EXPERT OPINION: SEO in a time of connected objects
Mobile is everywhere: it’s the topic of many discussions and recommendations. Is this not a trend already in the making, overhanging the shadow of the next big revolution? Reflecting back on SEO Camp’us Paris 2015, we examine some opinions of the participants and thoughts on the future of SEO.
Mobile: state of emergency is declared
If we speak about April 21 (1) as hype, SEO experts do agree on one point “there is an urgency to be mobile friendly in 2015”. The words of Philippe Yonnet, the founder of the association SEO Camp, were backed by renowned SEO consultant Laurent Bourelly, at the round table discussion proceeding the opening keynote, "Having a mobile enabled site is my main recommendation.” Often thought about but not at the forefront, we’ve been speaking of the importance of having mobile friendly sites to accommodate the user for several years. It’s only been in recent months that its impact on the ranking algorithm of Google results has been officially confirmed.
Beyond mobile Internet sites, keep in mind that mobile is already used to configure connected objects (bracelets for example), it also serves as the basis for others devices like smart watches or even remote controls (drones). Today, it appears as the true foundation of the Internet of Things. Mobile is more than a trend for Sylvain Peyronnet, head of a private lab involved in R&D of algorithms, "it’s a concern for the future of search.” Will search by key word disappear with the arrival of connected objects? In the long term, we can imagine this to be the case but now it is time for the adoption of new devices and new uses such as interactive search and the use of intelligent personal assistants. Google Now is a perfect example of the latter.
For several years, we’ve tailored content to search by key words. Today’s practice is totally different with semantic search and the willingness of search engines to provide responses (Knowledge Graph, Direct Answer Boxes, interactive search, etc.), especially since the "intent" of the Internet is taken into account in the Google algorithm. Phillippe Yonnet asked the question, “Can we still speak about SEO with connected objects?” Today, we must ask ourselves what methods need to be employed to have our brands appear in search results for intelligent personal assistants or for connected objects in general.
From SEO to COO?
Connected Object Optimization, maybe this is the name that we’ll soon use to speak about the reinvention of the SEO business. Thanks to smartphones, access to information is available at our finger tips and this will be even more so with the advent of connected objects. How do we best adapt to these new uses of search? Here are some thoughts and views of the search experts in attendance at SEO Camp’us Paris.
1. The importance of micro-data for voice search:
In their quest to provide more relevant and personalized responses, search engines need to better "understand" our content. For a few years now, Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yandex have agreed on a type of semantic markup allowing them to get additional information about the same content: Schema.org.
Today we know that Schema.org’s micro-data helps improve visibility in search engine results (Rich Snippets) and even allows pages to enter in the Knowledge Graph. Beyond visibility in traditional results, now micro-data appears to be key to voice search.
Over the years, the size of our requests has grown. They have grown as a result of keywords with complete sentences and this is particularly true for mobile, especially voice search. With its update, Humming Bird, Google is beginning to understand much better requests using natural language. To provide the most relevant results for the following query, “where is the closest pizzeria”, Google needs to search pages for signals and this is where Schema.org comes into play. Schema.org provides all necessary signals for a location, for example: latitude, longitude, address, customer notes, phone number, etc.
Going beyond SEO, while at SEO Camp’us, Erlé Alberton explained, “Having your brand included in the knowledge graph or in Google’s personal assistant is a real plus for customer retention. For example, imagine the effect that having a Google Now card can do for customer relationships.”
2. Speed, even more important for mobile?
Sites in which ergonomics and design are adapted to mobile have greater value in today’s search results. Speed must also be considered a key element when speaking about mobile. Remember, the last time that you came across a slow page, how long did you wait before leaving? The time it takes to load is the first impression of any web page. Gaining a second can be very powerful for search engine conversion rate and page indexing.
In situations of mobile (a smartphone today, tomorrow other connected objects with a browser), many factors affect page loading time experienced by the user. The Internet connection can influence the time it takes for a page to load, this is why we must optimize all elements which we have control of: reduce the distance between the user and content thanks to a CDN, browser caching by .htaccess, use of compression, upgrade to HTTP/2, etc.
3. Other tracks?
"You must also control location-based search and local SEO," this is the opinion of Matthieu Tournade, known for his SEO podcasts and someone who sees connected objects as new targeting opportunities for digital marketing campaigns. The Internet of Things brings its share of turmoil and we are only in the infancy. In addition to adapting to changes of algorithms, it is now important to keep watch on the internet of things.
(1) Google has announced that the next big change to its algorithm will take place on April 21, 2015. This update will give preference to compatible sites and applications for mobile results.