What is the future of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

26 05 2011

The following was my final post at:  http://www.thecottonsolution.com/blog on May 9, 2011

A mistake was made long ago when someone decided that the skill-sets used to generate website traffic should be named, “Search Engine Optimization.” That shortsighted, naïve individual failed to consider the numerous elements that play an important role in the traffic-building process. Even the term “traffic-building” is a misnomer.

Few website owners would be satisfied with huge increases in website traffic. That, alone, has little value beyond bragging rights (My website had 15 million visitors last year!).

When the sales manager encouraged his sales team to make more calls each day, one man took it to heart. Bedraggled and worn to a frazzle, he stood tall and thrust his chest out as he reported on Friday afternoon that he had made 150 sales calls that week. His ego quickly deflated when he had no response to the manager’s query, “What did you sell?”

Web traffic must be qualified. The purpose of the visit must correlate with the focus of the website. Far too frequently people visit websites because they want to see what a $15,000,000 condo looks like or they want to watch the latest “Flash” presentation.

The SEO specialist is expected to bring the website message to the forefront, to identify, locate, and approach the target market. Once he has gathered their attention, he is expected to draw them into the website and lead them down the path to conversion, whether that be a sale, a registration, or some other predefined action.

At one time, search engines were the most important tool for building a successful website. The internet in general and website owners in particular are becoming more selective. You wouldn’t search for a brain surgeon in the Yellow Pages. Fewer and fewer internet surfers are satisfied with going through thousands of search results to find the business or product that will fill their need. Certainly, searching for a commodity where price, convenience, and availability are the buying criteria, can be best done using search engines. When the buying decision addresses quality, service, and support, search engines fail miserably.

The same person who was called upon to get search engines to index hundreds of keywords is now expected to use blog content, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in a coordinated effort to demonstrate a product’s value, reliability, and performance. Success is now measured in conversions vs. visitor count.  John Q. Public has been deceived once too often by three lines of text in a search result.

The relevance of search engine result content is being challenged on many levels:

  • A recent television ad for Bing hit right at the heart of the matter. A comment about Salsa quickly evolves into a food fight.
  • Google has started requiring content approval for all pay-per-click ads.
  • The growth of image ad placements on the Google Network is outpacing the growth of text ads placed on search results pages.
  • The #2 search engine in the world is YouTube.
  • Organic results on Google are being forced down the page as Google Places, Google Images and Google News take precedence.

The SEO specialist who focuses only on Titles, Descriptions, H1 and Alt tags is being swept aside in a massive rush to relevance.

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