Adapting To A Changing Search Landscape

It’s a clichéd argument that search engine optimization (SEO) is dying), but the truth is that SEO isn’t going anywhere anytime soon; it’s simply evolving. We don’t search the same way we did just a few years ago. Consumers have moved beyond entering one or two keywords into a search engine, to entering four to eight words at a time, often in the form of phrases or questions. This changes the search game. Consumers want more than one-word results, they want answers to their questions, so single keyword correlation isn’t enough.

The biggest catalyst for change is mobile search. When Siri hit the market it was a game changer because it fed into our desire for instant gratification – it provided us with access to what we wanted, based on the questions we were asking. Behind the scenes, advanced search capabilities with voice recognition were driving the results. Similarly, Google offers a mobile search product, Google Now, powered by voice commands in natural language. This technology is breaking down the long questions that are being asked by the user, and serving relevant answers in real-time.

Essentially, our behavior has evolved and we now look to search engines to be response engines, and major search engines are making moves to accommodate this behavior and deliver results. Google, Yahoo!, and Bing are improving their algorithms and the intelligence of their engines by integrating semantic technology. Their engines must now be calibrated for broader matches based on full phrases, and more importantly, they should have the capability to understand the meaning behind a string of words to serve an answer to the user in seconds.

We see this with new offerings such as Google’s Knowledge Graph and Bing’s Snapshots, known as “entity search” offerings. These focus less on keywords and more on intent-based collective intelligence. While the goal is to accommodate user behavior and provide relevant results, advertisers need to consider the effect this has when it comes to the search engines’ results pages. As traditional result pages are evolving, traditional search ads are being displaced, and in some cases removed altogether, in favor of Google Reviews and Google Catalog, for example. Check out the result page when searching for the Boston Red Sox – here () -- it’s surprising to see zero advertisements for tickets, baseball caps and paraphernalia. To be noticed, businesses are forced to load their products into Google’s product catalog and/or have a positive standing in Google Reviews

This search evolution is spilling over to social search. Earlier this year, Facebook announced its new Graph Search equipped with semantic technology. This provides users with better, more accurate responses to their queries by having the ability to understand specific data points and user preferences. From a consumer perspective, this allows users to discover more, more easily. For example, users can find “like minded” friends after performing a search for, “friends of friends who like Bruno Mars.” From an advertiser’s side, this evolution in Facebook’s search capabilities represents a big opportunity by providing them with enhanced targeting accuracies. In fact, this evolution is expected to drive $3 to $4 billion of revenue by 2015 for Facebook, according to Michael Patcher, an analyst at Wedbush Securities quoted in a Bloomberg Businessweek post.

As users are becoming more sophisticated and search engine providers are updating their algorithms, simple keyword matches have become less important, while the quality of content becomes more important than ever. Content is made up of words that can be scanned and analyzed to determine its relation and association to the words in the longer searches. The better your content is, the more likely it is to be served as a result.

Furthermore, if your content is compelling and valuable, it is likely that it will be shared through social networks, which factor into the indexing of your site on search engines. Additionally, the more content you have, the more keywords and semantic relationships your site will have, which will continue to power your organic traffic growth.

The most savvy marketers and digital advertisers are adapting to the evolving search landscape by thinking about consumer behaviors and what kind of content is needed to get served as a top result when someone conducts a search. According to the Custom Content Council, 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content and, in turn, they are also more likely to buy from that company
Tags: search
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2 comments about "Adapting To A Changing Search Landscape".
  1. Bruce May from Bizperity , August 27, 2013 at 3:45 p.m.
    What a timely message. Content marketing is evolving very fast and this is the driver. I have been teaching my clients to focus on their writing and journalistic skills to win at search. Good writing has always been the best method for gaining the attention of intelligent search bots. As this game gets ever smarter, creating compelling content is indeed the key to success. Your own posting is an excellent example by the way...
  2. Pete Austin from Triggered Messaging , August 28, 2013 at 6:18 a.m.
    You know that facebook search doesn't work, right? I've tried all the following and got 0 answers in each case: your suggestion "friends of friends who like bruno mars", "places to eat in {nearest city}", "good restaurants in {nearest city}". Also "good hotels" finds places on the wrong continent for me and "nice hotels" finds France. Imma ignoring it until next year.