NCET Explores Business and Technology
By Chad Hallert
The rate of technological change over the past few years has been dizzying, to say the least. For me, it’s still hard to fathom the iPhone didn’t exist prior to 2007. How did we ever live? There is, perhaps, no “place” experiencing more rapid change than the Internet.
Each year, Google performs an average of 500 updates to its search algorithm. In 2016, Google suggested this number surpassed 1,000. For businesses, this has created both significant risk and opportunity. A major change in search rankings can cost a business significant customers, revenue and profits. Far too often, business owners, marketing departments and web teams feel helpless in defending and improving their search positions. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The face of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is changing, primarily due to recent efforts to bake Artificial Intelligence (AI) into search algorithms. A decade ago, search engine marketers could create a site with some keywords in specific places, drop some links around the web and start ranking within a short amount of time. The web has grown tremendously since that time and these methods are no longer viable. Instead of focusing only on keywords, search engine algorithms now attempt to “understand” your content.
Here are two fundamentals of successful SEO in 2016 (and beyond):
1. Focus on Customer Needs
Search engines offer something truly unique in the marketing world – expressed user intent. When someone types in “best pizza in Reno,” the user’s needs are fairly clear. This is an amazing opportunity for businesses to show up in the moment and provide valuable content to help solve their problems, answer their questions and make their lives just a little bit better (ideally through their product or service).
2. Structure Your Site for Understanding
As good as search algorithms are at crawling and indexing website content, they are now trying to do something much more difficult – understand what your content is all about and match it to user needs. This is a difficult task and is on the cusp of science fiction. Help them! Take advantage of tools like Schema and Data Highlighter to wrap you content in a nice box with pretty wrapping paper and a bow. It will help the search engines understand your content and what to do with it.
Chad Hallert is the Director of Digital Strategy at the award-winning digital marketing agency Noble Studios and winner of the 2015 Direct Marketing News 40 under 40. He and his team of digital strategists help global brands grow their businesses through innovative digital marketing.
Learn how to get better results from your SEO at NCET’s Tech Bite luncheon on May 25. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces networking events to help individuals and businesses explore and use technology. Register for the event and more info at NCET.org. This column first appeared in the Reno Gazette-Journal.