The consumer journey is rapidly becoming more important in search. Users look for ways to solve issues, complete tasks, and “do” things.
In 2009, Bill Gates delivered a lecture at a private dinner in which he famously stated, “The future of search is verbs.”
Gates was not referring to the words people type into search engines. Instead, he was discussing why people seek.
Before we can comprehend why search is vital, we must first understand why people search.
Why People Search
People used to search for a list of documents that contained the words they entered in. That is no longer true.
Today’s searchers want to solve issues, complete tasks, and “do” something.
They could be looking to book a flight, buy something, learn the latest Taylor Swift lyrics, or browse kitten pics – but all of these are activities. Or, as Gates called them, verbs.
When a person begins a search, they are actually embarking on a trip. Marketers are fond of discussing the “customer journey.”
It’s merely a fancy way of referring to a user’s journey from task genesis to task completion – and the majority of these trips begin with a search.
Over the last decade, the consumer journey has been increasingly important in search.
This classic consumer path, originally depicted as a funnel in which people progress from awareness to contemplation to purchase, has become obsolete (although we still use this model for illustrative purposes and to make persona research easier).
The Evolution of Search & the Consumer Journey
The modern consumer journey resembles a crazy straw, with many twists and turns indicating the various channels, mediums, and devices that people connect with today.
To suit this new model, search has to grow from just displaying words on a website to comprehending the user’s intent at each stage of the trip.
Search is no longer simply about keywords, but about delivering the right material to the right user at the right time in their trip to assist them in completing their objective.
It’s all about the verbs for the users. It is all about assisting the user on their journey for search marketers (and, ideally, influencing them a bit along the way.)
Continuing with the crazy straw concept, today’s consumer journey does not take place on a single device.
Users may begin a search on a mobile device, continue their research on their tablet or work laptop, and finally make a purchase from their home desktop.
Search isn’t confined to computers or smartphones.
Users may now search from watches, smart glasses, Bluetooth speaker assistants, and even kitchen equipment.
In today’s world, even my fridge has its own Twitter account – and search marketers must be aware of how numerous gadgets interact with one another and influence a user’s search experience.
There is some legitimate debate about whether this has always been the case, but in today’s always-on, hyper-connected world, SEO has evolved into what we will refer to as “true marketing.”
Hacks, trickery, and attempts to reverse-engineer algorithms are no longer acceptable.
Today’s SEO is concerned with:
- Personas must be understood.
- Insights based on data
- Strategy for content.
- Problem-solving on a technical level.
The 3 Main Tenets of Any Marketing Strategy or Campaign
All three of these areas are touched by search:
However, search focuses largely on the first phase: attract.
“If you build it, they will come” may be true for baseball fields, but it is not true for websites.
It is no longer sufficient to have a fantastic product. You must aggressively seek clients through a variety of channels and outlets.
This is why, despite client or design agency assertions to the contrary, every webpage is an SEO page.
If a webpage is involved in attracting, engaging, or converting visitors, it should include an essential SEO component.
Why Is SEO Important?
OK, users, journey, search, and verbs – you’ve got it.
Users are crucial, and many of them begin with a search, thus search is crucial.
But what is the significance of SEO?
Isn’t SEO mainly for developers?
It was mentioned that there existed a plugin for it.
Why can’t Google and Microsoft Bing recognise my website?
We began this narrative with a remark from Bill Gates, but it was Google, not Microsoft, that took the philosophy to heart.
Hummingbird, Panda, Penguin, RankBrain, Mobilegeddon, Possum, Pigeon, entities, and AMP are all attempts by Google to adjust its search algorithm to shift from words to actions – and help users achieve whatever objectives they may be focusing on – but they aren’t that simple to grasp.
SEO has progressed a long way from the days of metadata.
Sure, there are a lot of best practises that “should” be handled by the development team or a plugin (or incorporated into a framework *cough cough* angular, react, I’m looking at you) – but they aren’t always.
Today’s websites are more like applications than websites, and applications have a lot of fancy features that don’t always play well with search engines (hi again, angular and react.)
Good SEO Today
A good SEO will not just focus on content but will also:
- Navigate through several versions of the same page.
- Resolve technical flaws that cause material to be invisible to search engines.
- With the right server configuration.
- Integrate with social media, content, creative, UX, paid search, or analytics.
- Look for ways to improve the speed of your website.
A smart SEO specialist understands not only the searcher but also the competitive landscape. Understanding the user’s task isn’t enough. Search marketers must understand what other options are available in the market and how they may fill the gap in order to provide a better solution for the user’s task.
From keywords on sites to full-service marketing, we’ve gone a long way. SEO professionals get to wear many hats as they connect development, information architecture, user experience, content strategy, marketing, social media, and paid media teams. It’s a game of give and take, all in the sake of making something that works for both search engines and users.
There are numerous cautionary tales about seemingly easy things like a site makeover or new CMS system causing visitors to plummet or evaporate, leaving firms scrambling.
The simple fact is that most website updates these days have an impact on SEO – and only by adding SEO at the outset and throughout the project can a company hope to achieve favorable outcomes.
So Why Is Search Important?
Search is important because users are important.
As technology advances, SEO practitioners will face new means of searching, new devices to search on, and new types of searches (such as voice search or searches done by my oven), but one constant will be why people search. The verbs aren’t going anywhere.
We may one day be overrun by AI or transfer our mind into the singularity, but in the meanwhile, we will need to solve problems and complete tasks, and some sort of search will always be involved.