Search is the consumer starting-point for most categories (and for most things) and the gateway to almost all online content.
As such, the marketing value of search data can’t be understated. It tells us what customers want, as well as the quality they’re getting back from brands. As results grow to be richer and more personalized, this level of insight is becoming more granular and even more constructive for marketers who know how to use it.
Today’s searchers expect to be able to summon answers whenever, wherever and however they like, but it hasn’t always been this way. Looking at some of the key milestones in the evolution of search, we can get insight into how we got to where we are now.
The marketing value of search data can’t be understated. It tells us what customers want, as well as the quality they’re getting back from brands
Search: A quick history
In the early 2000s, the purpose of SEO was simple: to connect users to information. This is when we saw the very beginnings of localized search results.
Up to 2011 and beyond, Google began to refine the search experience with universal search, which incorporated results from other sources like social media, video and images. There was more of a focus on delivering contextual results based on location, trends and historical data.
From then until recently, we saw a shift to personal and actionable search results. Algorithm changes emphasized quality, user-focused content and SEO evolved to be a key performance driver for businesses.
Now, search is ubiquitous, increasingly vertical and very topical.
SEO is still very much about maximizing the effectiveness of organic content to drive traffic and demand, but its role in the organization has expanded and so has the complexity of the marketer’s workload.
But with all the changes, ‘winning’ in search still comes down to the same thing: the ability to answer the right question at the right time and in the right format.
How SEO is used in the modern business
SEO methods and insights support strategy and decision making beyond website content.
Harnessing and using the data of SEO intelligence is a natural progression in the evolution of search. After all, SEO can tell us a lot about customer intent. For paid search, content, email and social marketers, knowing what the target audience wants makes it easier to tailor the product, service or message to them. For wider business goals, too, it’s essential.
A solid search strategy feeds into and affects all area of a business and its communications.
‘Winning’ in search still comes down to the same thing: the ability to answer the right question at the right time and in the right format
How to use SEO data and measure success
The primary indicators of an effective SEO strategy are traffic, rankings/visibility, engagement and conversions. These are the quantifiable results that show more users are visiting your site and liking what they see.
The secondary indicator of success is increased efficiencies across all other marketing channels.
Measuring the ROI of organic search is a challenge, but it’s possible to get an understanding of how you are performing and contributing to the wider marketing strategy if you have a solid measurement framework in place.
For SEO to be effective it needs to be efficient. Integrating disparate data sources and analyzing them in one centralised, area allows marketers to keep up with changes and respond accordingly – seeing trends as they’re developing rather than when they’re established.
This level of insight provides value at all levels and enables marketers to capitalize on the potential of the increasingly complex and granular SEO data we now have access to.
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