The year was 1999, and I was just closing my first eBay store. The previous year I had sold my company for a profit, which I used to fund the purchase of my first eBay shop, Funky Junk. I had been an eBay seller for a while, having started my business in 1995, but up until that point, had only sold smaller items like books and records. I was still in the early stages of my internet marketing career, and Funky Junk was still a small part of my business. In fact, I had just started an affiliate marketing program with a company called ClickBank, which I used to promote my products. I had never heard of blogging, let alone marketing via social media, and certainly didn’t know how important search engine optimization (SEO) would become, which I learned a lot from.
Now, more than 15 years later, I’d say I’m well ahead of the game, and if you’re reading this you’re probably wondering what took me so long to get started. To give you a good idea of how much SEO has changed in the last 15 years, let’s take a quick look at the differences between SEO in 2004 and SEO in 2019.
Keywords, Keywords, Keywords
Back in the day, you wouldn’t always need to include multiple keywords in your content to have it searchable. You’d simply type in your product or service, and BAM, you’d get a list of websites that you could use for reference. Today, having multiple keywords in your content is almost essential if you want your content to be found. You must have at least one keyword in your headline, one in your description, and one in each of the individual pages if you’ve got more than one. If you don’t, you’re losing out on a lot of potential traffic. Imagine if your product, Funky Junk, had been registered as a trademark and you’d been using the terms “funky” and “junk” as keywords, you’d have seen a massive drop in your search rankings. Because there’s a lot of competition with trademarked keywords, you’d have to work hard to get those precious rankings back. In the meantime, you could be losing sales.
Old SEO, New SEO
Back in the day, Google rankings were enough. You wouldn’t always need to have the number one ranking to have a successful online store. In fact, in some cases, getting to the second spot in Google was more than enough to make a sale. These days, a good Google ranking is great, but it no longer guarantees you’ll make a sale. In 2019, consumers have grown less trusting of Google and its rankings, as evidenced by the fact that 68% of people look for products online, compared to 61% in 2013.
Another important factor that has changed is the way consumers interact with brands online. Back in the day, when a user performed a search and saw multiple results, they would click on the first few results, assuming that these websites would be the most relevant to their needs. While still quite a common occurrence, these days, the top results for a search often have nothing to do with the original search query. As a result, the brand must work twice as hard to earn those coveted clicks.
The Algorithm Changes & How to Adjust
If we’re talking about SEO, we can’t talk about 2019 without mentioning the algorithm updates that dramatically altered the way search works. In 2019, Google made two major algorithm changes that affected every business, large or small. The first was the switch from an algorithm that focused on links to one that takes into account quality and content.
While content is still key, Google’s new algorithm prioritizes quality over quantity, resulting in higher-quality results.
The second major algorithm change was the shift from desktop only to mobile-first indexing. Essentially, this means that Googlebot will now visit websites initially via a smartphone, before moving on to a desktop computer.
These changes change the game for SEO. If you’re still relying on links to drive traffic to your site, you’ll need to adjust your strategy. Fortunately, there are still plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs to thrive in the digital marketing industry. If you’re curious about how to adjust your strategy to work with the new algorithm, read on. Otherwise, keep reading for some fascinating trends that will help you grow your business in the years to come.
Trends to Keep An Eye On
In the past couple of years, we’ve seen a major shift in the way people interact with brands and products online. More people are relying on mobile devices and social media to discover products, compare prices, and make purchases. As a result, businesses should be taking a hard look at their strategy and planning for the future.
Let’s examine some of the major ways that people are searching for products online, and how you can use this information to your advantage:
In the year 2019, mobile search is king. Over 62% of all Google searches are now done on mobile devices, compared to just under 38% on desktop and laptop computers. Because of this, websites need to be optimized for mobile search, as 60% of all consumers shopping online have a mobile device in hand.
In 2020, mobile search will likely remain dominant. While desktop and laptop computers are still the preferred means for doing searches, the gap between mobile and desktop searches has closed, leaving mobile searches as the clear choice for both consumers and SEOs.
Because of this, if you’re not taking mobile search into consideration, you’re wasting a huge opportunity to convert those potential customers into actual buyers. You should be developing a mobile strategy now, whether you sell physical products or digital ones. To help you get started, here are some handy tips:
1. Create a mobile version of your website.
If you’ve never created a mobile version of your site or app, it can be a daunting task. Luckily, there are tools like Google’s responsive web design tool, which makes creating mobile versions a cinch. All you need to do is fill in your typical website information, and Google will walk you through the process. Once you’ve got a mobile version of your site, you can load it up with your products and start selling.
2. Find out where your audience is.
If you don’t know where your audience is, you can’t effectively market to them. Luckily, it’s incredibly easy to find out where your audience is and what they want. Simply enter a URL for your website or app in a search engine, and you’ll see the top results, usually shown as organic (non-paid) search results. These are the results people are actually looking for, as opposed to the sponsored or paid results at the top of the page.
When you enter a URL into a search engine, you’ll see three lines of results, the first two of which are typically paid results, with the third, which includes the most relevant and popular results, being the organic ones. Make sense? If you enter the URL for your site or app into a search engine, you’ll see the three lines, with the middle one being the most relevant and popular results.
3. Look at the competition.
The best way to know what your audience wants is by examining the competition. How does your product or service differ from the products and services already offered by your competitors? What are their weaknesses, as well as their strengths?
With that information in hand, you can develop a clear picture of what successful marketing strategies, products, and pricing should be like. From there, you can craft the perfect product to satisfy your audience’s needs. In addition to this, looking at the competition also gives you a clear idea of whether or not your product will be in demand.
4. Generate interest.
Have you ever read a review about a product or service and felt like it was just too good to be true? That’s exactly how consumers feel about a lot of online products today. The online reviews that consumers read don’t always match the reality of the product or service, which means that sometimes, the hype around a product or service is greater than the product itself. That’s why it’s so important to generate interest in your product or service, via marketing, before you start selling.
In conclusion, you must have content. No, we don’t need to shout it from the rooftops; you must have content. You must have enough content to make your website or blog stand out among the millions of websites on the internet.