Google may not be panicking just yet, but it is clear change is coming to the way we find information on the internet.
There are other search engines out there, but really, Google continues to rule when it comes to searching online. Besides, you know that you’ve made it to the top of your field when you become a verb and “I’m going to Google that” becomes part of the vernacular.
As a business owner dependent on the internet to build and grow your business, you already know the importance of maintaining a Google-friendly website to ensure your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts keep you at the top of the search rankings. But keep in mind, all things change over time, and if recent trends are a prediction of the future, then the way we use the internet is also going to change.
SEO and Cynicism
Efforts to improve SEO have long been associated with questionable tactics and finding ways to “game” the system to improve ranking have practically become a science. Google continues to change its search algorithms to punish those attempting to outright manipulate the search criteria, but the fact remains that Google receives a lot of money from firms paying to ensure they rank at the top of a search list.
As consumers become more educated and understand how search results are now driven by the use of paid ads and paying for certain keywords, cynicism continues to grow. This cynicism is now bordering on mistrust and some consumers are actively turning to other ways to find information online.
One area that has expanded greatly in the last few years is the use of mobile apps. Services like Uber, Airbnb, and – dare we say, Tinder – are but a few examples of how these niche sites are coming to the fore. If you have Uber on your smartphone, for instance, you do not need to search online for a cab and we will see even more segmentation like this in the future.
The Power of Social Media
Marketing types have always known about the power of the referral. This is especially true with service industries where a happy customer testimonial can be far more convincing than typical ad copy. What’s even more compelling is when that referral comes from a family or trusted friend.
We are seeing this trend emerging within the main social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. Individuals now often turn to their social media contacts for information or advice on everything from a good restaurant or a movie to see on a Friday night and this is just another example of how reliance on generic web searches is on the decline.
So what does this mean for SEO? Well, it may be a bit early to write off SEO altogether, but you definitely need to think about additional ways to engage your audience. Social media continues to expand its reach and you ignore the impact these channels will have on consumers at your own peril.
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