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Understand What SEO in 2017 Means for the SEO Expert

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As the New Year begins, we can appreciate that search engine optimization/marketing and content marketing have come closer to being the same thing. With more than 80 percent of all marketers admitting to using content marketing as part of their online strategy, businesses that are still lagging behind may just be kicked off the curb this year.

Businesses are aggressively pursuing SEO and content marketing, devoting more funds towards content marketing this year. However, good content means nothing unless it can be found and leveraged for increase in conversions and revenues.

Use search to open up opportunities

According to research, over half of all traffic to most websites comes from organic search query pages. Paid search additionally contributes at least 10 percent of traffic. This means that at least 60 percent of all traffic is a result of your position in SERPs, whether paid or organic. Although organic search is the main traffic driver, it would be unwise to discount the importance of paid advertising through PPC. As of now, Google is working into increasing the prominence of paid ads in their SERPs. Today, at least four ads are shown before organic results are listed. This, in some cases, pushes organic results significantly below the fold.

As the year wears on, we may see even more changes for PPC. There are now discussions about introducing one paid result in the three local search results shown, meaning it will now play a part in local search for many businesses. The real truth is that paid search campaigns must be carried out together with organic search in order to build a strong online marketing strategy.

Consider also that today’s consumer is exposed to multiple channels through which they interact with businesses, products and brands differently. Variety also drives their search for content. Brands that will succeed this year are those that will learn to bring together paid and organic search campaigns, and use them to build engagement and meaningful relationships with their consumers.

How to deal with fragmented consumer journeys

Additionally, SEO experts should appreciate that consumers’ buying cycles are now heavily fragmented. In past years it was easy to create a linear journey from the time a consumer discovers they have a need to when they make a purchase.

Due to the proliferation of digital technologies in our lives, this journey has been broken down into multiple touch points popularly referred to as micro-moments based on user intent – knowing, going, buying and doing. These moments may be experienced in any order and at any time depending on the buyer’s intents. They also present four important touch-points where brands can direct their energies for relationship cultivation.

Google is working on understanding user intent and can change appearance of results depending on what micro-moment a user is thought to be on. This is why queries may be answered in images, videos, news, locations or rich displays among others. In order to optimize effectively for modern consumers, it is important for brands to seek to understand user intents and provide content that meets all intents so that the user’s needs are met at all points of their fragmented journey.

Modern consumer journeys are characterized by convergence of local search, mobile search, paid search and content. Their expectations change by the minute and brands should shift their strategies accordingly. However, the importance of search remains clear even amid the moment-by-moment changes.

Improve internal SEO practices

Growing the value of organic search in your organization is only possible if you work to evangelize its importance in all your departments at all levels. In order to succeed at SEO in 2017, you must have brazen and unfaltering support from those in the top-most positions in your organization.

In addition, those in departments other than marketing will need to be educated on basic SEO practices, so that these principles can be included early in their work. This reduces the amount of work to be done by actual SEOs, and ensures that your brand is spreading a consistent marketing message at any point it is encountered by prospective consumers and your target audience. By doing this, you’ll end up with an all-inclusive, mature and effective optimization strategy that will give you returns you’d only ever dreamed of.