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SEO and the Shift to Searchable Content

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    Charles Ryder recently gave a talk at the Australian Marketing Institute Annual Congress in Perth, WA. The content, ‘SEO has moved on, have you?’ was published on Social Media today and has since sparked some interesting dialogue on SEO in Perth. The below article is a summary of the talk, taking a close look at where SEO is heading in 2015 and beyond.

    SEO Industry History

    SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a common term used in the online marketing industry. But has the term dated? Should we really take a look at what SEO means today, and maybe change the term for the better?

    SEO can be a ‘dirty word’ to some people as unfortunate incidents in the industry have seen some agencies engaging in unacceptable practises in the past. The implication that the industry is doing something for major ‘search engines’ isn’t always a clear objective. At WCR, we feel associating our services in the same light as using a Search Engine as a broker to facilitate reaching a real person – a potential customer for your business – better defines what SEO is all about.

    Looking back over the last 10 years, we can see some significant milestones in the SEO industry of Perth and the world. They are:

    • SEO in Perth circa 2005. SEO first started to become a service that was offered in Perth circa 2005. At this time, SEO held a highly technical focus for results. Now, it is less of a focus for overall strategy as illustrated in this picture below:

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    Panda & Penguin Algorithms 2011/12

    • Panda was first released in February of 2011, affecting nearly 12 percent of all search queries and making it one of the most significant algorithm changes in Google’s history. Intended to weed out low-quality content and reward sites with high-quality, actively updated content, the Panda update majorly changed SEO strategies from a basis in keyword-stuffing gimmick to a basis in user-focused content strategy.
    • Penguin was first released in April 2012 and was introduced by Google to catch out websites that tried to beat the system by using link building techniques in questionable and in some cases blatantly poor practises. The two updates Google rolled out to improve their search results shared a common objective: to improve the user experience and ultimately quality of the content for high ranking websites.

    New Age of Content Marketing Circa 2013

    With the two above updates now ingrained into the SEO landscape, a big emphasis on content marketing developed circa 2013. Traditionally up until this point, link building had been a core focus for SEO however at the time time we saw a switch to a bigger consideration for content marketing. This is confirmed by Google itself in their “Google Trends” free research tool.

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    So what is Content Marketing?

    “Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

    What do we want from Search?

    So, with the rise of content marketing, what exactly is it that users of the internet want from Search? In 2014, it can best described in one word- usefulness. And businesses competing in the search rankings, what do they want from Search? An increase in:

    • Rankings
    • Organic Traffic
    • Conversions
    • Competitive Advantage
    • Increased Reputation
    • Brand Awareness
    • Brand Recognition
    • Customer Engagement

    The Future of Advertising is Digital

    The following stats have been taken from PWC’s analysis of the marketing industry for business in 2014: You can read more on these stats here in a recent WCR blog post. 

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    • 2 in 3 marketers have seen a shift in marketing spend from ‘bought’ to ‘owned’ channels
    • 1 in 4 marketers spend between 20 and 30 per cent of their budget building and maintaining their own channels
    • 3 in 5 marketers estimate their investment in data and data analytics will increase in the next 1-2 years
    • Advertising spending to reach $14.4 billion by 2018, a compound annual growth rate of 3.1 percent
    • By 2018 internet advertising will be largest advertising sector, reaching $5.7 billion

    SCM & SCO

    So with the above thoughts in mind, is SEO really the best term for the work we do? We don’t think so.  An alternative we think is a more suited fit is “Search Content Marketing (SCM) and Search Content Optimisation (SCO)” After all; it is the content that is being searched for by the end user, the potential customer.

    Tips for Improving SCO (Searchable Content Optimisation)

    • On-site Technical SEO and Content Optimisation & Promotion Refers to site structural and content audits that reveal better ways to make content navigable, index-able and meaningful for both search engines and users alike. This includes things like load speed, useful engaging content, call to actions and responsive design for multi-platform users.
    • Off-site Content Optimisation & Promotion Refers to external (i.e. to your corporate website) content development, optimisation and placement to build brand and reputation. This should facilitate traffic and connections to related content on the corporate website, and can include social media, blogs, news and other industry related sites.
    • Improve you content synergy and symmetry: Linking great editorial or blog articles to great relevant resources on your corporate website.
    • Improve site load speeds (3 to 6 seconds): When those external visitors get to your great content resources they can read them before they click the back button.
    • Make your site(s) responsive to mobile platforms: For similar reasons as stated above and in response to changing ways users experience the Internet.
    • Consider repurposing existing content: This can include video into transcripts, stills, blogs or Slide Shares as embedded below in this article.

    The WCR Takeaway

    “If I had the power, I would ban the use of the SEO term altogether, but the reality of the situation is that we are going to have to live with it for a good while yet”, states Ryder in the Social Media Today article. By shifting the SEO term to SCO (Search Content Optimisation) we delve into something bigger than just your standard search engine rankings. Content that is quality, informative, engaging and well-optimised has much more sales conversion pulling power, providing customers with a holistic approach to search and online marketing.

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