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3 Mar 2010

Changing face of search engine optimisation

by Richard Lyne

The search engine landscape is changing and digital marketing strategies with it. How results are generated is going beyond algorithmic data generated from indexing of the World Wide Web. Firstly, the introduction of real-time/live search has seen greater emphasis placed on news results; and more recently tweets have been taking a high profile on many page 1 results. Whilst some would argue that Google have introduced the latter too soon and without enough relevancy/authority on the tweets, the additional challenges posed to search engine optimisation lie elsewhere.

Good SEO companies have always adapted their practices and rolled with the Google punches, but effective SEM is going to require businesses to re-evaluate their online strategy.

So what is changing? How you use the internet, what search terms you typically use and what websites you visit are all adding up to a wealth of non-web metric data that will contribute to what you see in your search results. Therefore, Google’s ambition to improve relevance in their results has led to “customised search” right down to the individual’s historic web activity.

This doesn’t spell the end for search engine optimisation. Far from it; it actually puts an even greater emphasis on tying together SEO with social media marketing, pay per click advertising and other SEM techniques. OK, there’s nothing new with this, but for a while many companies have been able to focus purely on SEO for their search engine strategy.

So how can businesses respond? Setting up geo-targeted PPC campaigns could be a good starting point. If historic visits will really contribute to organic search engine positions, then PPC may help you to give your SEO activity a boost.

Visitor loyalty and user experience will also become a factor. Every SEO expert will need to review the Analytics of their site to make ongoing changes to improve the user experience and lower bounce rates as much as possible. Usability testing before website development will be crucial and web designs need to engage visitors at every level.

Search engine optimisation is definitely changing, but realistically, strategies need to be about refinement as much as realignment.

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