Inflation in 2022 meant tightening of budgets, but the demand for cost-effective and dependable channels became key to understanding consumer behavior.
Despite market fluctuations, search continues to support growth.
As traditional and paid-media costs rise, search engine optimization (SEO) specifically has become the key marketing channel to offer business insights across all digital channels, including connected TV (CTV), content, paid search, email, and display.
“We see every year that companies focusing on SEO see a compounding return on their investment,” says Jim Yu, CEO at BrightEdge. “If you can do well in organic, you continue to do better and better. It’s something we’re seeing in the data.”
This past year has been no different. For example, BrightEdge took a sample of the top-ranking pages for the top 1,000 ecommerce terms and tracked how they performed during the past year, he says.
This year, those same pages drove 20% more keywords each.
Based on click data, this 20% increase actually equated to a 120% lift in traffic.
It is largely attributable to the way the search algorithm is designed to work. If users are engaging with a brand’s page it builds authority, and as more searches emerge related to that page, the page is shown for those different keywords, too.
If marketers want to increase traffic by 20% using paid search, and the site already drove 1 million visitors from search, it would require a “massive incremental spend to realize that same number,” Yu said. “And the minute you stop spending, the traffic goes away. It’s all about the compounding effect of SEO.”
When asked what key things happened that matter most for marketers in 2022, Yu pointed to some major updates from Google that continue to have real impacts on how the channel performs and what to focus on next year.
Moving into 2023, he said it’s important to focus on technical and website experiences, as well as the human experience and content.
When BrightEdge asked SEO experts the company works with to cite their top priorities for 2023, half said that optimizing new and existing content is the top priority, followed by execution efficiencies --such as automating processes and finding ways to do more with less effort.
Measurement strategies and improvements came next. Offsite processes like link building were lower priorities.
SEOs need automation and ability to scale to keep up with search to remain strategic consultants to the organization. Yu provided these tips:
1. Leveraging business insights and intelligence from SEO to provide organizations with invaluable intelligence to propel business success.
2. To guarantee successful website experiences, marketers will need to tap in to the potential of technical SEO (and data science) to deliver exceptional customer experiences, and leverage automation for powerful research insights and website optimization.
3. Visual search is rapidly becoming a key player in the online landscape. Visual searches provide users with an intuitive browsing experience that is expected to improve further in the coming years.
4. Maintaining the balance between optimizing your content and following Google's E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) & Helpful guidelines is key to achieving successful search results. Too much optimization can lead to subpar outcomes -- always strive for a delicate equilibrium and do not over-optimize.
5. Use AI as an ally. Provide data-driven insights, so companies can gain a view into how their business performs and what customers want, enabling them to act quickly on market shifts while understanding customer intentions more thoroughly. By leveraging AI correctly, businesses can benefit from optimization recommendations and efficient scaling processes. Immediate results can be achieved when used for advanced web-page error detection, internal linking and to quickly identify potential technical issues to immediately take corrective measures.
6. SEOs can provide short-term solutions for achieving goals quickly and long-term frameworks that ensure lasting prosperity. SEO informs product, sales, and business strategy at a macro level. It is durable in all economic conditions and cannot be throttled on and off through media budgets.