I have been involved in marketing for a long time and things do change frequently in the marketing world. If you are reading this 2 or 3 years from the time I wrote it, you might think I’m crazy. In marketing the one thing that changes the most often is SEO. Google changes the rules constantly, and the other search engines try to keep up. You think you have your strategy all heading in the right direction, but then change happens, so you can’t just set it and forget it. You have to look ahead to the next change coming. Google changes its search formula on average 550 times per year. Most of these changes are minor, but some will change things in a significant way as to how your site shows up in the page rankings. They want to provide their customers (the people asking Google questions) with the best experiences, so their systems are growing and getting smarter all the time, hence these constant changes.
With that being said, as an overall marketing person or business owner, I always suggest having your own SEO Guru available to keep your site in Google’s good graces. Most of us don’t have time to manage 500 to 600 changes a year and still be effective. We need to understand the overarching strategies, make the changes we can make as we do other marketing activities, but having someone who lives and breaths SEO is a must. The gentleman I turn to is Will Hanke from www.redcanoemedia.com. I recently had an opportunity to sit down for a short video interview with him on my weekly Small Business Saturday’s session on my Facebook Page. After that discussion, it seems to me that there are 2 major areas we need to understand that are driving change in SEO strategies. Let’s dig in and I’ll provide quotes from Will with more details.
- Mobile – Our phones are becoming part of normal everyday lives, not just a tool we sometimes use. Everywhere you look, you will find someone with a phone in their hands or pretty nearby. They have become our watches, alarm clocks, cameras as well as our entertainment, source of news and most importantly our quick source of information. Need directions? We use our phones to guide us. Need to buy something? We research it on our phones. Need to know what the average rainfall in Aruba is? We ask Google (or in only 10% of cases people ask another search provider, link Bing). So according to Will, in approximately April of 2016, Google released a change that drastically penalized your ranking if your site was not mobile friendly. And since that time our reliance as a society on mobile search has continued to grow. According to Will “Google saw how many people were starting to use mobile devices for search at the time in 2016 around 30% versus desktop searches. That number recently was, 56% of all traffic is from mobile”. My jaw dropped hearing that, as I knew it was growing, but think about that… Over half the traffic that Google gets (and it is a lot) is now from our phones or tablets. Gone are the days of developing your website for a great desktop experience and just having bare bones stripped down version for mobile. Your strategy should be to focus on making the best mobile website you can and then adapting that out from there to also be a good desktop experience. Will Hanke from www.redcanoemedia.com goes on to say “within the last couple months Google has kind of split into two “Googles” which a lot of people don’t know. There is now a desktop index if you’re searching for a specific thing on a desktop or a hardwired system somewhere and then there’s a separate ranking index for mobile searches. You could actually rank on page one on a desktop for some term and not show up at all in the mobile version. That is a pretty big shift in the overall way that Google is indexing websites.” Go make sure your website is mobile friendly NOW!
- Voice Search – The other bit of technology that is creeping its way into our lives is the voice search technology. Think about all the commercials you have seen for Siri, Google Home, Cortana and Alexa. How often do you ask one of these virtual assistants to help you find something? And this changes the game completely, as typically these services will list the first or first few options that come up. If you are outside of the top 3, forget about ever being found. Then voice search also changes the way we actually search for things online. Think about it… If you were trying to find someone to make you award plaques and you were searching on a desktop computer or a mobile phone typing in your search, it might look something like “award plaques 63376 design services”. But the search would look like this if I’m speaking it to my digital assistant “Please find an awards plaque retailer in St Peters, Missouri that can help me with the design.” (2 Images of the results included) As you can see the results are different, though my intent was to find the same thing. So you need to start looking at your strategy to include the content that people are going to be speaking too, not just typing. When posed with this question, my expert and friend Will Hanke said “Google is smart enough to understand the intent that it’s something that they want right away they want it within a geographic area so so they’re using their map system to provide those results. It is very important that when you’re optimizing your site, you focus on your “contact us” page and your “services” page that you start to consider mentioning a couple towns that you’re in.” Think about adding information about nearby landmarks that people might reference, and just details of how you would describe finding your company if you were having a face to face conversation with people.
Will goes on to add “Make sure that your Google My Business (formerly Google Local and prior to that Google Maps) account is optimized as much as possible. Make sure your claim your listing, and optimize by making sure you’ve added the right categories that your business is in and those sort of things.”
So the challenge of keeping up with SEO is real, but with the right partners and right strategies, you can overcome the ever-changing landscape. Add some common sense type things, like making your site a good place to come to no matter what device your potential customers are on and you will be able to welcome new people to your business. Think about the user, how they are finding you and Google and the other search engines will reward you.