Our Internet has come a long way over the last decade. Creating a website, blog, online community, or social media presence has never been easier. For marketers though, cutting through all this chatter to reach a target audience has never been more difficult. While some have predicted the death of SEO, in fact quality search engine optimization has is atop a list of concerns for marketers and CEOs. The bottom line for professionals in the industry being, ever bigger budgets to keep pace with rapidly changing SEO variables.
With the dwindling of major news print publications, and the rise in popularity of online media sources, a huge gap has been created in the way consumers are reached. Today, the channels reach out to audiences have multiplied tenfold, and keeping up with each separate channel, and maintaining a quality presence, has turned the once laissez-faire attitude towards SEO into a full-time preoccupation.
Consumers are more informed than ever, technologically speaking. People now spend hours a day cruising their favorite news websites, blogs, social media sites, and community driven time annihilators — Reddit. Not only are people sitting at their computers and gathering all of this information, they’re connected through their smartphones and grabbing all this information on the go. Somewhere in the clutter of all this, marketers are: scraping, clawing, and pleading for our attention. Trying desperately to hold it for longer than 10 seconds before we deviate to another site, or cat gif.
This vying for consumer’s attention has seen the natural search budget within organizations change over the past 12 months. This infographic created by Mavenlink, looks at how 66% of marketers surveyed say their budgets for SEO have grown, and more than a quarter have reported growth by more than 25%. With this extended budget comes increased hiring to work on boosting SEO. In the past year, the headcount of the natural search team has increased 45%, and the end of 2013 will see an expected increase of 33%.
SEO Gets Its Own Department
Getting that corner office you’ve always dreamed of may soon be easier to procure than it is for the IT department to cut out for a two hour lunch. If you’re looking to expand your usefulness within your company, volunteering to be the newest addition to the growing SEO team may be a wise career move. In most organizations, SEO has been covered under the umbrella of the marketing department. The problem with SEO being lumped into the category of marketing is that SEO’s its own beast, swinging from branch to branch in the Internet search forest — changing directions at break neck speeds (Google and it’s love of adorable animal algorithm changes like Panda and Penguin can be thanked in part for this).
These changes by Google may seem like a giant pain in the neck, but they’re put in place to benefit this new tide of tech savvy, ever-connected content searchers and creators. Google wants to make sure that when you use their search engine, you’re getting the freshest, most valuable content related to your search query. Having tons of densely filled tags, and keyword-optimized pages aren’t making the grade anymore. Worse yet, Natural Language Processing (a process by which search engines determine the overall theme of a page) makes old-fashioned keyword stuffing harmful by penalizing what it perceives to be blatant manipulation. To combat this crack down, companies are going to have to increase manpower and look to bring on an in-house team to ensure the success of their content, and increase brand awareness.
Awareness and Influence
In order to stay on top of things, CEOs have increased their familiarity with SEO metrics to gain further insight, and obtain a firmer grasp on the day-to-day inner workings of their marketing efforts. If they don’t understand the type of traffic coming into their brand, how are they supposed to know which avenue works best, where their audience lives online, and ultimately find out what’s working and what’s not?
“In the past, SEO was seen as a largely specialized part of the business, with few members having a working knowledge of how it worked, or affected the organization. Now, 65% of those surveyed agree: SEO has a rightful seat at the revenue table.”
A lot of talk has been centered on Big Data this past year. One of the biggest things about Big Data is that in the last two years, humans have created 90% of all information ever created by our species. We create digital footprints on our desktops, laptops, and smartphones everyday. Each online search, purchase, Facebook post, or Tweet creates information about our behaviors — and all of these interactions are being collected and stored.
All of this collecting and data hoarding is hanging out in a cloud-based memory server somewhere, waiting to be harnessed and mastered. Social logins are giving sites access to our browsing history and online activity. Major sites like the Huffington Post, and Mashable, are collecting social login data on our reading history. Which, when they look at the metrics, gives them better insight into the articles audiences are reading and engaging with the most. The importance for organizations to begin acknowledging that Big Data can be beneficial cannot be emphasized enough, especially when its the right kind of data. Soon, it won’t just be how businesses can use Big Data to their advantage, but how consumers can use it to benefit their own lives as well.
The Future of SEO
All of this bodes well for the future of SEO. CEOs are beginning to acknowledge the power of quality SEO, marketers are gaining bigger budgets, and teams are growing in size. Here’s a list of the Top 5 Search Goals for marketers in the next year: Improve content development and strategy, scale keywords, improve measuring ROI from search, increase social presence in the SERPs, and gain deeper analysis.