In my seven years of owning a web design and development company I had to learn to accept that business owners sought me out for two purposes:
- Build them a world class website
- Optimize their websites for Google
It was ultimately #2 that drove me absolutely batty. I didn’t own a search engine optimization (SEO) company and honestly I didn’t want to take the time to learn it all for the sake of helping others.
I was good at it for myself but I realized how much work and energy went into doing it as well as learning all of the changes that kept coming at a break neck speed.
Still, and even to this day at Unveil, I get messages on Facebook or emails. Here is a sample of a real one:
If you are contemplating emailing or messaging and asking for help with SEO because you’ve learned through articles on the web, videos or podcasts that this is how Google works; this is why I don’t do it. It’s a lot of work trying to convince people that Google has changed and for everyone one time I explain it there are twenty people in the industry saying something different and many times it’s misleading.
I get it; you want Google to work for you. Who doesn’t?
But Google and every other search engine (that includes Yahoo!, Bing, Facebook, Yelp and every individual specific site you can think of for a product or service (think Amazon.com or Autotrader.com) doesn’t work on that premise any longer.
They have changed.
Google shows search results based on what’s best for the user. They don’t base it on what’s best for you as the business owner.
That means we cannot just create websites and put keywords and phrases in them and we just rank for whatever terms we want.
How Has the SEO Game Changed?
Search engine optimization is changing at an alarming rate. Gone are the days of just researching keywords, writing those keywords into your content and then somehow (however you your SEO company likes to do it) earn back links that validate the credibility of your site to help it rank high for the search terms you are after.
Let’s say it’s time for you to go shopping for a tv. Many people will head straight to Google and start doing some research.
Notice what you will discover… They are all reviews or articles, not product pages.
Google knows and understands that I want to shop, compare and learn which product is the best for my needs.
What is Happening to SEO?
On and on it goes because Google is now an artificial intelligent system that can learn to understand a searcher’s needs and what they are looking for without allowing businesses to spam or misguide them like they were once able to do.
Google now is a position to do what Facebook has been doing and that is more heavily monitize their search engine.
While Google’s main source of revenue has been advertising via pay-per-click, that model is collapsing.
In a previous article last year titled “Transformational Changes in Online Engagement: Part 1” I said the following:
“For ten years Google’s growth was unrivaled in business history. No one had ever seen that kind of growth or profit margins so quickly.
But in 2009 a trend started to develop. Google index search had peaked.
From 2010 – 2012 studies began coming out showing that search had started to decline.
Tech Investor and innovator Roger McNamee came out with a Ted Talk and shared a graph that showed that in 2008 Google Index accounted for 90% of all searches done on the internet. But, by 2011 it was down to 50%. Some estimates today suggest it’s now down to a staggering 30%.
That’s still a LOT of traffic, but it’s nowhere near what it was at their peak.
The rules are changing for Google, and every other tech company as well, thanks not only to changes in technology but also to thanks to the way consumers are consuming technology and content.
Google is adapting and I believe that means you may have to pay if you want your company’s website or product pages to show up in the near future on a search query.
More Search Competition
One of the things eating at Google’s search share is the increase in competition. You may not realize it but sites are creeping up all the time that competes with them.
- If you’re looking for a car you may go to Autotrader.com
- If you want to learn more about social media you might visit socialmediaexaminer.com
- If you want to buy a specific product or a book you may go to Amazon.com
- If it’s music you may go to Apple Music or Spotify
- You can find any topic or news on Facebook
- Yelp has millions of reviews on businesses
- eBay has millions of specific items to search for you may want to buy
Here is the point; Google is just one of many options now. While Google is the dominant player it’s not the only one anymore.
What Can You Do About It?
In my article in SEMrush last January (it’s content that will apply forever) titled “DO YOU WANT TRAFFIC FROM GOOGLE? THEN BUILD A COMMUNITY!” I shared a few basic tips to build and optimize your web presence instead of just optimizing your website for Google.
Here is the basic premise:
#1 – Write incredibly helpful content that solves a problem, meets a need or fulfills a desire.
In a fantastic infographic by social4retail.com, they state:
- 90% of consumers find customer content useful
- 60% of consumers feel a company’s positivity after reading the site
- 70% of consumers learn about a company through articles rather than ads
- 81% of U.S. consumers trust advice and information from blogs
- Small businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads over those who don’t blog
The best thing you can do for your business is to learn what business you are “really” in from the consumer’s point of view and begin to message in a way that attracts them to your content.
We’ve already established that search engines and Google in particular are more interested in giving their audience information via articles and the above points illustrate that your prospects are more interested in buying from those who can educate them versus advertise to them.
Content marketing via articles, video, podcasting, email and social media are extremely powerful when done in the right context.
I wrote my eBook to explain how marketing has transitioned from a mass marketing context of talking to everyone at an expensive price to talking to those who are able, willing and ready to buy from you.
#2 – Network and build organic relationships with those who serve the same audience you do but in a different way. Include them in your articles, link to them where it’s relevant and makes sense to do so and give them a reason to build that bridge back to you.
The point is if you are creating such valuable content and participating with others through their content and getting to know them through blog commenting and social engagement you will begin to do the very things Google loves and will eventually reward.
Be sure to check out that article I wrote on SEMrush.com for more ideas and tips.
Is SEO Dead?
Absolutely not, it’s not dead and it’s not going to die. But, it is evolving and changing and giving you less options and abilities to manipulate it. As long as people are using a search engine, they will be around.
Long gone are the days of just writing for keywords, phrases and getting links and what follows is a tremendous amount of traffic.
The truth is no one shares, engages, or links to product and service pages.
It’s all about value!
Want a simple definition of value:
Solve one problem, for one person, with one solution in one article
That’s the heart of it!
But it’s going to take you learning your business in such a way that you know what your prospects and customers think and feel and then talk to those thoughts and feelings.
As you do that, don’t optimize for Google, optimize for the web.
Remember, the following are all search engines:
- Thousands of others…
As I shared about and Roger McNamee pointed out, people are less and less searching on Google for what they are looking for and instead finding what they want in specific applications.
I just recently read of a business that was moving to new location that purchased all of their office equipment and furniture through Etsy.
People are using different websites for all kinds of different purposes now.
This is my point; you cannot just rank your company website or product for whatever you want anymore.
Nearly 95% of all search traffic to my website starts with my blog and from there they begin visiting other pages on my website.
The least visited page on my site is my home page.
Is that a shocker to you?
Well, if you came directly to this page through a link on Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or by any other means then it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Content is the way it works now and Mr. and Mrs. business owner / entrepreneur you must realize that times have changed. You don’t just need a website. It’s more complicated than that now.
- Learn what business you’re “really” in from the consumer’s point of view.
- Offer specific solutions.
- To a specific person.
- With a specific problem
The internet is getting more savvy and intelligent and we have to as well. We must learn how to use all of the tools to our advantage.
But creating strategies to do that is not going to be advantageous if you don’t have a message that is relevant, consistent or compelling.
Your new site visitor will not have a reason to stay on your site, consume your content, learn more about your product or service or buy from you.
Remember, it’s your job to give them a reason to buy.
It’s time to re-think your search strategies and how you message your business in order to attract those who are able, willing and ready to buy from you.
If you want to learn how to really leverage the web for your business, please check out the “Begin Here” page and learn how all of this works together for your business.
You don’t have to waste your time and money on gimmicks, tricks and training’s that don’t help your business.
Do you have an opinion, thought or question about this article or video, please leave it below in the comments and let’s engage.