to understand what the consumer wants.

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Another is Google Now. A personal assistant that provides you personalized information based upon your actions on social media, calendar, and past search.

On a recent appointment on my Google calendar, Google not only gave me driving directions, but also walking and public transportation directions. This was great for someone leaving home without checking where my appointment was in advance.

This is just the start of what Google Now can do. Eventually, Google will increase the capabilities of the personal assistant so that it can help with purchases, reservations, tickets, and a host of other everyday tasks. The more it learns, the more it will affect how search happens.

Additionally, the more it learns the more it will find relevant items for you to check out on Google. This means that an inanimate software program will be giving personal recommendations to your target market that make or break your business. This is scary and full of potential for the people who understand how to work within in this new paradigm.

Final Thoughts

The future of SEO and Google is that we are getting to know more about the buyer, and how they work so that we’re interacting with them on a more personal level. The technology that is being created today is on the cusp of revolutionizing how this process works.