Searching is one of the main ways that people navigate the internet, and if you’re a website owner you want to be front and centre for any related searches your customers might make.
In their range of different forms, advertising and marketing are about gaining attention – you want to be where people are looking, where they interact, so search is definitely the first place you want to focus. It’s a key route to customer for many products and services.
SEO (search engine optimisation) is all about trying to make your clients as visible as possible without having to pay for that publicity. It’s not just about creating content or ranking first in search terms specific to a product; you need to look at topics related to that product, within that purchase process, and try to be visible there too. It’s about building an overall brand awareness.
SEO vs PPC
There are two types of search engine marketing: PPC (pay per click) and SEO. The differences between the two – paid and organic – are becoming a lot less clear visually, as Google want to show search results without people seeing they’ve been paid for. There are lines they cannot cross, but they want to make it as ambiguous as possible.
Historically, people would try to find an organic listing over a paid-for listing, because they know it is based on the quality of the website as opposed to whoever pays the most. That is changing as Google shows more of their own results (e.g. shopping, answer boxes, location packs), taking up more space on the search page and potentially meaning less clicks for organic results. If anything, this means that SEO is more important, because it’s increasing in competitiveness.
How search might change
Google may not keep its monopoly: There are signs that Apple may try and muscle in on Google’s control of the search industry; we’ve seen their ‘bots’ crawling websites more frequently and they’ve updated their own documentation on how they rank content within their own search tools. They may try to capitalise on the current backlash against misuse of private data to release their own search engine focused on user privacy.
The internet is moving to platforms: the way people use the internet is changing rapidly, there’s a chance that over time less people will interact with traditional ‘websites’ and move to app based platforms, e.g. Instagram/Tik Tok, to access online content. In regards to ecommerce, Amazon is already the biggest ‘product’ search engine, so it will be interesting to see how Google adapt to this in the future.
Try if for Yourself
Although this is a tech-centred industry, you don’t have to be a computer programmer or a coder to succeed. You just need an understanding of how websites work and how search engines like Google access the content.
A lot of it is about having a passion for the web and how search engines work. One of the best ways to do that is to set up your own website and do your own digital marketing, both SEO and PPC. That experience really stands out on a CV and is one of the best ways you can get into a digital career.
Steve Walker is a Director with Journey Further SEO, a performance marketing agency whose clients include Sports Direct, Oddbox and Evans Cycles.