Reports of the death of Search Engine Optimization have been greatly exaggerated. When your business needs to grow, you don’t have time or money to waste, so you need to know where your dollars should be spent, and where they would best be spent elsewhere. For most businesses that owe any amount of their revenue to online traffic and exposure, SEO remains a good investment.
The key to SEO, its underlying purpose, is Optimization, which is also the key to building a great online presence to begin with. When it comes to Optimizing for the Search User Experience. Google, Bing, and other Search Engines have only one means of trying to ensure the satisfaction of their own users: site rankings. They have to rank your website along with millions of other websites they don’t own, but they get to choose how they do that. If your site gives the Search Users a satisfactory experience and solves the problem they were trying to solve, then the Search Engines will want to give your site the high ranking and exposure it deserves.
Optimizing for Search is, in a sense, Optimizing for the language of the Web itself. From your link profile, to the topical authority of your content, to the responsiveness of your design (does it look good on all displays?), to its readability, to the proper usage of you keywords (without abusing them), to your website performance, to how users actually behave when they arrive at your site, all of these things are being crawled, analyzed, and used to rank your site by Search Engines, but they’re also all a part of the Web User Experience in general.Optimizing for Search is Optimizing for the Language of the Web.Click To Tweet
In a sense, Google’s algorithms or Bing’s algorithms or Yahoo!’s algorithms present a fairly accurate picture of how their users want the web to work for them. When users are given junk information, sent to junk sources, to sites that look lousy on their devices, with text they have to squint to read (or spend time pinching and tapping to zoom in on), Pages that take forever to load, or other problems, it reflects badly on the referrer, i.e. the Search Engine.
It does this because, in such cases, there is a mismatch between the needs and expectations of the Searcher, with the information and experience actually provided by the Search Result they were given. A site that is well designed for modern Search Engines must be a site well designed for a good User Experience, and vice versa, in order to ensure a match between User Expectation and User Experience.
Search Engines have well over a billion users every month asking questions for which they want good answers. SEO is the art of giving the best and fastest answers to those questions. Because of this, Search Engines are one of the most important traffic types, consistently delivering some of the highest quality referral traffic to websites.SEO is the art of giving the best and fastest answers to those questions.Click To Tweet
The Searcher is asking a question because they want a good answer, and usually they want it immediately (if not sooner than that). They also expect the answer they’re given to be the right answer or, if there is no one right answer, then the best possible answer. They also want it to be presented to them in the pleasing form of a website or app that looks good, performs well, is well designed, and most importantly gives the best answers their questions.
When you answer someone’s questions or solve their problems immediately, they’re more likely to spend time on and your site or app. Successful businesses are also about answering questions, and Search traffic attracts the very types of users they need most: those who are looking right now for exactly the thing or thing you can give them.
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The best basic investment in online marketing for most businesses is a well designed website, which also means a site well designed for Web Search. Every other component of your online marketing efforts can be, and should be, built on the foundation of a site fully optimized for the Search User Experience, and for delivering a great User Experience in general. Doing the latter will mostly take care of the former, anyways (or vice versa).
SEO is both a science and an art, which at its finest should help inform all aspects of your design, marketing efforts, and outreach. It is the constantly evolving effort to find better and faster ways to answer our questions and solve our problems. With new ‘predictive’ Search products like Google Now and Siri’s Proactive in the wild, this could even mean answering a question someone hasn’t asked yet, or didn’t know they should ask until you’ve already answered it.
No matter which products are used for Search in the future; whether Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Yelp, or some other companies or products prevail (and even if social media disrupts it entirely); whether people still Search by text or by voice input, by direct thought input, or something else we haven’t invented yet; whether Search becomes a full blown monopoly or becomes a more competitive market; regardless whether we even call them Search Engines in the future:
Answering questions and solving problems will always be the most valuable service in this world.
Nothing else grabs the attention, breeds loyalty and trust, or opens wallets and creates opportunities for profit quite like giving someone the best answer at the time they need it most. That’s what Search Engine Optimization is really about, and why you need to make it the center of your online marketing efforts now and for the future.