As each search engine introduces new algorithms that bring varying sets of rules that make it harder for the SEO community to operate within it’s established practises, one can’t help but wonder about the future of SEO in general.
It’s about time the community as a whole faced a few realities, once these are addressed we can move on and work with search engine marketings evolution. Search engines such as Google make a large majority of their money by selling ads whether it is through pay per click or other means.
Only ten websites can be on the first page of the SERPS (Search results pages) at any given time for one particular phrase or keyword –all websites from a commercial sense would like to be at the top – It doesn’t serve a search engines interest for natural rankings that have their sites inflated with search engine marketing techniques to be sitting in top positions. By doing this, search engines lose potential revenue. They know this and implement rules into their latest updates (algorithms) to defeat and make it less easy for SEO’s to optimise a website for top positions by using unnatural techniques.
The job of a good SEO is not only to draw upon their experience as search marketers but to work within the scope of the new updates and find the ‘best way forward’ For all the misgivings I hear in various forums and conferences about Google it does appear to work towards the basic principles of ‘content is king’ if you have great content your popularity will go up and the links will come. The web was created with communities sharing content. Google cannot be seen at this point to be straying away from this one most important facet of the World Wide Web.
New technologies for the end-user
Another major factor in keeping ahead with good SEO is the optimisation and development of quality websites. Web standards play a role here and this is something Google cannot be seen to be ‘bucking’ either. As the web moves forward so does it’s associated technology. One of these technologies is providing a better user experience for visitors. Visitors will vote with the back-button for a poorly developed website. We are now over the stage where we can produce the drivel that has plagued the web for so long. Visitors are no longer impressed just by having a website, they no longer look at the web like the new ‘snake-oil’ technology it once was. Visitors expect information and to find what they came for. No more gimmicks and or slap-hazard sites, the only new technology they want to see is technology that helps them or enhances the user-experience.
Part of this technology is accessibility/usability. Designing a website that meets W3C standards for usability will not only be good from a ethical point, but increase traffic and lighten a sites code considerably, sometimes as much as 50%. Building a full accessible website using enhanced coding such as CSS2, XHTML and content driven will see a site eventually rise through the search engines.
The future of SEO should include clean coding habits and start working with newer techniques that are currently available. I simply do not understand why a majority of SEO’s continue to work to the same criteria and keep using the same old techniques then bemoan their losses when another search engine update upsets or undoes their work. The future of SEO has to shift with the latest updates and the web as it goes through it’s evolution.
Building on the basics
Why are a majority of SEO’s scared to try something new? What holds back a consultant working with the most technological advanced apparatus ever known from trying new ideas and ‘pushing the proverbial envelope out?’ A lot of it can be placed firmly on the back of complacency, getting used to proven ideas that soon become old. Part of it is also inexperience. A good SEO today needs at the very least a fundamental understanding of coding, marketing, and a real a real understanding on how users search the Internet. Go back and look at the basics and build upon them, this should be the mantra of every SEO.
Mobile Web Optimization
For us (Sonet) and a few others realise part of this future will be the web on the move. This includes having fast and easy access to the mobile web at all times through mobile smartphones and PDA’s. Building websites that are easily accessible on the mobile web and optimising these sites will be huge for the SEO industry. New rules will have to be learnt and old habits will have to be left behind. The future of these ’smart-sites’ will need a good mobile search optimisation (mSEO)) to ensure that they receive maximum exposure and ‘first in place’ for any visitors looking for their product on their smartphones. Optimisation techniques will include: Delivering light and speedy pages. Optimising for only one or two well thought out key-phrases. Smart ad copy that will be a few sentences and need to sell to its intended audience. The use of CSS2/CSS3 and developing sites in XHTML without tables.
And this mobile scenerio
Picture this: A person arrives in a city or town – lets call the town nowhereville – they get online with their smartphone and access the mobile web through one of the mobile search engines such as Google or Yahoo’s mobile search they type in “hotels in nowhereville” they want to eat: “restaurant in nowhereville” they need to get there: “directions to YumYum restaurant in nowhereville” and who comes up first will be the site that has been optimised for this platform. SEO’s take note: If you want to be around to gripe about a search engine update in three years, then now is the time to shift into gear and start looking ahead. Google will soon release it’s mobile search engine and the rules for being considered for a listing will be quite stringent.