Five years ago, Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, was virtually synonymous with digital marketing. Every company and their uncle were obsessed with hitting the sweet spot of the top 10 Google search results for important keywords. Why? Because Google searches, conducted on desktop computers, were the means by which purchase decisions were made by both B2B and B2C consumers. Websites were set up accordingly, to be as easy to index by Google search bots as possible.
The accelerated development of smartphones, increased mobile searches and the diversification of social media have complicated the picture, to the extent that SEO is now seen as a subset of digital marketing, not an alternative term for it. Even the way people conduct searches has changed fundamentally.
These are the biggest changes in search behaviour over the past five years, and why your website needs to adapt to them:
The big change of the last few years is, of course, the rise in mobile searches; facilitated by faster, cheaper, more powerful smartphones. In all developed countries, well over 50% of searches are now conducted on smartphones – phones that is, rather than tablets. Don’t assume that the additional mobile traffic is from office bound searchers using their iPads. These searches are from phone users on the move. Not only does your web design need to respond to this need, but also how you position your products and services. Learn more about mobile search with this article - Essential Mobile Marketing Trends To Be Aware Of
Location Based Searches
Mobile searches have fuelled an explosion in location based searches, often from searchers who are presently in the area. ‘How do I find a chemical engineering company near Sheffield’ is a realistic search by a business user on route to the area, or considering expanding. Your website should be optimised for use with Google maps so that prospects and customers can find you easily. Content should also emphasise how your services are relevant to customers within specific geographical areas.
Keywords & Search Terms
‘Keywords’ may no longer be an accurate description of how people conduct searches on Google. Businesses are used to optimising their webpages for simple search terms such as ‘creative agency Glasgow’, or ‘PC repair cheap’. These days however, searchers expect more from their search results. Longer search terms are now common, e.g. ‘how do I design an e-commerce website?’
Not only do searchers ask more complex questions, but also note the qualitative shift. As search AI is become more intuitive, searches have moved away from simple ‘what’ and ‘who’ questions towards ‘how’ and ‘why’. To retain your search lead, your website has to try harder to provide more detailed, meaningful answers. Discover more information about modern search terms with this great article - What Is A Long Tail Keyword & Why Should I Care?
Social Media Searches
Increasingly, people use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to research businesses first, rather than Google. This is because the amount of time people spend on social media at work has increased, and also because the smartphone social media apps often work a lot better than the Google search app! The upshot of this is that as much care and attention should be spent on social media company pages as your business website, and the two platforms should be closely interrelated.
For businesses that use mobile apps, App Store optimisation becomes as important as Google SEO. The same principles apply, but a different set of algorithms need to be considered and new strategies adopted.
Following Your Market
Much as Google may hate to admit it, they no longer own an absolute monopoly on Internet searches. Other search mechanisms are now growing in importance, including social media search, the iTunes App Store and other channels.
To reap the benefits of high search visibility you need to keep your business at the forefront of the most relevant channels. By this we mean the most profitable channels where you are best placed to gain the optimum share of your market. This may or may not be the classic Google search engine. It may be best for you to spread your resources and focus on other marketing and sales tactics. We can advise you on the best course of action based on your market niche and the customers you are trying to attract. To find out more, get in touch today for an informal chat and discuss a bespoke growth plan.