It’s Not About SEO Anymore

If you are an SEO specialist or a business owner, this article will be of special interest to you. If you know someone who is doing SEO or struggling with getting their SEO done right, discuss this article with them.

It’s not about SEO anymore, and if you still don’t get it, then it’s been negatively impacting your organization. Seriously, how can you optimize for Search Engines today, if Search Engines themselves don’t understand what they are doing to the full extent?

Silently, the world of marketing changed again, and many of us have not realized this fact yet.

You might have heard of RankBrain. RankBrain is an artificial intelligence (AI) program used to help process Google search queries (source). Google introduced RankBrain about 2 years ago. Since then, a certain part of Google Search results has been powered by neural networks. It was about 15% of all searches back then, but how many searches are processed by Google’s neural networks now?

The way neural networks operate is that you feed some input data into them, and they output the results that are highly accurate. Neural networks are just computer programs based on mathematical models, and they have been around for half a century. But the funny thing is, even their creators themselves don’t know exactly what’s going on “under the hood”.

I started my SEO journey about 9 years ago when the number of links pointing to your website mattered and their quality did not. For many of us, SEO was all about using the right tools to get our clients X amount of links to push their websites higher in search results. Then, in 2012, I learned from Bruce Clay that besides 200+ ranking factors there are certain weights assigned to each factor, and these weights change from time to time with the updates of Google’s algorithms. Last year I signed up for a Machine Learning class at Udacity, co-created with Google. I just wanted to figure out what’s going on.

I built a machine learning model and trained it on Google search results, only to discover that it is highly unlikely to predict the position of a web page in Google search results, based on its attributes (i.e. ranking factors).

I realized that the battle is lost and but not the war. So I made my next decision. I picked up a list of the best 30+ books on marketing and set a goal to read all of them by the end of this year.

So, if it’s not about SEO anymore, then what did SEO transform into?

Today, it’s all about the customer. As it has actually always been. In some sense, the cycle is over, and we are going back to the roots and the core principles of the traditional marketing.

What can you do today to embrace this change and ride with it?

  1. Get your SEO foundation done right. Make sure your technical SEO is flawless, and that you have covered all the basics.
  2. Realize that SEO today is a team sport that is densely interconnected with the efforts of other marketing channels. Use creativity and learn to collaborate with other departments of your organization, so that they could assist you and you could assist them.
  3. In order to do that, set up “the central repository” and the necessary business processes so that different team members and departments of your organization could have real time access to the information shared by other teams.
  4. Rediscover your customers. Learn who they are, what their true needs are, what their online and offline behavior looks like, what motivates them, and why they buy from you.
  5. Strengthen the relationships with your customers. Surprise them. Entertain them. Make them feel that by doing business with your company, they become a part of a large family.
  6. Be different. There are other businesses like yours, selling similar products or providing the same kind of services. Figure out what is unique about your business in particular and make this knowledge public. Stand out. Use the resources that you already have.

How about your organization – what impact has this change made on your business?


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