There are only a few ways you can kill a vampire, but many assume they’ve found the wooden stake in the heart of SEO. Supposedly more sophisticated search algorithms and the threat of new digital devices will soon do away with the need for search engine optimization.
In this episode of the popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Perficient Digital’s Eric Enge explains why SEO is far from dead, but also how it will change.
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Mark: Eric, I think we both agree that SEO is far from dead, and it’s not going anywhere soon, but it will be changing. There are a number of things that you’ve talked about often that will bring about that change. One of those is machine learning. Tell us a little bit about how that’s going to affect search and SEO in the years to come.
Will machine learning kill SEO?
Eric: Machine learning is one of those things that people like to assume is going to kill SEO as we know it. What most people don’t realize is what’s actually going to happen is that search engines, like Google and Bing, will use machine learning to try to accomplish the things that they’re already trying to accomplish anyway like identify great content, identify content that users like the most, identify the most authoritative content and better understand user intent and queries.
At the end of the day, what we have to do from an SEO perspective, at least in the near term, and by near term I mean the next three, four years, won’t change very much.
Mark: So just build great content, optimize, think about the user. Those sort of things that we should always be doing, right?
Will mobile-first kill SEO?
Mark: What about mobile? I mean, that’s changing everything. Some call it “The mobile revolution.” Google just talking mobile, mobile, mobile. How is that going to change the SEO landscape?
Eric: It’s a big change when everything moves and has moved dramatically in the direction of smartphone-type devices and things like that. For most websites, we see more than half the traffic actually comes initially to smartphone devices. So users are using smartphone devices and in some industries, it gets as high as 70%.
The reality is even though most of your visitors come from a smartphone device, more of your page views and more of your time on site and more of your conversions still come from desktop. But either way, the rules for optimization from an SEO perspective don’t change that dramatically, except in one key way, which is user behavior is a little bit different. And so you have to really optimize your site experience around that.
Will Digital Personal Assistants kill SEO?
Mark: Okay, one more. This one seems like, to a lot of us, to be the big disrupter that very few people are talking about. I know you’ve talked a lot about it, and done some studies on this already: digital personal assistants. Those devices that we can talk to and interact with, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo. We can do searches on those but it’s a different experience from a laptop or even a smartphone, right?
Eric: It is. And of the three, this is clearly the biggest change and something that has the potential to be hugely disruptive. So much so that I’ve come to start expressing to people my thought that it’s a big enough change, it could literally be the thing that unseats Google because the user interface is so dramatically different and it’s going to be a very different experience for users.
No search box, no browser. You might have a companion screen or device in order to see more results. But fundamentally, when you ask a voice query of a device like your watch or your thermostat or your TV or your car, you get one voice response back.
The best analog for that today is featured snippets. So actually, if you can learn how to optimize for featured snippets, then that works really well for the digital personal assistant’s world. So that will be a big change, but from my perspective, that will still be a form of SEO. It just will have perhaps some different aspects to it than what we’re doing today.
Mark: So if you’re wondering, “How am I gonna keep up with all this? How am I going to be ready for these revolutions that are coming to search?” we’ve got a great answer for you. Coming up this spring on May 9th, Next10x, our second annual digital marketing conference, will be entirely focused on the future of digital marketing. What it’s affecting today, what it will affect tomorrow, how to be ready for it.
We invite you to find out more about it and hear speakers such as Eric, Rand Fishkin, Ann Handley, we’ve got me, Larry Kim and many others, share their perspectives on how you can be ready now and tomorrow for the future of digital marketing.
Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published.
Eric Enge leads the Digital Marketing practice for Perficient Digital. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO. Learn More About Eric Enge