If there is one industry that is constantly changing, it is SEO. Let’s begin our discussion on the future of SEO by examining the present.
SEO in the Present
For the sake of any beginners out there, let’s begin by defining SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In the past (and in some cases, the present), SEO is the process of sending signals to search engines for the purpose of improving search engine rankings for specific keywords that provide both traffic and are relevant to the business. One can categorize SEO in two ways: on-page and off-page. On-page SEO can mean many things, but for the sake of simplicity let us say that it is the process of optimizing Web content in such a way that makes it easier for search engines to understand what a business does, thereby making it easier for the search engines to rank us for desirable keywords. Off-page SEO also can mean many things, however the simplest explanation may be that it is the process of sending off-site indicators to Google that a website is worthy of being ranked for specific keywords.
Now let us discuss what SEO can do for a business. For many, the fruit of an SEO campaign is higher rankings in search engines (such as Google) for targeted keywords. As a result of these higher rankings (and under favorable conditions), companies can expect increased Web traffic and an abundance of high-quality Internet sales leads. But this isn’t just any kind of new Web traffic. It is targeted. These increases in traffic are caused by people that need what you provide, and demand such services in real-time. So not only can one expect to see increased levels of Web traffic, one can expect that this new traffic will be highly valuable as well. This makes SEO (arguably) the single most effective means of advertizing available today. Good marketing is measurable marketing, and SEO offers plenty of measurement opportunities. Those that have been the benefactors of a successful SEO campaign know this.
In summary, SEO campaigns work because they deliver the people that need a service to a business that offers that service in a real-time environment. SEO has worked amazingly well for years, that will be the case for the future of SEO.
But SEO is changing. The future of SEO is murky.
The Future Of SEO
As many of us are aware, Google dominates the search engine game. Many SEO’s believe Google is developing an increasingly aggressive stance against SEO companies that are in the business of helping clients increase search engine rankings for specific keywords. The question is why? Try to look at this from Google’s perspective. They (more than anybody) are fully aware that organic SEO (the process of ranking a website for specific keywords without using paid advertisement) is far more effective than the paid search ads that they offer. As you can imagine, this is not an ideal situation for them. From a profit maximization approach, it would be ideal for Google to minimize the impact of SEO’s, thereby forcing companies that wish to advertise on the Internet to purchase the pay-per-click campaigns that they sell. If you find yourself denying that this is possible, we have some swampland to sell you in Florida. Google is a corporation. Corporations exist to maximize profit. Change is coming folks.
What kind of change is in store for the future of SEO, you ask? There are several things Google could do. Given that we are only speculating, what if Google:
1) Decided to randomize local search results?
2) Removed all organic listings from local search queries, leaving only ads?
3) Began penalizing websites for infractions in an overly-aggressive manner, thus leaving websites open to competitor manipulation?
Let’s take the first possibility. What would happen if Google decided to randomize local search results? This is pure speculation. Obviously, any hard work spent to rank a website for a particular keyword would be lost. The website that spent no energy optimizing content would have an equal chance to rank at the top of the first page and pull the majority of the traffic.
What would happen if Google removed all organic (non-paid) listings from local search queries? This would leave only paid ads. For companies that know the importance of a strong Internet marketing presence, this would mean they would be forced into buying pay-per-click ads.
What if Google began penalizing websites in an overly aggressive manner, leaving websites open to competitor manipulation? Google has started de-indexing sites with poor link profiles (that is, the links pointing to their website are of poor quality). So let me ask you this – what is stopping a competitor from intentionally creating a poor collection of links at your website?
Would you like further evidence that Google is working towards cutting their competition (SEO firms) out? How about their decision to not provide keyword data to websites that aren’t using their AdWords pay-per-click services?
Adjusting To The Future Of SEO
So what does this mean? How can one best adjust to the future of SEO? For starters, if you rely on SEO to make a living (or at least partially so), it is time to make some changes if you haven’t already. Diversification is advised.
How can we diversify? Begin by looking at the bigger picture. If the goal is to use the Internet to market your business, you must understand that while SEO is an incredibly effective way to achieve this goal, it is not the only way.
One way to protect yourself (and your business) against the future of SEO is to broaden your strategy. Traffic from Google search engine brought on by a high ranking from Google is (of course) not the only way to use the Internet to market your business. In addition to an organic SEO campaign, here are the following ways you can increase Web traffic, generate online leads, and then close them.
1) On-page SEO
3) Social Media
4) Content Marketing
6) Email Marketing
7) Targeted website landing pages
All of the above are ways you can collect online leads. Once generated, managing these leads and follow-up is critically important. These aren’t just any leads – these are people that made the decision to interact with you. These aren’t people that you bothered with your unwanted marketing message. They chose you. So you must nurture these leads. Dedicated lead management software exists to achieve these goals.
The bottom line is this: an organic SEO campaign (if properly deployed) is an incredibly effective way to grow a business. It increases exposure, generates quality leads in real-time, and increases Web traffic. Most importantly, it generates leads that are relatively easy to close. With that said, it is important to know that changes are coming. The future of SEO may be hardly recognizable to us today. Changes are coming. Are you prepared? If not, it is time to start looking at other ways you can use the Internet to market and grow your business.