Our SEO team would certainly argue that SEO isn’t dead, for starters they’re still in gainful employment, and technical SEO skills are still in high demand across the UK.
“…If this were the case, I wouldn’t find myself knee deep in excel spreadsheets full of metrics analysing website performance on a daily basis! In fact, with the developments in web development, design and user’s expectations, I’d say my technical skills are getting increasingly pushed and challenged…”
One of the first reports of the untimely demise of search was back in 1997 when search engines were declared a “dead-end technology” (when our SEO manager was just starting secondary school!). What has undoubtedly changed since then is the ease at which typical quick win SEO hacks can increase organic visibility – it it is harder to pull the wool over Google’s eyes for any length of time now that algorithms are updating more regularly.
“Those that claim SEO are dead, are probably saying it because the ‘one size fits all formula’ they used to use as a hack for search rankings has become obsolete. It is far easier to say the industry has fallen to its feet than try and adapt. Search marketing in this day and age needs to be a tailored approach, taking in to consideration industry, niche, market saturation, demographics and of course the state of a website from an on and off site perspective …”
We’d argue that data that claims that SEO has run its course is wide of mark, and, with the ever evolving state of search and technical developments online, it is as important as ever.
Take a recent study by the National Retail Federation, for example, which revealed that search marketing – including SEO – was the most effective source for acquiring new customers in 2014 for 85% of online retailers.
The only thing that might be dead then are some SEO practices – and that has been the state of play in search marketing for years – but there´s no need to dwell too much on them. As Search Engine Land says, and most search marketers will agree, SEO will continue to evolve in 2015. It highlights a few techniques brands will need to master if they are to keep in touch with its evolution.
Encourage collaborative working between creative and SEO
How well aligned are your digital marketing teams? For some, separating search marketers and content marketers, for example, seems a fairly logical move – with the former falling under the “technical” umbrella and the latter “creative”. However, your SEO endeavours are really only as good as the experience you’re creating for your target audience, so it doesn’t make sense for different departments to detach themselves from one another.
It’s a fairly age old issue. Design, developers and SEO are all positioned on other sides of the office with nominal collaboration until one department fulfils a section of work. The creative juices flow, aesthetically the web design looks incredible and the developers work hard to put the vision into action … But behind the façade lies a potential disaster zone for the SEO department busy fretting about site architecture, the ability for search engines to crawl content and how the user experience and search engine experience overlap.
The same applies to content strategy. When a creative and engaging piece of content has been laced with search query and competitor driven data, insights into previously successful campaigns and niche market segmentation you can rest assured your content strategy should fly.
Search Engine Land says brands should envisage a flow diagram when it comes to planning their content strategy: Create – Distribute – Maximise. This will make sure that creative and technical teams begin to work in tandem, in pursuit of the goal of “more engagement”.
Get on the mobile SEO train pronto
Not that you need any more proof that we now live in a very mobile-centric world, but new research from the GlobalWebIndex suggests that 80% of all online adults now own a smartphone.
Mobile search is a new ball park to play with and innovate in, and watching how search engines adapt their mobile and desktop search, will keep you thinking about what’s coming next on either. Authorship, author images and video content in example have been slashed or reduced massively on desktop search views – it’s that slimmed down view you see on your smartphone! It looks to me as though they want the user experience to be intuitive and aligned on both says our team.
With more people getting online whilst on the move, then, speed is very much of the essence. It’s not just customers who want websites to be ultra-responsive, though – Google wants sites to render above-the-fold content in under one second, meaning slow sites could find their organic visibility being impacted negatively in mobile search.
Plus, you may have already received your own personal notification in Google webmaster tools, wagging the finger about the quality of your mobile offering – that in itself should be enough impetus!
However, don’t let speed come at the expense of functionality; research from BrightEdge last year found that mobile configuration errors resulted in a 68% loss in smartphone traffic on average.
Measurement is an absolute must
Measuring results – or quantifying your efforts – is more important than ever. But research suggests marketers are coming up short when it comes to gauging the success of their marketing strategy through data.
According to CMOSurvey.org, nearly half (44%) of survey respondents said they lacked the metrics to demonstrate the impact of marketing in 2014.These findings are supported by an Adobe survey in 2014 that showed 49% of marketers used intuition, not data, when considering where next year’s marketing endeavours will be concentrated.
But finding the right metrics to report on is also a bespoke affair. Measuring engagement, user signals and the noise around your campaign are just the start. It’s really important to understand which KPI’s are going to truly show you an ROI for your efforts.
Marketers therefore should spend time identifying technology that can pull multiple data sources into one platform to provide helpful insights into performance. At the very least, its time to get super friendly with v lookups and pivot tables so as you can create your own reporting dashboard! Being able to report to your client, line manager, the board or other departments with tailored result driven data will affirm your intuition and keep the powers that be happy.
But how do you see SEO progressing in 2015? With mobile SEO set to play a more prominent role, how can firms ensure their website is both quick and error-free?Ben Hollom
February 3, 2015