Search engines are always changing, and ignoring those changes is simply not an option for anyone who needs to ensure their brand is still ranking high and driving traffic. Algorithm's will always be tweaked, but what are some of the bigger trends in the future of SEO?
Last week I took a trip to this year's second and final BrightonSEO conference, where this question attracted a jammed room of search professionals all eager to learn more. It sparked a lot of conversation about how the roles of a search marketer will develop in the coming years. If you missed out on BrightonSEO, couldn't get into the hall for the talk, or simply want a recap, here are some of the things that SEO professionals are going to need to learn to succeed in the search engines of tomorrow.
1. Design For Humans Before Tech
We heard directly from Bing how they're looking to provide an increasingly useful search engine by keeping in mind who is searching, and what they are searching for. By keeping these principles in mind, businesses will be able to remain focused on driving relevant traffic while simultaneously venturing into cutting edge search technology.
"From looking at how people are searching, and how they want to search, we've thought about the experience we want Bing to provide. We are continually developing our search engine to be ever-more personal, pervasive, and predictive, while also keeping user privacy at the core of everything we do. Here’s what we mean by that:
Personal: User-focussed, natural searches that reflect who is searching and why they are searching.
Pervasive: Search options will be everywhere, on every device. We need to ensure that the delivery is top quality on all of them, providing an experience the user expects.
Predictive: Search engines will learn from consumers, making them better at predicting."
In the last month, 69% of American smartphone owners have used voice-activated technology.1 This number is set to rise as Amazon, Google, and Apple have all invested substantially in communicative voice technology. The primary use for these digital assistants so far is search, while the second and fifth most used requests to voice devices are to enquire about products and brands respectively. This means a massive opportunity for marketers is afoot, but presuming that your existing text-based strategy is automatically going to be good enough in a spoken interaction is naively optimistic.
"Voice is a natural communication method for us, and the way people search with voice reflects that. Brands not only need to adapt their SEO to align with how people are searching via voice, but also prepare content that will be delivered via voice search. Research what people want from your brand when they speak to it? What do they expect it to sound like? Voice is a far more emotional delivery method than text, and brands who understand how to make meaningful connections via voice will be the ones getting ahead when this search medium's user base grows."
3. Social Listening Will Be Key To Real Time SEO Success
What's trending on social, both at a macro and niche level, will inevitably see a bump in search traffic. By having social listening queries in place to capture the zeitgeist of your industry, you'll be in place to build strong SEO content at a moment's notice. In his talk, Daniel Rowles (CEO of Target Intent) highlighted how his team had written over fifty blogs, of only about 400 words, that ended up ranking at the top of search engines due to being early and relevant.
Feeding this insight into your PPC strategy will also yield cheaper clicks, as you take advantage of the topic before your competitors have time to compete with you.
"Keyword tools show what people are already searching for, but by the time you have created something in response it's too late to have much influence. By monitoring key terms on social media and setting up alerts for them, you can see what new conversations are happening, and react early enough to rank on search engines."
74% of consumers view search engines as "extremely trustworthy" when researching a purchase, as much as a brand's website,2 so more content is moving to the search page (ratings, reviews, maps, etc.) to take advantage of this trust. This is part of a wider movement whereby search engines are being engineered to provide what people want, as quickly as possible. This will be greatly beneficial to users searching via voice, watch, or Internet of Things devices, where scrolling through 10+ options isn't an ideal user experience. As a result, the importance of clinging to the top spot in key terms surrounding your brand, and ideally your industry, is only going to rise.
Boosting your rankings for local, specific, and conversational terms will provide you with a head start as this trend becomes more prominent.
But what about now?
Whatever advances and usage trends affect search, one thing will remain: it will be vital to know what's working. If you're a business that generates sales or provides support via the phone, make a start today by discovering how search is impacting those calls, and how to generate more. Start a conversation with us today to see how Infinity makes attribution clear, for transformative search strategies.
Product Marketing Manager Andy has spent years obsessively analysing B2B and B2C digital marketing campaigns and technology. Outside of his family, his main loves are Woking FC, his Xbox and his National Trust membership.