SEO: the 4 storms looming

by bold-lichterman

In 2011, the Panda and Penguin filters turned the SEO world upside down. Quickly mastered and bypassed by SEOs, these developments are only a glimpse of the major changes of the coming years. Here is an overview of the storms that are coming, and how to prepare for them.

Google: an uninhibited advertising engine

In February 2016, Google changed the design of its results pages by removing the ads on the right, in favor of a fourth link at the top of the page. This is not an insignificant development in design, but a symbol of the new direction of the search engine.

On the majority of screens, natural results are now found below the waterline, in favor of advertising. The four advertising links reduce the space available for auction, and naturally increase the cost per click of advertisers.

To go even further, Google has just announced that the Local Pack, (highlighting local businesses on geolocated queries) already reduced to three links in 2015, would lose another link in favor of an advertisement.

These latest developments are the sign of a hunt for advertising profit, which is at the expense of the quality of search results. Users cringe, but with its 90% Search market share, Google still seems untouchable in France.

Direct consequence: Faced with aggressive strategies to make sponsored links more and more visible, while 51% of Internet users struggle to understand the difference between paid and natural results, the click rate on natural results is likely to gradually decrease over the next few years. . Positioning yourself in the first search results will therefore be all the more important, in order to continue to capture natural traffic.

An algorithm in autopilot mode

It’s official for a few weeks, Rank Brain, Google’s artificial intelligence algorithm, intervenes on all the queries typed in the engine. Introduced in spring 2015 to process “original” requests, artificial intelligence has become the algorithm’s third signal after links and content.

And so will you tell me?

Well, the problem with artificial intelligence is that it becomes impossible to know exactly how the ranking algorithm works. The machine is able to constantly evolve the algorithm according to the behavior of users in the face of the proposed results. It is becoming more and more difficult to “manipulate” Google, without taking into account the user experience and the content strategy as a whole.

Direct consequence: SEO will therefore have to take better account of the quality of the content offered and the user experience to guarantee good positioning in search results. A content strategy and a well-optimized site will be increasingly important factors in ensuring visibility.

Invisible consumer journeys

Until now, websites were essential for accessing accurate and up-to-date information. Websites were therefore crucial stages in the purchasing journey of consumers when they inquired about a product, a service or made a purchase.

Things may well change in the coming months. In 2016, Facebook opened the race for conversational bots. These robots are artificial intelligence programs that can read and respond to messages autonomously. If the technology is still little diffused and optimized, new uses appear such as to find a professional, a product, contact a customer service, manage its finances or its purchases… So many scenarios for which a visit of the website of a business will no longer necessarily be essential.

Direct consequence: Faced with the competition of these conversational robots, business sites will have to be well referenced and useful to consumers to maintain their place in the purchasing journey.

The glitter of Big Data

Big Data, Real Time Bidding, Data Management Platform… The current trend is on the purchase of traffic. Nothing is more rewarding for a marketing manager than communicating about the millions of views purchased during their last YouTube campaign. Why bother to create original and sought-after content when all you have to do is pay to ensure the visibility of any ad?

However, between Adblock, false traffic, bad impressions on targets, redirection errors… the results in terms of qualified traffic remain very disappointing, not to mention the click-through rates on standard formats which have almost become non-existent. Still, this is the trend of the moment, and SEO and content production budgets are suffering.

Direct consequence: Investments are shifted to new media technologies and the purchase of space to the detriment of site optimization and content creation. However, with the inflation of costs per click billed by the advertising agencies, natural traffic has never been so advantageous, and a generator of sustainable growth.

So why should we keep investing in SEO?

1. Because it remains the best way to attract qualified traffic

Despite the changes to come, SEO will remain the most effective tool to position oneself in front of active consumers, during their phases of researching information or products. The reflex to go through a search engine is now anchored in the daily habits of consumers and will not change significantly in the coming years.

2. Because your consumers always have problems to solve, and need your help.

Your consumers always have needs or problems. Responding to them with well-positioned content will remain an undeniable competitive advantage. Therefore, SEO should no longer be seen solely as a visibility and traffic acquisition tool, but as a means of answering the questions and questions of your consumers.

3. Because it’s building a digital heritage

All SEO actions are capitalized over time and increase the authority of your domain and your audience. Little by little, you are creating your own traffic so that you no longer have to pay for each click to media companies, while the prices are soaring.

Pierre-Alexandre MessnerESSEC graduate, Pierre-Alexandre Messner is digital marketing consultant. He was Digital Manager for major brands, like FMCG for 5 years. In 2016, he created the agency Web Sparkler to support brands and marketing professionals in their digital strategies.

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