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How Brands Can Cope in the New Era of “Search Experience Optimization”

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In case you haven’t noticed in the past couple of years, Google and its nemeses have grown up. With over a decade of experience under their belt, these search engines have moved beyond simple algorithms and into a host of competing metrics than run the gamut from simple page-crawling spiders to full-blown artificial intelligence.

In the midst of all these changes, brands, their marketers and their webmasters may have noticed one thing: the laundry list of demands for ideal Search Engine Optimization have grown, and they have become more nuanced. No longer can specific numbers like keyword density percentages suffice. Instead, things like content value, site layout and mobile-friendly structures have come to trump these former black-hat SEO tactics.

With traditional SEO becoming more difficult, marketers need to come to one realization to wrap their heads around the fussier and fussier demands: the search engines don’t work for you. They work for the searchers. And now, everything is about their experience.

SEO Becomes SEO? What Search Experience Optimization Means

“Search Experience Optimization” is a phrase coined by industry thought leaders like Entrepreneur’s Mike Templeman. The good news is that we don’t have to memorize a new acronym. The bad news is that much of what we have learned about SEO in the past five years goes out the window.

At the core of this new breed of “SEO” is the message is to think less about specific numbers, keywords, SEO tricks or other former criteria and more about how users look for, decide upon and absorb content. A demand for search engines to yield results that would be of actual interest lead search engines like Google to forsake trigger-happy keyword spammers in favor of pages that contained actual information. Over time, these algorithms got more sophisticated to include other, more-complex criteria like logical grammar, page load times and whether or not the site uses responsive design.

Now, Google and the others have gotten more aggressive towards defining their search results according to the types of things searchers want to see. To do so, they look at a host of various metrics that run a full gamut — none of which stand in isolation, yet none of which should become ignored. The result is that an “SEO perfect” web page is more akin to a delicate soup than a hearty stew, where each ingredient contributes to a delicious whole where the parts are commingled in a harmonious way.

How to Improve Search Experience Optimization

Here are just a few tips to become adept at this new landscape of SEO, along with some links to more in-depth articles about each practice:

  • Chase the Long Tail: Go for more semantic, long-tail keywords over generic short phrases like “Atlanta lawyer.” Searchers are using more conversational queries, especially now that digital assistants like Siri are on the rise.
  • Write Content You Would Want to Read: Blog content should be more for the users than the search engines, if only because search engines are starting to know the difference.
  • Consider Page Load Times: Site speed is becoming a more significant parameter when weighing search engine rankings; test your site on different setups and trim any fat to get your load times lower
  • Don’t Ignore the Rest of the Web: Social media mentions, inbound links and more are becoming mitigating factors when Google is forced to decide between two comparable sites. Build out your online presence on social and other channels to win these battles.

If you need help to come to grips with this new breed of SEO, EverSpark Interactive is more than happy to provide advice, consulting or even a little bit of elbow grease to make your site as presentable as possible to our new search engine overlords. Visit our Atlanta SEO services page to learn more.