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1. From SEO to ‘SEO and content convergence’

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1. From SEO to ‘SEO and content convergence’

Google has thrown a lot at marketers in just the last five
years. All of these big changes — from rolling out

major algorithm updates
 to shifting to
mobile-first
 — have essentially had the same goal: to
provide the best possible search experience to users. Google
wants to show users the best content at the right time on the
right device as quickly as possible.

Some marketers have struggled to keep up with and adapt to
these huge changes. Meanwhile, other brands are thriving. Why?
Because they have learned to stay ahead of Google’s
ever-evolving algorithms by focusing on content and quality.

Smart marketers know that they must have similar goals to
Google. That means providing content that resonates, engages
and converts — wherever, whenever and however consumers
discover it.

It’s important to not just look at where Google is today, but
where Google is heading over the next six months, next year and
beyond. If you can stay ahead of these momentous shifts, you
can stay ahead of Google and your competition to dominate
online in your industry.

The future in search is now. It’s time to start thinking
forward — and fast! Below are five SEO shifts
that you need to master as we head into the latter part of this
year.

1. From SEO to ‘SEO and content convergence’

Just as content alone isn’t enough to guarantee SEO success,
SEO alone isn’t enough to guarantee that people will find and
engage with your content. Data is helping marketers understand
consumer intent to create
intelligent content
that aligns with the customer journey
to deliver a successful and memorable experience.

How marketers can master this shift:

  • Ensure your content creation is based on
    data.
    Content marketing without data lacks
    purpose. Define the audience, engagement and conversion
    metrics that matter to your brand. Track and measure these to
    gain the insights you need to create meaningful content that
    people want to consume and improve future content marketing
    efforts.
  • Foster search, social and content
    synergy.
     In combination, organic search, social
    and content help brands achieve their goals and objectives.
    Creating high-quality content with SEO in mind from the
    beginning boosts search visibility. That great content can
    then be further amplified via social media, which creates
    demand you can later harvest via search.
  • Maximize your search engine results page (SERP)
    footprint.
     Create and optimize high-ROI content
    like articles, videos and infographics to help people (by
    answering important or popular questions or providing
    practical information) or capitalize on trendy topics. Then
    help your brand further stand out in the SERPs by winning
    real estate with featured snippets, site links, related
    questions, images, videos and tweets.

2. From mobile to mobile-first

For years, Google told marketers about the coming shift to
mobile first — and it finally arrived in 2015, when

mobile searches surpassed desktop
. Today, optimizing for
mobile search, devices and usability is no longer optional.
It’s mandatory. Your brand must be mobile-ready if you want to
capitalize on
mobile micro-moments
.

How marketers can master this shift:

  • Recognize that this is a mobile-first
    world.
     Brands that aren’t mobile-optimized see
    68 percent less traffic, according to
    BrightEdge research
    (my company). This means that
    understanding mobile user behavior and intent is essential
    today. Make sure your mobile experience meets (but ideally
    exceeds) expectations, or you risk losing market share and
    revenue to the competition.
  • Make your mobile SEO fast and
    furious.
     In addition to being attractive and
    easy to navigate, mobile websites must be fast. According to

    Google research
    , 53 percent of mobile users leave sites
    that take more than three seconds to load. Following
    technical mobile SEO best practices (e.g., image
    optimization, redirects, JavaScript and CSS) is a necessary
    barrier to entry in today’s digital world.
  • Consider contextual mobile
    content.
     Focus on creating content that mobile
    users want and will find valuable. Typically, mobile users
    are in research mode — they are searching for
    information they need or they need some inspiration. Make
    sure your brand is there and influences that decision when
    they’re ready to convert, which is more likely to be on
    desktop or in store than on a smartphone.

3. From local to hyperlocal

The hyperlocal opportunity has never been greater for
marketers. Hyperlocal targeting lets you reach people based on
their location. This is an excellent way for brands to
capitalize on “near me” searches and “I-want-to-go”
micro-moments and become hyperrelevant and hypervaluable.

