"Where are we with search? What's changed? Who's better? What about social media?" I've heard these questions on a much more frequent basis over the past couple of months. Here's where we are at...
Before we get into where we are, let's backtrack and review where we've been. Search began with a heavy focus on keywords. Type in "blue widget" and you'd return a list of websites offering blue widgets. Simple and to the point. Unfortunately, "simple" allowed unscrupulous spammers to game the rankings. This led to the search engines to adjust their algorithms creating a sort of "cat & mouse" rivalry between spammers and the search engines. Fast forward to today with the growth of social networks and you will see what search has evolved into...
Search + Social = SEOcial
Even if you've never used or hung out on any of the social networks, you can't help but notice their presence. The search engines noticed and knew they had to evolve. Bing incorporated Facebook into their search results. Google went full social and introduced Google+ to compete. Twitter has balanced between the two, yet hasn't fully committed to search and all that it has to offer.
In my last blog article, I discussed the topic of the Semantic Web and how a person's social media profiles can contribute to his or her's visibility within the search rankings. If you've recently searched on Google, you've probably seen small thumbnail images and other personal elements included on some search results. You'll start seeing more of these semantic elements as search continues to evolve to incorporate social signals.
A Separation of SEM & SEO
In my opinion, organic search results will comprise mostly informational, educational and breaking news content and be given preference over content strictly focused on promoting products and services. eCommerce will eventually have to incorporate PPC campaigns to get any placement.
As a business owner, you can do one of two things; use PPC, which can be effective, or modify your marketing to be more educational and less self-promoting. As a marketer, I've firmly endorsed the "edutainment" aspect of promotion. You can promote while still providing an informative and beneficial resource to your customers.
A Response to Responsive Design
My last blog article produced some inquiries about the use of responsive design for a website. Responsive design uses one web design layout that adapts its presentation to the display window and/or device upon which the website is being viewed. The approach grew out of the need to display websites on a variety of devices.
Now, not all companies can or should use responsive design. Responsive design can become unresponsive, if programming elements overload a subscriber's Internet service. Companies that need more of a mobile web app should opt for a separate mobile website.
Though I know that obstacles exist and not all websites will benefit, I still advocate a responsive design because of one reason; a flexible framework will cut down on maintenance time. Yes, it'll take a bit more time on the front end, but with technology advancing at an ever-increasing rate, we don't know what the next device display may be or what it may offer. That's the nice thing about BannerOS, as it offers the flexibility to use either responsive design or a separate mobile site. The Internet is virtually everywhere. Why not have your website everywhere?
Search is in a state of flux with the heavy hitters wanting a piece of the marketing dollars associated with it. Because of the competition, get used to fluctuations in your search performance. It's going to be a wild ride.
About the author
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