I got into a long argument about SEO with a “growth hacker” (tm) the other day.
How it started
She was talking about how Voice SEO is all the rage and the future of all search queries in search engines. This has a few implications:
1. Search queries will be more question-oriented, focused on very specific things that need to spill out only ONE result.
These are conversational, long requests we say out loud to our mobile virtual assistant. 2/3s of Millenials actively use those. You know how in today’s SEO we’re talking first page or bust? Yeah. Take that to now mean top 1 or bust.
2. Devices are learning to “talk” to you and each other.
When you ask your Alexa to put ordering some orange juice on the agenda, it will spit out the best local options for buying orange juice. In the future when you’re asking your fridge to do that and maybe even make an order, it’ll go to the first reputable source it finds and fulfill the request.
Internet of Things is already here, the question is how prevalent it will be.
3. Attention spans are shortening.
People gloss over your writing in order to look at pretty infographics, read a few headlines and get their very specific curiosities satisfied. But you already knew that.
So far so good.
Why was I arguing with the gal?
My job as a Vizier is to always go further in these trends, to their logical conclusion. The question “Why in the flying heck are you so hellbent on SEO even being relevant for the average business these years down the line?” caught her off guard.
You know how years ago we used to frequent dozens of websites, subscribe to RSS feeds and engage on forums? We do far less of that now. Most people engage with their content of choice via pre-established platforms. We’re talking Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin) and specialized “interest hubs” like Medium, Quora, StackOverflow, you name it. The gaming’s equivalent is Discord groups.
By the same virtue we have hubs — in the tech world we call them “Aggregators” — for ecommerce (your Amazons and Alibabas), rentals (Booking, Airbnb), online courses (Udemy, Skillshare), etc. You think of a niche, there’s an aggregator for it.
These places spend countless amounts of dough to stay on top of things.
Once we start talking about the top 1–2 search results mattering, we’re talking Aggregator’s dream. While your clients and visitors (content creators, real estate owners, sellers, buyers, etc) focus on getting their services out there and doing business, Aggregators focus full time on marketing and matchmaking services. It’s their job to drive the “growth” towards their service providers. In other words
Aggregators can afford to always be found first.
The more laser-focused and specific the questions and required results become, the easier it is to match a service/content provider with the searcher and provide more similar stuff to them. For your average business owner, blogger, vendor, etc, SEO becomes increasingly more expensive with the need to reach top 1–2 results. For your average aggregator, it’s the entire business model to leverage it.
They can afford to specialize and pull out relevant/local service providers related to whatever search it is.
That’s why what they used to call the “golden age of blogging” is in the rear view. It’s why podcasters found their homes on youtube and itunes and all them various platforms. It’s why inns and hotels focus on premium Booking,com service over putting money into website promotion.
The website for your average business became where you drive traffic AFTER it was qualified by the audiences of these Aggregators. Maybe someone looks up your Ebay profile and finds your website with cheaper prices. Or they read your article on Medium and find your blog. Or they call your hotel directly after finding it on Booking. And so on.
This leads us down a certain rabbit hole.
A rabbit hole many “growth hackers” won’t appreciate, because only the most elite of them are ever going to end up working for these platforms, doing high-end analytics and the like. Average startups won’t be driving traffic from search engines — and that’s about half of their job gone.
Mark my words: people of the future won’t look at websites the same way we do. Lots of them will go the way of the dodo, nothing but code and text blurps to enable automatic orders made by your fridges and toilets. Most of us won’t even see a lot of these highly algorithmic, super specialized pages. Pages that’ll piggyback off already existing services like Amazon and such.
Websites that will stick around will only be there as a status proof, link between your messenger communities, e-mail lists, and social media.
In fact, we’re already halfway there.
I’m a biased man when it comes to it. I think having your audience depend largely on search traffic is cause for disaster, with where things are headed.
To bring it back to the argument I opened with — the Voice SEO conversation isn’t about optimizing for it, but about changing your business model entirely to fit the wave of changes on the horizon.
And if you’re an entrepreneur in an emerging industry? Boy. You have problems outside of Voice SEO and website traffic stuff. Get your value proposition and audience in order before even starting to hire someone to work on them keywords and queries.
You have the trend in the bag, now go build something great.
Alex Partin will be there to help with the value proposition and audience side of things — check out his daily newsletter at https://alexpartin.com