The internet marketing landscape has already changed considerably in the relatively short space of time that the web has existed. As technology has progressed, effective search engine optimisation has shifted. It’s no longer about keywords and link exchanges. It’s become more about leveraging interaction through the web community and (this was always the case to some extent and sounds obvious) providing users with useful content.
In a recent article by well known blogger Robert Scoble, the question was posed: will SEO be important in 2010? (and in the future generally). There were a couple of key points that made Robert question this.
Local companies can get better results by looking at the ‘whole picture’, rather than just search engine optimisation. Indeed, companies offering local services may find they’re better off concentrating on offline marketing and online will ‘take care of itself’ better, with more importance attributed to local directory results and geographical location than ever before. The importance of SEO relative to other aspects of the marketing mix certainly depends on your target audience and whether you’re trying to reach a larger or smaller spread.
Real time search is becoming more prevalent, particularly for topical ‘news’ related searches. It’s certainly true that a search for a term deemed to be topical will be more weighted in favour of results drawing from data accessed via direct agreements between search engines and social media & authority news websites.
There’s no question that the ingredients of internet marketing are changing. The key to the question: will SEO be important in the next year or so really depends on how you define SEO. It seems to me that as new elements have been added to the mix, the definition of SEO is changing. Search engine use is still rising, rather than falling and having potential customers find your website in the first page of their favourite search engine results is therefore more than ever before a useful thing. It’s just what needs to be done to get it there is changing.
Important elements in the 2010 definition of SEO
Social media has become an important factor in the equation. At a basic level, it is acting as a means of spreading the word about websites and services. With the advent of ‘real time’ results from social media websites (Twitter, Facebook and MySpace) being incorporated into the SERPS (by Google, Bing and Yahoo), there’s ever more reason to be having ‘coverage’ in these mediums.
The real value of social media is more than just having a presence though. 2010 will see businesses start to involve social media in a more calculated way in business.
The past couple of years, many businesses have attempted to jump onto the social media bandwagon by creating a page for a promotion and seeing what happens. It’s natural to experiment with a new tool. Now social media is maturing however, it is better to define a strategy, then choose the tools and put a longer term plan in place.
Put users first
These are not new strategies, but writing quality content on your own website and writing quality articles for other websites that are an authority in your area of business are going to remain very important over the next year. Search engines are getting harder to fool and ethical provision of content, rather than trying to second guess search engine algorithms is key. Don’t get too hung up on trying to predict how search engines will react to the keyword density of your articles – the white hat SEO, you’ll always do well if you provide relevant content that is useful to users and then do your best to spread the word through all channels available to you.
Strategise and specialise
Look at the whole picture, concentrating on areas specific to you and increase your chances any way you can. Create a strategy tailored to your businesses needs. Whilst the technical architecture of a website still plays a part in SEO, with the number of CMS’s and blogging platforms that are geared up to providing well formed code out of the box, there’s much less emphasis on web developers to perform SEO and more on content writers and digital marketers well acquainted with digital, social media. It will pay to have specialists in these areas of expertise working for you.