search engine optimization

Search Engine Optimization: Evolution, Trends, and the Future

8 Comments 01 June 2009

Image courtesy of bionicteaching

Image courtesy of bionicteaching

What is the future of Search Engine Optimization? I am not a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, or even very knowledgeable about how to optimize websites, but I know that SEO is critical to the success of any web-based site. That is why I’m live blogging Affilicon Israel 2009 and listening to a panel discussion about the future of SEO  technology.

Do you want people to find your site on the web? Will your organization be able to help more people if more online visitors found your site? Do you want to be the first name to appear when possible stakeholders (clients, customers, funders, collaborators) search for businesses in your industry or geographic area? If you do, then your organization should utilize SEO to raise your company’s organic search rankings in a Google search. Effective SEO can do that.

Here are the comments from the panel I attended today at Affilicon Israel 2009 about SEO (presentation by Elroy Buckman, K Logic):

PPC (pay per click) technologies have evolved from: tools for keyword list generations (rules-based for bidding on keywords) and has evolved into Portfolio Management (don’t look at single keywords, but look at the portfolio of keywords instead to predict performance) and eventually evolved into comprehensive optimization platforms (multiple solutions to direct keywords campaigns include landing pages, creative bidding, etc). Thus we can see that PPC has evolved into multiple dimensions.

Current state of SEO:

  • dynamic and evolving
  • common SEO practices are a commodity (keywords, titles, text vs. flash, etc) and is not enough anymore to get great organic traffic
  • old artificial link-building practices are now questionable, and Google now detects artificial link building patterns quickly
  • Big brands have a higher ability to generate more traffic from SEO

Want to build effective SEO to measure real business impact, to find real Return on Investment (ROI) from discreet SEO investments, implement best practices across business development.

The future – a “killer” SEO application will be able to identify an alert for high and low-performing keywords, landing pages, internal lining schemes, new incoming links, title description..and their combinations.

In other words – the killer app will be PREDICTIVE and influence MANY DIMENTIONS.

“The ‘killer system’ will be a decision-making tool for optimizers/managers based on real data.”

Another panelist believes: the issue isn’t specific tools, but thinking about change. What has changed? The rankings, the SERPs, search engine popularity. What has not changed? The workflow, the principles. This is where you “win” the SEO game. Tools and gadgets don’t seem to be that effective to manage time – too much information. To “win” – you need to control time, workflow and monitoring tests. Then, choose a tool or create your own that does this.

Lots of talk about new tools that will work for you. Best tools give you concrete information that you can use and allow you to decide what to do with the information. Make sure the data is complete and not biased for some industries.

Thoughts on the future of Google algorithms and what may affect search rankings (from Branko Rihtman,

1. Landing pages need to load higher for a higher quality score – Google wants you to serve your users betters.

2. Personalized search (the check/x button next to google search results) – doesn’t affect general search engine results yet, but will customize the results you will see as a user in your Google account when you sign in. This is a hint of the future: integrating social search with organic search.

3. Bounce rate may affect Google organic traffic. If you have a high bounce rate for certain pages, you may be penalized by Google. Could be a hint that Google/search engines are looking at bounce rates.

4. Other behaviors on the website that are more interesting to search engines? On-site navigation paths, major exit pages, pages that are read more may have more valuable links, what is the position of the URL when it is clicked, queries with title correspondence, and all other user pattern information.

5. Google does a lot of academic research – so look at what they are researching now.

6. Look at sores by how users browse between pages – the links between pages.

How can we utilize this info? Test, test, test what users are doing on the website. Crazyegg, Google Website Optimizer, Clickdensity, Google Analytics, Yahoo! Web Analytics, ClickTale, and more.

Take advantage of other search engine products to build up your site. Example: using You Tube, Adwords, can help your Google rank.

Think that brand reputation is increasingly important. Google has started to increase rankings on big brands.

What did I take away from this?

  1. Build your website for the user – make it as user-friendly to navigate and try to keep your users on the site as long as possible. In the future, Google will place more value on user experiences onsite.
  2. Build your brand – this may also grow in importance for Google ranks.
  3. Hire a website optimizer that is looking at all your data (not biased to one industry), is thinking about the future of SEO, and is thinking about predictive technology.
  4. What I thought I knew about SEO (the “old way”) is now a commodity. Google is always looking for new ways to determine rank. Find someone who can advise you on the latest SEO trends.
  5. Begin by looking at your own website data from Google Analytics, Google Trends, Google Insight to get a sense of existing user patterns. Learn a little about how your users are using your site right now.



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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