Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is no longer a set it and forget it channel. The days of front-end heavy lifting to successfully launch fully optimized websites on search engines only to watch them operate on cruise control are gone. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the world’s largest search engine, Google, changes its algorithm up to 500—600 annually. And while the majority of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out major changes (BERT, Panda, Penguin) that send seismic shifts throughout the search landscape. Those brands who maintain SEO passively will be left swimming upstream to those digital marketers who pay close attention to this evolution.
But outside of these algorithm changes, it’s the rapid shifts in consumer demand and interests that truly requires brands to remain agile in their approach to SEO. The digital landscape continues to progress in service of the customer, constantly refining approaches to provide users what they want, when they want it. And as consumer behavior advances, quickly pivoting from one trend to the next, the onus is on brand marketers to ensure their site content aligns to the ever-changing consumer needs. To do so properly, site content must remain up to date and align with not only what consumers are searching, but more critically how they are searching. There are a number of terrific resources available like Answer The Public, Ahrefs, Moz, Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner to help brands monitor these developments and stay ahead of the curve as much as possible. Brands that identify the natural language with which consumers search can use those insights to foster content creation for their website. In doing so, brands should earn more favor with Google’s algorithm, ultimately giving their website the best opportunity to rank higher on the search engine results pages for relevant consumer queries.
In years past, brand marketers doubted the value of their website. Often times, unless their site sold products directly to the consumer, digital marketers de-prioritized websites in favor of lower funnel channels (Amazon, Walmart) or heavily trending social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram). But the digital landscape experienced a noticeable shift once the pandemic hit. Consumers are now at home more, researching online to educate and discover information about categories and topics less familiar to them. As a result, the search landscape is now an extremely crowded piece of real estate for brand marketers, which ultimately drives up the value of brand websites. In order to maintain (or even grow) market share at a time when consumer demand is high, brands must keep a pulse on consumer behavior and industry trends to generate visibility. In 2020, home care and DIY projects became key themes in people’s lives, and brands able to service these types of consumer queries with relevant, up to date content (Tide, Clorox, Scotts) gain visibility and develop brand loyalty with top of funnel consumers. And that loyalty helps drive conversion, as consumers that buy from big-box retailers often make their choices based on interactions with brand sites.
SEO is not thought of as an agile digital channel, it is always more the foundational anchor that is too often neglected. But times are changing. The landscape is changing. Consumer behavior is changing. There is no longer room for neglect in the digital landscape, especially with search. A successful SEO content strategy takes effort. Diligent brands that maintain monthly optimization schedules, review monthly reports for abnormalities, keep tabs on industry and consumer trends and stay up to date on best practices set themselves up to successfully garner visibility on the SERP and build lasting relationships with consumers.