Will Your Business (And Your Website) Adapt & Evolve With Google?
We've come a long way from the "10 blue links" search results page. Columnist Trond Lyngbø outlines how to ensure you're keeping up as SEO develops.
You’re losing revenue, missing opportunities and placing your business at risk — if you ignore how Google adapts and evolves day by day.
The Google we see today is not the same search engine “challenger” that launched in 1998. It has constantly innovated to stay on top of the hyper-competitive search market. With your business’ success intimately linked to the search giant, you run a great risk by not adapting and growing in pace with these innovations.
What’s Going Wrong
Often, when a company decides to launch a new website, it will pick a launch date and just “go for it.” The process is a lot like creating a paper airplane — once it’s launched, you’re no longer in control. It can take any course, fly whatever distance and land anywhere at all.
Companies that take this approach to launching a site will meet with designers and web developers, draw up a to-do list, and check off each item as tasks are completed. When all the items have been checked off, the site is launched.
The company then expects that, within a few months, Tinkerbell will come and sprinkle some magic SEO dust on its creation — and rocket it to the top of Google search results!
Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. While the items in this company’s to-do list may have been good ones, it’s likely that these one-off tasks were not considered within the context of a larger, ongoing SEO strategy.
The above is not an uncommon scenario — many companies do not think about SEO in the early planning stages of website development. They mistakenly believe that SEO is itself a one-off item, something to be “tacked on” once the site is complete.
The truth is that search engine optimization needs to be built into the foundation of your website — everything from your site architecture to how your site is coded to which CMS platform you choose will all impact SEO.
SEO doesn’t stop when your site is launched, either. At that point, SEO then becomes an ongoing process of keeping up with competitors, which necessitates knowing the latest tactics and keeping up with Google’s ever-changing guidelines.
How Does This Affect Businesses?
When you rush to launch a website without thinking through these issues carefully, a host of problems crop up from an organic search and SEO perspective.
These problems will force you into hibernation or slow down progress, often needing four to six months of costly re-development and restructuring to fix something that shouldn’t have been broken in the first place.
It’s like having your best “sales person” (your website) crippled and hobbling around on one leg, slowing down your entire marketing process and holding your business back from achieving its true potential. You’ll take longer and spend more to reach your goals.
Studies have suggested that roughly half of all web traffic comes from organic search. Gambling with your biggest source of relevant traffic is irresponsible and dangerous — no business should take a risk like that in 2014.
The Need To Adapt & Evolve
Google is continuously adjusting to changes in the online environment — but many businesses don’t.
In order to beat out competitors in achieving (and holding on to) top search rankings, businesses must be willing to evolve and adapt. SEO has never remained static. It never will.
Google has moved far beyond the “10 blue links” of listing search results. Consequently, SEO has evolved far beyond just adding keywords to your content. And the speed of evolution and adaptation is increasing.
Silos and barriers between SEO and other disciplines — web design, content marketing, social media, and even offline marketing — have broken down. These synergies are being exploited.
I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.
Far too many people are looking at where Google has been, not to where it’s headed. That is why their search strategy fails.
Why Do Businesses Ignore SEO?
There are many reasons why SEO is not given its due. The three most common ones that I’ve heard over the years are:
1. Decision-Makers are unaware of the importance of organic search in business growth and development. In their ignorance, they skip or gloss over analysis, goal setting and strategic planning — jumping directly into tactics and implementation.
Instead of looking at the big picture and planning for the future, they get caught up in more and more “busy work,” throwing more things on to their to-do list and running faster inside the hamster wheel… but getting nowhere fast.
2. Developers, Designers, Content Producers & Analysts do not clearly understand how important an organic search strategy is for business growth and development. Or, if they do, they don’t know how to implement it properly while coding or designing.
Honestly, I’m shocked at how poorly some of my new clients have been served by their designers and vendors of CMS or e-commerce solutions. If you’re in charge of managing this part of your business, make sure you have a basic understanding about search engines and organic search.
3. Compartmentalization limits cross-specialty interaction and cooperation. The complex, dynamic, changing world of search engines and SEO makes it difficult for CEOs and managers to keep abreast of developments — perhaps because they are used to thinking in silos.
This makes it harder to integrate organic search into their media strategies. In the connected world we live in today, synergies abound everywhere. But even when they hold many “threads,” they aren’t sure how best to weave them into the marketing fabric — without knowing what is important, or why it is.
What Can Businesses Do To Change?
Imagine your website as the “company” and channels like organic search, direct traffic and referrals as “employees” (sales personnel). Traffic is your “revenue.” If organic search traffic is your top salesperson, driving ~50% of your “revenue,” why is it the lowest paid “employee”?
In order to succeed online, your business must invest in SEO from the beginning and continue to nurture SEO initiatives on an ongoing basis.
Doing well in organic search requires knowing where Google is now and observing where it is headed — then making sure that you, too, are moving in the same direction.
Google’s efforts to evolve and adapt are driven by the desire to serve users better. It is successful because people keep coming back again and again to search. If users don’t keep returning, Google will lose money — and eventually die. So, providing the best user experience will always be the primary focus of the search giant.
When you align your business with Google’s quest to always provide users with the best, most valuable, and most relevant solutions to their problems, you will win. This scenario evolves rapidly. Algorithms shift and change like desert sands. Complexity increases. Your SEO must keep pace with it.
Stop blindly optimizing for last year’s trends and standards. Instead, look at what technology Google is using today — and what they are likely to be using tomorrow. When planning long-term, consider the following:
- How are tomorrow’s search users going to ask for help or conduct research?
- How will search habits and search technology evolve?
- How will Google adapt to these changes and ensure that they continue to offer users the best experience?
- Don’t hurry to implement tactics. Instead, make strategic, long-term plans.
- Google is evolving and adapting. So should you. Skate to where the puck is going to be.
- Don’t think in silos. Integrate organic search into your larger media and marketing strategies.
- If organic search is what drives most of your online traffic and revenue, shouldn’t you spend more time and resources on it?
- Google cares about its users, and will try to understand your sites, services and products through improved algorithms and automation. Make this easier for them, and you’ll win.
I would love to hear your experiences and tips about evolving and adapting your business with Google to dominate organic search. Please share them in a comments.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.