SEO has always been a fast-moving discipline, and the development of digital assistants, the power of geotargeting and the spread of voice search have only accelerated that pace of change.
But the essence of a strong search strategy hasn’t really changed, says Bill Sebald, SEO expert and managing partner at Greenlane Search Marketing. It’s all about “helping searchers and search engines achieve the goal of connecting needs with the best answers.”
We asked Sebald to share his take on where Google is headed next and how marketers should think about search.
What impact do you see voice search and digital assistants having on search in the next year?
Google’s investment in voice search, starting with Hummingbird and growing through AI and other advanced search models, show that Google believes the searcher’s habits are shifting. Google is a data company; I’m banking on them being accurate on this movement. As users continue to learn that they can hold conversations with ever-improving systems, the fad will become commonplace.
As these platforms get even better at understanding the context behind each specific searcher’s need, and understanding each person’s intent, the adoption will grow further. It’s a matter of time until you’re walking down the street, suddenly remembering you are low on laundry detergent, and (hands-free) saying into your AirPods, “Hey Google, buy a large bottle of Tide.” The platform — in this case Google — will know the rest, and just do it with little need for clarification on how you make purchases. They’ll know your history and preferences beforehand.
What’s the biggest mistake you see marketers make when it comes to search right now?
Living in the past on quick tactics that have minor — or negative — impact, versus building out marketing campaigns that tie closer to traditional marketing initiatives. Google made serious statements with recent algorithmic changes, showing webmasters and SEOs they simply weren’t interested in being manipulated. Spamming is much tougher, and the standard blocking and tackling that all websites now do isn’t enough to help you beat your competitors who spent the time to really appeal to Google’s improved comprehension.
What other technology shifts do you see on the horizon that will impact search?
AR and VR will become more common tools for helping to make buying decisions and get information. I believe they will go from quirky, fun experiences here and there to commonplace. I still believe the phone is the key peripheral here.