The web has completely transformed the modern commercial landscape giving companies of all sizes the chance to reach out to new markets and find fresh customers locally, nationally, and even internationally. From websites to social media, e-commerce to online marketing campaigns, it’s now easier than ever for firms to expand their operations and grow their digital presence.
However, in a world where there are now more web pages than people, the competition online has become fierce as firms compete for a position in this new global marketplace. With search engines now used as the start point for around 71% of all consumer journeys, it’s become more important than ever for sites to feature high in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
The Google effect
Google is estimated to account for approximately 92% of all online searches – and it also happens to be the world’s most popular website, closely followed by YouTube (which is also owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet). Consequently, if a business is to stand any chance online, the site owners must ensure their site features within Google’s results – and ideally on the first page.
Recent studies have shown that the top five generic search results on Google account for 67.6% of all clicks (i.e., traffic to sites). The days of paper-based directories like Yellow Pages are long gone – these days, the web is the port of call and starting point for pretty much everything people buy or research – and Google is the engine of choice for most users.
How Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps rankings
The term Search Engine Optimization (SEO) describes the highly complex and involved task of ensuring websites rank higher in the popular search engines to drive more traffic. As Google accounts for such a huge chunk of online searches, when specialists refer to SEO, they’re really mostly talking about optimizing pages to rank on Google.
SEO can encompass anything from tagging images with descriptions (to help Google understand what the image is) to generating inward links to pages from trusted, high-ranked sites. The process is incredibly detailed and requires the work of a specialist SEO and web marketing firm to stand any chance of achieving results.
From tailoring well-written content (Google’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) spiders try to read pages like a human these days) to optimizing load times and reducing image sizes, SEO is not an area where most people will succeed without specialist knowledge and training. Sure, there are some aspects that amateurs could attempt themselves (e.g., setting up social media pages to link to their main site), but, even then, without compelling, targeted posts, the work will fall well short of the mark required to rank higher up Google.
In truth, in today’s cut-throat, highly competitive digital landscape, for firms to survive and thrive online, they need to invest in web marketing and SEO by pulling in expert help.
The importance of quality content
Without exception, the world’s most popular websites attract traffic by offering quality content – or, in some cases like Google, by giving excellent service. Visitors simply won’t return to a site unless they receive something of value from it – anything from informative articles to engaging video footage.
One needs only look at the global site rankings tables to see the importance of content when it comes to driving traffic. As mentioned earlier, Google and YouTube occupy the one and two spots respectively but are closely followed by other titan web services like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that make up the top five. In each case, these sites offer a hook to users in the form of high-quality, entertaining content to keep visitors returning. Other sites in the top ten include the reference site, Wikipedia, news service, Yahoo, and the adult site, XVideos.com.
The future for search engines
In many ways, a transformation in terms of how search engines of the future might work is already being witnessed. With the considerable advances being made in Artificial Intelligence (AI), all the major search platforms are turning to the tech to generate better, more accurate results, and this is one trend that will continue to grow in importance.
However, AI isn’t just limited to scanning text-based content – rather, there’s an emerging growth in using AI-powered image searches. There’s little doubt the use of this technology will expand in the coming years – particularly in the e-com arena where it can quickly allow customers to find products with ease.
Another change that is well underway is the ability for users to search social media posts by keyword. Sites like Instagram are already becoming a popular alternative to the smaller search engines like Bing. As we generate more and more content (it’s estimated the world already produces around 2.5 quintillion bytes per day, much of it on social platforms), the use of these sites for search will continue to grow.