Globally, 39 percent of all traffic comes from search: 35 percent from organic and 4 percent from paid. That means that nearly 80 percent of search engine users are bypassing the advertisements to focus on organic search results.
Natural search has become the doorway to your site. That door can open any page. We as digital marketers don’t control the conversation anymore — not even on our own sites — because we can’t be sure how much of the message visitors will see throughout their visit.
Natural search has become the doorway to your site.
Sites were once developed so that visitors would land on the home page and follow a prescribed path with tailored messaging along that path to a specific destination where they could convert. With the prevalence of search as a primary traffic generator, however, we need instead to infuse all messages into our search engine optimization work.
SEO and UX
Consider user experience, for example. It is now closely intertwined with search. Successful SEO relies on optimal architecture and taxonomy to ensure that the pages hold the content themes required to rank, and to ensure that the links between these pages flow the optimal amount of authority to the most important pages.
But it also works in reverse. User experience also needs SEO. Search provides an indicator on the specific desires that searchers have — which products they want to buy and what information they want to understand. That data, harvested from keyword research and analytics tools, guides the formation of the taxonomy and the page naming conventions, thus enabling fewer rounds of expensive and time-consuming testing.
Think of it this way: If 39 percent of your audience is going to engage with your content via search, you must ensure that your digital experience is optimally suited for those searchers.
Thus SEO needs to be carefully managed every day. Without constant tracking, planning, and optimization to keep it headed in the right direction — and to spot problems — natural search performance can quickly collapse, especially with always-evolving algorithms.
Google fields 95 percent of all of the search queries — 67,000 every second. Fifteen percent of those are new queries that have never been seen by Google before. Google alone has released more than 80 major algorithm updates since 2012. It releases minor tweaks at an average of two per day.
Today’s sites have massive amounts of content and interactive elements, driven by multiple teams that likely work in silos across the organization. Your IT team periodically updates the site. Your marketing team is working on campaigns and editorial elements. Your merchandising team is rolling out new products to sell. Your content team is posting new articles and videos. All of that impacts the site’s organic search performance.
Today’s sites have massive amounts of content and interactive elements, driven by multiple teams …
The SEO team must interact with all of those teams and release schedules, to ensure that organic search considerations are integrated from the start. This will increase the likelihood of a positive search performance and decrease the reaction time if the performance is less than positive.
To be sure, SEO is not the only consideration. Other disciplines and channels should not bow to every SEO whim. But they do need to work together, though, so that one area doesn’t cancel out the others.
An ideal SEO solution may mean reworking a handful of product attributes on an ecommerce site to organize those items by trend, such as athletic shirts versus Hawaiian. The ripple effect on that SEO project would be enormous, impacting IT, user experience, design, operations, merchandising, copywriting, and necessitating the retagging of every product on the site. Nonetheless, it would be very helpful for SEO.
The Biggest Channel
The bottom line is that natural search is, or could be, your biggest marketing channel. It’s volatile unless managed carefully. Unpredictable changes in algorithms, searcher trends, and your own site make SEO complex. Give it the resources it needs to grow and remain healthy, and it will repay you.