Stop us if you’ve heard this before: search engine optimization (SEO) is really important. To some marketers, it’s the be-all, end-all of digital marketing. To others, it’s part and parcel of a more comprehensive marketing program. Regardless of which side of the fence you fall, we can all agree that a well-executed SEO strategy will make it easier for prospective customers and partners to find your business.
This isn’t a life-altering revelation or something you’ve not heard before. But as search engines tinker with their algorithms and consumers wade through increasing amounts of noise and clutter in their daily online lives, businesses will continually find it more difficult to stand out in the crowd.
Since it’s our mission to make information easier to find over virtually any device or platform through our AI-powered natural language processing (NLP) technologies, we thought there has to be an obvious tie-in to SEO. So, to explore how technologies like intelligent semantic search and long-tail SEO crawlers (searches with 4-5 words, “long-tail,” account for roughly 80% of all search requests) might factor into the future of SEO practices, we enlisted the help of leading SEO and content marketing agency Volume Nine.
The Volume Nine SEO team sat down with us to take a deeper look at the nuts and bolts of today’s SEO landscape and project how smart technologies will impact digital marketing strategies in the future. Here’s a bit of our Q&A exchange:
Inbenta (IB): What are the most important factors that you consider the pillars of SEO?
Volume Nine (V9): There are several pillars, but the critical piece is that SEO should be integrated with a company’s digital marketing strategy and tactics. Simply put, your SEO has to know what’s going on with your other marketing efforts. That comes from having a strong technical foundation and thoughtful user experience (UX) design, along with mobile friendliness.
Of course, content still reigns supreme, so offering compelling, valuable, and robust content written for users should be a primary objective for any team. Over time, you’ll build the authority, trust, and inbound links that will sustain higher ranking search results.
IB: As search engines evolve their algorithms, what role does long-tail SEO play in a company’s SEO practices?
V9: Long tail strategies can help bring traffic to a website in a highly competitive market. Smaller companies can determine what makes their product or service unique, and have a chance to win against bigger companies with long-tail keyword targets.
As long-tail and semantic search results become more accurate, sites should seek to provide answers and solutions to the specific queries that users are interested in by focusing more on user intent than on stacking and stuffing keywords everywhere. Users will continue to get better at asking for what they need and, over time, search engines will get better at interpreting those needs–so you should be ready to address those searches with great content on your site.
IB: Since intelligent search understands meaning/context even in complex searches (full sentences, ambiguity, misspellings), how might a firm employ that strategy in their SEO efforts?
V9: It all starts with focusing more on user intent than conventional keyword strategies. Businesses need to shift their mentality away from writing in terms of keywords/search engines and toward writing naturally for humans. Be thoughtful about the words and phrases your target market may use to explain a topic, solution, product and build your content accordingly.
IB: What needs to happen–either technologically or in the marketplace–to make intelligent search a more prominent, more plausible component to SEO practice?
V9: Technically speaking, companies should make sure their header tags are correct and that their site is visually broken up in a way that makes it more scannable for people and crawlers. On the backend, you’d have to accumulate a lot of data to monitor and evolve your information to accommodate regional and language differences, which would require automated mapping and some human editorial guidance*.
At the same time, semantic search or intelligent search is often just another term for natural content. So, businesses should make sure to still be aware of keywords but focus on writing and building content for a human audience, not machines. Frankly, this should have been in practice on the SEO side from the very beginning and hopefully, it will continue moving in that direction in the future.
IB: Any parting thoughts or pearls of wisdom to share?
V9: It’s imperative for content producers to really understand the difference between intent and context, and how they’re related. Intent comes from the user when they state exactly what they’re looking for. Context is everything that surrounds that search to give it meaning and generate results.
Google and other search engines connect these two concepts to understand different queries and generate the most relevant response for semantic search. The takeaway: SEO isn’t just keywords anymore!
About Volume Nine
Volume Nine is a digital marketing company located in Denver, Colorado specializing in search engine optimization (SEO), analytics, content marketing & social media marketing. Currently employing over 30 employees dedicated to serving the Internet Marketing needs of their clients, they view every client relationship as a partnership between companies.
* Inbenta’s Backstage Analytics platform offers both automated mapping and assisted learning capabilities.
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