Google is getting smarter. I caught an interview over the weekend with Ray Kurzweil, author, inventor and futurist who has been known to make accurate predictions about technology and where it’s headed. In this interview, he talked about concepts within his book, “How to Create a Mind” (which I’m putting on my wish list for the holidays, BTW).
Right now, Google might not be able to comprehend the content on a Web page in the human sense (hence the need for humans to tell Google what the page is about when we optimize it), but if Kurzweil’s predictions come true, it’s only a matter of time before Google can comprehend it.
Here’s Part 1 of the mind-bending interview if you want to catch a glimpse of Kurzweil’s insights:
Taking a step back from the future, SEO is evolving right now. Allow me to make the leap from Kurzweil and a smarter Google to how we look at marketing a website. Because ultimately, they are interconnected.
Right now, we are leaving the days behind where SEO means update a Meta tag here, get a link there – all for the sake of creating a “relevant” website Google can understand.
This of course is an oversimplification of the technical side of SEO, which is complicated and much needed at the moment. But the question is, at what point will some of these elements be obsolete as Google gets smarter? And at that point, what’s left to marketing a business online? These are some of the things we should be pondering now.
Today, we are already moving from those more granular tactics in SEO to a more holistic approach to marketing online. This is the natural progression of marketing in the digital age. And part of that is because Google is getting smarter, and as it evolves, our approach can evolve to meet it.
SEO Is Marketing … or at Least It Should Be Thought of That Way
In its most simple form, your website is the representation of your brand. Everything you do, including traditional SEO functions like optimizing pages, needs to take into account the brand, marketing and sales goals that are important to your business.
In SEO, this marketing fundamental starts as soon as you think about keyword research. For example, what products and services are important to the business that year, that quarter, that season? How can you architect the information on the site, including the topics and navigation, to support the business and its audience? How will you reach your audience?
Then there’s your brand. Your brand is demonstrated with the way you communicate and interact with your audience online: your community and your customers. Your brand should seep through every part of your website – including something as small as a Meta tag.
In fact, marketing and branding wisdom should be brought to every decision the SEO team makes. Ask, does the decision support the marketing and business goals — yes or no? Does it demonstrate the values of the brand — yes or no? And marketing and branding knowledge can be applied to make wiser decisions about the analytics data you have as well.
When Will SEO and Marketing Be One?
The shift from search engine optimization in the strictest sense of the word to a more developed “digital marketing” has been occurring for some time. As Google gets smarter, as we have access to more technology, channels and data that allow us to market differently, SEO and marketing become one.
And as SEO is adopted more and more by the mainstream (which is a cause-and-effect event as mainstream adoption allows SEO to progress due to the resources that are put into it and the scenarios it is put in), SEO and marketing becomes one.
Neither traditional marketing nor SEO can continue to exist within their individual bubbles. Whether traditional marketers like it or not, and whether SEOs like it or not, the two must merge:
- Traditional marketing cannot exist without knowing how to market online; so traditional marketers must bring all their knowledge about how to market a company and a brand to the digital marketing team.
- SEO cannot exist without knowing how to support a company’s marketing and branding objectives; so traditional SEOs must ask the right questions and listen intently to the things that are important to the business.
So, Who Is in Charge of the Business Online?
So where does that leave businesses that needs marketing — who do you hire? If you’re able to afford a team, you need a team of people working together to ensure your site is fulfilling both the technical and marketing requirements to compete in the digital space.
If you are looking for a solo consultant or staff member, try to find that person who understands not only how to market a business, but also how to create a healthy, crawlable, clean website that works within Google’s guidelines and recommendations. (And as Google evolves, so will these requirements.)
If you’re a professional stuck in the middle of these two worlds, it doesn’t mean you have to be a “Jack of All Trades.” There will always be a place for you on the digital marketing team with your specialized skill set.
And while you may not ever be a Kurzweil, understanding where your discipline is headed in the digital marketing age as technology changes will help you make predictions about the future of online marketing, add to your skill set and contribute at a much higher level to the success of a site.