Last week we ran our first digital forum for clients and industry partners under the banner of ‘SEO for 2013 & beyond’. The Short version: The feedback was very positive, so we’ll be holding them regularly, with an aim of bi-monthly. Our next one will be late January/early February and will be focussed on digital strategy, giving the participants a framework for planning their strategy across digital platforms for the year. The Longer version:For those who didn’t have a chance to make it, here’s a quick overview of some of the key points covered.
That’s changing how people interact and shop. The time between new innovations is getting shorter and so we now live in an age where new trends such as wearable computing are emerging before existing trends such as mobile computing have fully played out.
In the midst of all this change, it can be challenging to separate the hype from reality. The hype curve shows how products are initially launched with huge expectations, but that these expectations are often over-inflated and so inevitably are followed by disillusionment. In the third phase, participants gradually learn how to make effective use of the platform and it goes on to become a productive platform. We’ve had a go at plotting where different social media platforms are on this curve but obviously this varies depending on which country and industry is being examined. For example, the market in the US is further along the curve than Australia in most industries.
And yet, in the midst of all this change, there are timeless principles of marketing and customer service that will always apply. In customer service, providing a great product consistently at a reasonable price is a fundamental principle, although the channels that this is delivered through now include the web, mobile and social media. In marketing, it is still about getting the right message, to the right person at the right time. But there are now an abundance of digital channels to market through, and the tactics differ with each one and are continually evolving.
When it comes to SEO, it has certainly evolved dramatically since the first search engines appeared in the 90s, but at its core it has always consisted of the same three steps – index, search and results. All search engines fundamentally use the same process, however let’s use Google as an example: Index: Firstly, Google must create an index of the content available on the web. It does this using software called a bot or spider that crawls through the 60 trillion pages of the Internet. Google has put a huge effort into making this index as complete and fresh as possible. Search: Secondly, the user enters their search term and from that Google makes a best guess as to what the user is searching for and combs through its index to find the most relevant results. There are currently over 200 factors used by Google to retrieve the most useful results from the index. Of course, Google doesn’t always get this right but they are continually striving to return the most relevant results possible. Results:Thirdly, Google displays the search results. The way that the results are displayed is also undergoing change with the addition of features such as ‘Knowledge Graph’ that show summary information for commonly searched topics.
While the three steps of search haven’t changed, there has been incredible change in Google’s algorithms and 2013 has seen more change than any other year before it. This means that tactics that worked in the past like building thousands of low quality links not only no longer work but can result in penalties. The tactics that work now and into the future take time and effort and so the era of the free lunch is over. So, what is working now and looks set to work in the future?
Well, that’s a quick overview of the session. Thanks for all the positive feedback we got from the session and we’d welcome any other comments that readers have.