For many brands, organic SEO is a tricky part of digital marketing. On the one hand, organic search plays a huge role in modern purchasing behaviors. On the other hand, modern search algorithms — like Google’s AI-driven RankBrain algorithm —are increasingly opaque. They’re also constantly changing, which raises concerns about the long-term impact of optimization.
However, if you can master the basics of modern SEO, the returns are well worth the investment. Consumers rely on organic search at multiple stages of the sales funnel, many of which are critical to purchasing decisions. And because organic search is self-led, users are more inclined to trust high-quality content that they find through organic search.
The essentials of organic search in 2019 are significantly different from five or ten years ago. In this post, we’ll cover three of the most important (and most misunderstood) aspects of modern SEO:
- How algorithms like RankBrain reward user-focused content
- Why consumers expect more information than ever from brands
- Where brands fit within the wider organic search ecosystem
Organic SEO Essentials for 2019
Content for RankBrain = Content for Users
From day one, Google has urged brands to create content for users instead of search engines. In the past, brands could safely ignore that advice. With the right backlinks, keywords, and metadata, it was relatively easy to increase your Google rankings. But that’s changed in the age of RankBrain.
With RankBrain, Google’s algorithm no longer uses hard-and-fast rules to determine rankings. Through machine learning, RankBrain is constantly refining its criteria for rankings. What’s more, these criteria differ from query to query. That means there are fewer and fewer best practices that you can safely apply across all of your pages.
The algorithm is now so dynamic and so complex that even Google’s own engineers no longer understand why certain pages rank better than others. But given users’ off-the-charts trust in Google search, it appears that RankBrain is doing its job: serving users the best and most relevant results.
That’s why digital marketers are divesting themselves of hard-and-fast rules for SEO. Instead, they’re assuming that Google knows what users want, and they’re optimizing their content to provide that experience. This means doing as Google has long suggested: instead of trying to figure out what Google’s algorithm expects, they’re creating content based on what users actually want.
Consumers Want More Information Than Ever
Thanks to RankBrain, brands need to create content that users want. But these wants are constantly evolving. That invites the question: What are users actually searching for in 2019?
A recent clickstream study by Google sheds light on the answer. According to this study, users have become much more research savvy than those of the past. The typical user relies on organic search to research different products and services before making a purchase decision. A growing number of users will research products, services, and brands on a previously unheard of level, tracking down every morsel of info they can find.
Additionally, Google found that the research phase now frequently extends past the point of purchase. After buying a product or service, users continue to search for information that will help them make the most of their purchase.
Smart brands have already picked up on these changes, and they’ve adapted their organic search marketing to match. They take the time to understand their consumers’ research habits both before and after a purchase. They then optimize their content to answer users research queries and concerns.
Optimize Across Multiple Search Channels
When digital marketers talk about organic search, they’re primarily referring to Google’s main search engine. After all, 88% of users say that they use Google for most of their search needs. And the mark of a successful SEO campaign remains a #1 ranking on Google search.
This, however, ignores two important things…
First, Google operates a number of additional search engines, many of which are integrated with their core search offering. That’s why results from Google Maps, Google Images, Google News, and other Google services often appear within search results pages. Google also operates search engines for Google Assistant, Google Voice, and YouTube, to name just a few of its most widely used services.
Second, while Google is the focus of most SEO efforts, search engines from other companies are a huge part of the modern online ecosystem. There are Google-alternatives like Bing. Virtual assistants with built-in search, like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa. Social networks like Facebook and Instagram use their own search algorithms. And then there’s Amazon — the largest retailer on the planet, and the focus of intensive search optimization by vendors.
The bottom line? If brands want to maximize their organic reach, they need to think about how they fit into all of these different search engines.
Learn more about Qiigo’s Search Engine Optimization solutions here.