After 25 years of online activity, it’s hard to imagine a world without search engine optimisation. Since the new millennium, SEO gurus and platforms like Kissmetrics have become vital tools for any business with an online presence. No self-respecting entrepreneur or marketing manager can get by without a basic understanding of Google Analytics, or an appreciation of the relationship between SEO and social media.
Like a world without search engines, a life without SEO would be filled with uncertainty:
People wouldn’t understand why competitor websites performed better in search results than their own platforms.
After all, search engines would still have to order their results based on the perceived relevance of particular destinations. It’d be frustrating if small business owners or IT managers couldn’t tell why a rival website consistently appeared at the top of search results. It would also be confusing if a direct competitor suddenly improved its ranking performance. And it’d be downright worrying if a site began to rank less effectively due to unknown changes in the search engine algorithms.
It’d be difficult to revise a website to improve its ranking.
Following on from the last point, search engines consider numerous attributes when ranking websites. These range from their age and frequency of updates to the volume (and quality) of inbound or outbound links. SEO gurus rely on behavioural analytics packages like Moz and Kissmetrics to identify possible areas of improvement. But in a world without SEO, nobody would know in which areas a particular site was falling down…
There’d be no way of telling which terms potential customers were searching for.
Another key area of focus for SEO professionals involves identifying keywords and long tails – search phrases containing three or more words. These reveal the precise terms consumers are searching for, helping ensure that web copy and social media updates target the right phrases. Otherwise, populating a website would involve flailing around trying to come up with relevant content, without knowing whether the results were targeting suitable audiences or using the right language.
Nobody would know why formerly effective techniques no longer worked.
Certain tricks and techniques were successful once upon a time, yet now they’re either ineffective or actively damaging to a website’s performance. Examples include hyperlinked anchor text, excessive use of keywords, and paying overseas link farms for inbound traffic. Without an SEO guru (or an authoritative resource like the UK2 blog!), persisting with techniques no longer approved by Google and Bing could severely damage a website’s reputation.
Fortunately, SEO is very much present and correct. It may have been the reason you arrived on this page, since this article contains the phrase “SEO guru” five times. It determines patterns of behaviour, with predictive search results guiding people down preordained content paths. And it remains crucial for establishing a running order in search rankings – the basis of search engine optimisation, and the most common way new audiences find websites.