Clutch spoke with Lance Bachmann, President of 1SEO, about current trends in search engine optimization and how it will continue to evolve.
How did you found the company, and where is the company now?
1SEO Digital Agency is a full-service technology company that offers digital marketing, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, and app and website development services. We also offer managed IT services. When it comes to technology, we’re both a one-stop-shop and a true technology firm that can help grow an organization.
We work with small, mid-sized and large companies and help them grow their organizations through online marketing, conversion funnels, and making sure they can capture all the data in order to remarket and incentivize clients to come back and invest more.
We’ve been around for 9 years.
Describe the early stages of SEO and where it stands now.
Around 8-10 years ago, there was no real SEO. Everything revolved around link acquisition and ranking as fast as possible. People still try this, and the system can still be tricked, but today, it’s more a matter of what we call link earning and credibility. Linking is still the number one factor for the relevancy of a search entry, which is the main concept of SEO.
The new SEO paradigm is defined by creating good content and site architecture, along with messaging, branding, and communication with the audience. The goal is to be present in the micro-moment when someone is looking for a company’s services or products, and making sure that we’re answering that query or question, which ultimately makes you more brand-relevant than the competition.
What role will A.I. continue to play in search?
So much of our AI now has become machine-learning. Take for example Google's RankBrain. RankBrain is a machine-learning system that actually evolves over time to continuously provide the best search results possible. Rather than the basis of the algorithms running through a checklist of "rules" put in place by engineers, RankBrain works with the pre-existing algorithms to determine on its own what pages should be found relevant for different queries.
These technological advances will play a significant role in how SEO operates. For example, one of the easiest ways to optimize for RankBrain is to write quality content for your users. Spend time providing unique and helpful content for your end users and let Google's machine-learning technology do some of the leg work.
Instead of a computer being told what to think, AI is coming up with its own thinking. Artificial intelligence allows us to use audience demographics and search histories---their past and their preferences – to bring similar people to a business.
Discuss the “Internet of Things” and the future of personalization in search.
I think that IoT is on the same level as AI. They will almost become one and the same, with many of the regular devices like phones and wearables becoming linked into one system. It will then become much easier for Google to understand what someone is looking for. Everyone else will make a push to keep people on their own platforms. Facebook is now delivering ads inside of Messenger so that, when people communicate, they will see ads relevant to their discussion, which will contribute to the conversion process.
In the next 5 years, IoT will become one big connection between homes, vehicles and mobile devices, and marketers will have to start thinking about not just about user intent, but what they want back from that intent. We will see many more advertising platforms, including app and push ads, which will open up opportunities to collect data to re-advertise for businesses.
Is voice search the real deal? Do you think there are plans to monetize voice home devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo?
I think that voice search is growing. The average person types out 40 words per minute, while the average voice communication is the equivalent of 150 words. As voice search keeps getting better on the Alexa and Google Home, along with additional integrations with people’s phones and even glasses, voice search will become the future for everyone.
The problem I see is that we’re used to options on Google or Amazon search results. Voice, for the last few years, has only been able to retrieve one dataset per query: you ask something, and it comes back with an answer. This is fine if someone asks about the weather or about a song’s writer, but, if they are looking for a plumber, and HVAC person or a lawyer, users need more than one option. For publishers, this requires a pay-to-play bidding system for pulling back that data. A true case-in-point was when Alexa was given a screen for the device, so that users could have options given to them. Not everyone wants to be given only one option, and when they figure that out, we’ll start to see voice search take off.
How will businesses need to evolve to stay in front of micro-moments?
There is no doubt that there is a fundamental shift in the way people consume media and navigate the internet. With SEO, we can't just focus on optimizing for the traditional, planned search anymore. We also need to capitalize on intent-driven moments of decision-making, especially with local search.
One of the best ways to do this is to define and map out all of the various ways users can look for your product or service in these micro-moments—really drill down and cover every keyword modifier that searchers might use on a path to a conversion. Next, organize and prioritize these pathways based on ROI. Another seriously overlooked aspect of micro-moments is page speed. You can have the best information on your website but if it takes too long to load, no one will stick around to see it.
Micro-moments will become bigger and bigger as digital marketers break everything into a micro-moments in the process of searching for a company’s services or products, such as the most common questions people ask a business and the research users do before their search.
What role will featured and rich snippets and direct answers play in search?
Rich snippets are designed to help search engines better understand what information is on a particular webpage. This is done through structure data markup on the back-end of the page. Even though snippets don't play a direct role in rankings, they can work wonders on a website's click through rate. Optimizing with rich snippets provides another layer of insight about your site to searchers.
Feature snippets, in particular, along with FAQs, will start playing a bigger role. In general, snippets and direct answers are appearing more and more for search results, as Google is trying to provide more answers in order to keep people on their platforms. Every time a person clicks through something, they will be off of Google and onto someone else’s website. Google is trying to answer people’s queries with good content and information. Thus, the better the content, the better chance a site has of becoming relevant, and of people going to it to buy products or obtain services.
How will these trends affect your client work? What actions will you take to stay ahead?
Within our company, we’re staying on top of every new piece of technology, and are making sure that each of our clients are implementing them into their campaigns to ensure they have success today, tomorrow, or whenever new tech comes down the road.
Proximity marketing is one form of marketing that has really been on the rise. We have a very prominent retail client with over 15 locations where we have installed and have been managing beacons for their proximity marketing. Through this form of marketing we have been able to push notifications to user's mobile devices throughout the malls about various promotions and sales our client is having. This has served to be incredibly effective in not only driving relevant traffic back to their website but also by driving actual foot traffic to their locations.