In 2015 SEO was both claimed to be a dead art and heralded as the most important online marketing tool. It's true that developments in search engine technology and the ever changing topography of SERP real estate has left many online marketers confused.
The question that many business owners and marketing managers have to ask themselves is if SEO is still relevant in 2016 and how do they find out if it's relevant for them?
What's So Confusing About SEO?
Even after all the confusion in deciding SEO's role as a 'serious' marketing tool, one fact still remains - We're using search engines everyday (multiple times a day) and as long as there is organic search there will be a need for SEO.
That's at least what I believe in. Some people may not share my enthusiasm for organic search and to be honest I understand why. Search Engine Optimisation along the way has become a synonym for Google Optimisation. I'm here to tell you that SEO is so much more than that. It's a marketing tool, that when applied with the right mindset will complement almost every aspect of your online marketing.
What's The Cause of All This Confusion?
I know that there are still many business owners, marketing managers and even some paid online marketers who try to evaluate SEO in terms of its ability to specifically target keywords. Don't get me wrong keywords are still the currency of SEO but their value is not the same.
When you consider the explosive growth in our collective online ecosystem of millions of websites, apps, stores, blogs and online services keywords quickly start looking like a very redundant method for evaluating the content available online.
Much like a library, search engine use keywords to organise the content available on the web but don't exclusively rely on them for evaluating the quality of that content,
You wouldn't like or dislike a book simply based on its word count or diversity of vocabulary used in it, would you?
Confusion starts when you start expecting keywords alone to work the same way in organic search ranking as they do in paid advertising.
That's like picking your favourite book based on how expensive it is. That's just wrong.
While keywords are still the language search engines speak, real marketing tactics is how they determine the value of a link.
How Can You Use SEO In 2016?
It's not just optimising for organic search result rankings that's for sure. Have you looked at the skill requirements for an SEO professional lately?
Both agencies and businesses are desperately searching for people with skills not just in web development but professionals with experience in web analytics, social media marketing, inbound marketing, data analysis, online traffic acquisition tactics among other hard and soft skills.
What does that tell you?
Success in SEO isn't limited to ranking high in organic search results by applying technical wizardry. Business and agencies who want to create efficient online marketing want to utilise organic search, search related data and understand how to adapt to the online search journey which takes place on multiple devices today.
So when you are looking for an SEO professional or creating an your own SEO plan use this definition as a guideline.
"Search Engine Optimisation is integrating different elements of online marketing to create a uniquely recognisable, relevant and fulfilling online experience for people."
In addition to it keep in mind that;
- Organic Search Experience
- Social Media Marketing
- Local Marketing
- Conversion Rate Optimisation
- Content Development
- Quality Web Development
Successful search engine optimisation is a side effect effect of having integration between the different elements of online marketing.
Search Engine Optimisation at its core is developing authoritative position, improving brand awareness and most importantly creating value for people in your niche. Everything from social media to content are tools that SEO brings together to create a uniquely recognisable online experience.
How to Find Out If You Need SEO in 2016?
To begin with I should address the most common concern that people have which unfortunately keeps them from using SEO.
"Search engine optimisation is unpredictable."
That's true. SEO is not as predictable as paid search engine or social media marketing. Even though paid and organic search engine marketing complement each other, they are not the same thing; meaning that before investing in either paid or organic (SEO) you should set clear and distinct goals.
I am a professional SEO and a part of my job is to advise my clients on why, how and when they need to focus on Search Engine Optimisation. Even though I firmly believe that that are hardly any commercial website that doesn't need to focus on SEO, I still have a system that I use for making practical recommendations.
- Is your website offering relevant, helpful and timely content?
- If so is the information on your own products, physical locations and other services accurate and created keeping your audience in mind?
- What about any related information that your audience might be looking for?
- Do you know what their extended needs are and have you evaluated the pros and cons of providing that information?
- Are you satisfied with the performance of your website?
- Is it optimised for mobile browsing and does it offer customised mobile experience?
- Are you using web analytics to gathered insights on user behaviour on your site?
- Do you know how long it takes your website to load?
- Do you have insights on how that might impact your traffic acquisition strategy.
- How do professionals in your industry and related verticals feel about your brand?
- Do they look towards your brand as an industry leader and acknowledge your content as authoritative by sharing it and linking back to it?
- Do you know who is linking back to your content and how that might impact your domain authority?
4. User Experience:
- Does your site effectively reflect your brand values?
- Is it easy for a new visitor to find information on your site?
- Are you using web analytics to monitor key usability metrics?
- Do you know if some critical pages on your site have high Bounce Rate?
- Have you set up appropriate micro conversions on your site?
These questions will help you determine if you need SEO objectively and also help you in setting goals for measuring success in SEO in 2016.
Success is SEO relies more on having the right mindset than just brute force.
Instead of just creating a website you have to think what your business goals are and more importantly who your customers are. In practice that means coming to the realisation that everyone isn't your customer and your websites isn't built to sell everything.
Widely talked about SEO best practices will only put you in a better position to rank. Beyond that it's really up to you to become smart in how you'll use the tools and tactics to deliver a uniquely recognisable, relevant and fulfilling online experience.
May be it would be better to find a new name for SEO that's more descriptive of what the practice truly stands for today but until that happens it would be a shame to let this valuable marketing tactic get to waste.
Now that you know how to take advantage of SEO in 2016, don't hold yourself back from utilising it. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org