In the world of marketing, there are plenty of trends for leaders to stay on top of. From PR trends that affect their branding on a larger scale to the content marketing and social media tools that affect their day-to-day communication, leaders have a lot on their plates.
I hate to be the guy who adds to your list, but if SEO isn’t also on your radar, you could be missing out on serious opportunities. Thankfully, Moz CEO Sarah Bird shared lots of valuable insights on the future of SEO at this year’s MozCon. My team rounded up a few of the biggest trends she highlighted and spoke with other experts in attendance to learn more about how SEO and content will affect brands’ marketing; here are six trends in SEO you need to know about:
1. Search is taking on new and different formats.Most marketers tend to think of search as it relates to audiences typing queries into search engines, but that’s changing. You can now speak directly to Alexa or Google Home and search using your own voice in your own words. Not only is this exciting for us as humans, but it ’ s also pushing the industry to learn more about its consumers and exactly what they want.
People are searching more than ever, probably because they have more ways to perform those searches. It’s your job as a leader and marketer to figure out how to influence search results on these different platforms and formats.That comes down to getting into your audience members’ heads, understanding who they are, and delivering what they want — only then can you start to unlock the analytical and creative processes of optimizing for search.
2. New formats mean new opportunities — but not all will translate into dollars for your brand right away.This increase in search — and ways to search — doesn ’ t necessarily mean you ’ re going to be able to capitalize on it commercially. Think of recipes, for example: People could be using Alexa to search certain recipes as they prepare dinner, but showing up as a result there probably won ’ t translate into dollars for your brand every time. Some formats and types of searches reveal purchase intent, and others don ’ t; this change in search trends just reinforces how important it is for marketers to understand those differences and create and optimize accordingly.
3. Paid search is SEO’s biggest competitor for marketing dollars.
Despite the fact that people tend to scroll straight to organic results on search engine results pages, the paid ads industry is still huge, making pay-per-click one of the biggest competitors for would-be SEO dollars. Sure, PPC can be a great way to test your organic strategy or boost your high-performing organic efforts, but building out your organic SEO efforts is a more effective long-term strategy. Eventually, we’ll see more and more dollars funneled into marketers’ organic search efforts, but a lack of patience is keeping this from happening sooner.
4. Marketers have to remember the long-term benefits of their search strategies.When marketers start making search a priority, it’s not uncommon to see them focus on short-term wins — early signs that things are going well — before they spend a lot of money on tactics that aren’t getting them much closer to their goals. The thing about search is that the biggest benefits typically aren’t visible right away.
Paying to play in the short term is fine to get started, but you have to build your long-term content marketing strategy to create a foundation for your brand and your audience over time. SEO is more of a brand-building and authority-boosting tool than a strict transaction. It doesn’t help that many times, marketers are incentivized to think in the short term, like through monthly or quarterly goals, instead of one to three years down the road. If you put in the time and budget to do it right, it should land you future sales calls, not just sales calls today. Marketers and content creators would do well to remember the big picture as they execute individual search tactics.
5. Content marketing is in a great spot for the future of search.
According to Matthew Edgar, co-owner of Elementive, one of the classic functions of SEO is shifting. In the past, marketers relied on search engines to drive traffic to their sites — but with Google now displaying content on SERPs instead of directing users away from the page and to new sites, this is starting to change.
Google wants to give users as much information and content as possible on SERPs directly instead of forcing them to navigate to and from different sites. This is a powerful reminder for marketers that content marketing must be truly valuable, educational, and engaging to readers, not simply designed to get people to a specific site.
And when people do land on your site — whether they’re coming from a Google search or elsewhere — you’ve got to make sure you’re delivering a meaningful experience with high-quality content. That’s how search engines will know your content is worth ranking or displaying in the first place.
6. The fundamentals behind search will guide marketers through these trends.
Heather Physioc, director of organic search at VML, noted that while the formats of the content we create and how we optimize that content will continue to evolve, the fundamentals will remain the same. Some of the biggest changes we’ve seen have come in how people perform searches, from searches on Ask Jeeves from a desktop computer to mobile and voice searches today. There are dozens of places to search for and consume content, but at the heart of it all is exceptional content.
I get it — keeping up with trends in SEO and actually executing a strategy that generates the kind of results you’re after is challenging. But it’s well worth the effort. It helps you build your brand, attract and engage your audience, and generate leads, sales, and opportunities. Start with these trends, and make SEO a priority for your team. If you don’t, I promise your competitors will.