It is now widely accepted that SEO is no longer about manipulating the system, but rather it’s about legitimately building your brand. One of the consequences of this shift has been a sudden focus on what marketers term future proofing; as opposed to concentrating on short term tactics that achieve fast results (what SEO had traditionally been about) the emphasis has moved onto predicting what Google will consider to be important brand signals in 5 years from now.
Of course the reality is that nobody knows what Google will consider important in 5 years from now. Not even Google. But as long as this exercise is approached with the general mindset “What will Google believe users will benefit from most…” then the impact can only be a positive one. So here are my 5 highly speculative predictions for what Google will have incorporated into its algorithm by 2019:
- Awards, certifications and qualifcations – if I’m choosing a company to contact online, I’m not interested in how many backlinks they have or what their click through rate or engagement stats look like, I’m interested in the quality of service I’ll receive and the results I can expect. Will Google find a way of recording the qualifications, certifications and awards of both the company and its employees? It wouldn’t be hard; presumably it would just place the onus onto the businesses themselves to populate all the relevant data, as we currently have to with likes of Google Places?
- Movement of android devices and Google Glass – in the same way that Google monitors the way traffic interacts with websites to determine the quality of the content and the user experience, is there any reason why they could not use the physical movement of android devices in the real world of high street shops to see which brands are offering the best real world experience? Likewise it could monitor the eye patterns of Google Glass’ers to draw further conclusions about offline brand relationships.
- Company finance information – people like to deal with businesses that are established and stable. Perhaps Google will use publically available company finance information to assess which brands offer the strongest business foundations for their customers?
- Frequency and context of brand mentions within Google devices and applications – in SEO we are always looking for ways to boost the volume of citations and links for our brands across web pages, but why stop there? Is there any reason to think Google wouldn’t use the citation and link data from emails, texts and other messaging services as indicators of brand prominence?
- Enquiry response rate – there is nothing more frustrating than enquiring to a company online, only to be ignored. As more and more companies use call extensions for call tracking (admittedly this only applies to adwords for now), will there come a day where Google monitors the responsiveness of brands to new enquiries before deciding which companies deserve those enquiries in the first place?
Right now there is a big focus on content marketing, but to me that still feel like we’re focusing on the symptoms of a great brand (links, engagement, reviews) rather than the true underlying causes of a great brand (service, delivery, communication). It may be that Google themselves will only ever be able to focus on the symptoms, but my advice would be to assume that one day they will get to the root cause. If nothing else, you’ll have much happier customers.