I gave my first public presentation about online marketing just under 10 years ago for MIMA (Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association) called “Search Engine Smarts – Organic, PPC, SEO, Blog – What Does it All Mean?”.
It was at the J.J. Hill Library in Saint Paul early one morning and about 60 people showed up. To say I was nervous is an understatement.
Back then TopRank Online Marketing was focused mostly on search marketing. My, how things have changed.
Or have they?
In the presentation there’s basic advice about SEO such as:
Use keywords in content: Research keywords and ensure their presence in unique title tags, on-page headings, in text links between pages, as image alt text and within the body copy – but don’t overdo it.
Relevant, fresh content: If no one can find your site, it doesn’t matter how great the design and functionality are. Add relevant content regularly.
Link out – link in: Link to a few authoritative, information-rich sites. Never stop working to attract links from related web sites.
But there are also a few predictions about what’s next for the non-technical or content side of SEO:
- Search engines will continue to improve relevancy and implement more robust “quality improvement” initiatives. Companies will need to be careful about the SEO tactics they use.
- Search Engine Optimization will continue to divide between content optimization and algorithm hacking.
- Effective link building will increasingly involve contextually relevant links from editorial sources such as articles, press releases and blogs.
While there’s a LOT more to optimizing for search than these three things or the SEO 101 advice offered above, I’d say our point of view about search optimization back in 2005 is still pretty relevant for SEO in 2015. Except maybe for the reference to links from press releases of course, but that didn’t really go away until 8 years later.
The trip down SEO memory lane is interesting, but what most marketers want to know is:
“What will search marketing be like 10 years from now?”
With my focus on content and integrated marketing over the past 7 years, I’m not the specialist in search marketing that I used to be. But I do believe search in 10 years will be a LOT different than it is today. Keep in mind here, I’m a bit of a Sci Fi fan 🙂
The seeds have already been planted in terms of the human to digital information interface going more voice than text. Whether the communication method is voice or neural, in 10 years the means of asking questions and receiving answers will be far more contextually relevant and personalized.
The future of search won’t just be about asking a Siri like entity for information or thinking about questions and receiving answers in a micro heads up display (more contact lens than Google Glass), but the application of predictive search answers. In other words, a big data sourced understanding of individuals and situations so specific, that technologies will deliver information with amazing accuracy and relevancy before we need it.
If that’s the case, will it still be called search?
The notion of an all out predictive information scenario is exciting and a little creepy at the same time.
The pressing question about the future of search optimization: What can marketers do to optimize the performance of their digital information as it is presented to buyers in a predictive environment? How can we be the best answer when answers are delivered real-time as customized content to each individual unique to their history, experiences and preferences?
From an organic standpoint, I think it will become much, much more difficult, Paid inclusion, syndication and performance will continue to become a ubiquitous part of online marketing.
Customer insight is King. That said, I continue to believe an understanding of the relationship between the people that buy and their preferences for information discovery, consumption and interaction is the key for brands to be the best answer – whether that answer is delivered as a response to a question or predictively according to a set of circumstances.
Those marketers that develop sophisticated means of customer insight and organize that information in a way to inform a continuous cycle of content, interaction, measurement and refinement will be the best prepared to serve customers through whatever search looks like in the future.
“Be the Best Answer” is Timeless. Whether your brand content is recommended through an Internet of Things device or a neural implant connected to some kind of cloud based artificial intelligence, you can’t go wrong with a “be the best answer” approach to information marketing.
What are your predictions about the future of search marketing? What do you think marketers should focus on into 2015 or 2025?
Update – Nice to see this article from MediaPost 3 days later: IoT Calling On Search Engine Optimizers To Optimize Smart Devices