How marketers can master this shift:

  • Own local search. Make sure critical
    contact information that people search for is prominent or
    easy to find. This includes name, address, phone, hours and
    directions.
  • Hyperlocal optimization =
    hyperimportant.
     Google’s personalized
    hyperlocal results
    give more visibility to smaller
    geographic locations. Optimize your Google My Business page,
    create localized content and landing pages, use local
    business Schema markup and monitor the performance of your
    local keyword rankings.
  • Understand the intersection of local and
    mobile.
     People who do local searches on
    smartphones have higher intent: 50 percent of smartphone
    users will visit a business or store within a day,
    according to Google
    . Optimizing for local also means
    optimizing for users who are on the go. These people have
    different needs and expectations than those doing local
    searches on other devices.

4. From text to voice

About
20 to 25 percent of mobile queries are voice searches
,
depending on who you believe at Google. Although it’s clearly
far too soon to declare the death of text searches, voice
search is an emerging area marketers need to pay attention to
heading forward. Voice search will continue to rise as consumer
adoption of virtual assistants (e.g., Siri, Alexa) increases.

How marketers can master this shift:

  • More voice searches, more
    answers.
     Voice search will bring different
    types of search results because the majority of voice
    searches are questions (who, what, where, when, why, how).
    Fortunately for marketers, these questions also reveal user
    intent. Identify high-intent keywords, and optimize content
    that answers these questions to ensure your brand will be
    found in the changing SERPs.
  • Urge to voice search rising. People are
    adopting voice search because it is now more accurate and
    useful than ever — it is faster and easier than typing on a
    smartphone keyboard. By 2020,
    50 percent of all searches will be voice searches
    ,
    according to a forecast from comScore. Identify and provide
    content in a format that meets the needs of these types of
    searchers.
  • Get smart about intelligent
    agents.
     Many voice searches happen at home, in
    addition to in the car or on the go, resulting in a more
    connected world. These intelligent agents are using
    semantics, search history and user interests and behaviors to
    provide the best results. So, make sure content is aligned
    with the intent and interests of customers at the right
    moment of the decision journey. Be the best answer. Forrester
    analyst Collin Colburn shares some great insights on this
    topic in this
    Forrester blog
    .

5. From data to machine learning

Google relies in part on machine learning, in the form of

RankBrain
, to make sense of the massive amounts of data and
deliver the best possible search results for users. As
marketers, we, too, must turn to machine learning to understand
the intent, interests and behavior of our audience so we can
deliver and personalize content that they want.

How marketers can master this shift:

  • View data as a source of truth. Martech
    stacks are being built around data
    integrations and performance
     because we simply have
    too much data and not enough analysts or hours in the day to
    make sense of it all. To capitalize on demand, spot patterns
    and stay ahead of the competition, marketers need to go
    beyond the “what” of data to understand the “when” and “why”
    of analytics.
  • Utilize AI & machine
    learning.
     Machine learning helps marketers
    spend less time analyzing data and more time creating content
    that will engage and influence prospects and customers. Let
    AI and
    machine learning
    deliver actionable insights about your
    audience and content performance.
  • Define metrics and measurement. Data
    allows marketers to make better and more accurate decisions
    more quickly. Define the metrics that matter to your brand,
    and monitor your search and content data. This will allow you
    to track your progress, iterate and improve your content
    production and organic search optimization for greater
    visibility and greater share of voice.

Conclusion

With
$80 billion
forecast to be spent annually on SEO — and
content marketing set to be a $300+ billion
industry
by 2019 — it might be tempting for stakeholders to
view SEO and content marketing as cost centers rather than
revenue centers. This would be a mistake. SEO and data are
essential for a successful integrated digital strategy with a
tangible ROI. By understanding the five points above and
always measuring your results, you will be able to demonstrate
that creating effective, engaging, intelligent content is the
path to revenue and truly worth the investment.


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a
guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff
authors are listed here.


2017-05-18T16:02:29+00:00 2017 May 18th|Categories: SEO blog|