As Google evolves, so must SEO practitioners. With 500 to 600 algorithm changes per year, Google has kept SEOs busy reacting and adapting to new circumstances. An SEO's ability to adapt has become even more difficult in 2015. Google has kept quiet about almost all of its algorithm changes, even relatively major ones.
If SEOs want to keep up and continue providing value, they have to become significantly more agile.
The term agile refers to a project management methodology that involves constant iteration. Agile teams and organizations use constant feedback to provide continual, iterative improvement to products and service offerings. Since they're not building one big, finished product to ship, they can react quickly to change and adapt on the fly.
Agile SEO management has to become not only a process, but a practiced mentality. The ability to anticipate and prepare for changes is the key to being successful in the search world of today -- think of NHL Hall-of-Famer Wayne Gretzky's quote about skating to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.
To get your teams thinking with an agile mindset, we recommend you focus on these top themes:
Have clear objectives
Today, search engine optimization isn't only about ranking high, it's about having broader visibility through different kinds of content. We do this by providing real value to consumers. Yesterday's objectives aren't necessarily relevant today. Agile SEOs refocus the core strategic principles with an emphasis on what they want to accomplish.
For example, if your goal is to increase conversions on your website, you might consider thinking more granularly and break it down into smaller objectives, such as:
- Reduce the bounce rate in three consecutive months
- Improve conversion rate by 1 percent
- Increase visits to your blog by 10 percent month-over-month
Whatever your small indicators for success, having a clear purpose in mind helps to minimize tedious and irrelevant tactics that don't necessarily lead to your ultimate goal.
Focus on the end user
As SEOs, we know that one of the only constants is that search algorithms will always continue to change. While they're difficult to stay on top of, the changes are for good reason -- they're meant to give consumers better, higher quality experiences with brands.
As SEO strategies have changed, we've come to recognize that quality has taken on much greater importance. Producing interesting and engaging content has taken precedence over being No. 1 in the SERP. Why? Because it's what the end user demands. The consumer is the number one priority -- after all, they make the magic happen.
Whether you're optimizing a site for mobile, restructuring your internal linking, or performing a technical analysis of your site, successful SEO strategies lead to vital connections between brand and consumer.
Stay in tune with Google
Google is a powerful force. There's no getting around it. And while its algorithm changes are intended to create a more impactful user experience, the persistence of these changes can be a headache.
That being said, Google simply cannot be ignored. When it willingly announces an update 10 weeks prior to hitting, companies should take time to understand and address the necessary procedures to make the needed adjustments. While "mobilegeddon" didn't necessarily have as dramatic an impact as SEOs first thought, it did drive us to think about a greater theme of an improved consumer experience. And the reality is that some sites are now being dinged for a lack of mobile optimization.
The lesson here is to ensure your team is prepared to meet Google's changes long before they happen.
Break the silos
The SEO perspective might not always align with the rest of the organization's priorities, which often places search in a silo. To be agile, SEOs need to break out of that silo and embrace the critical impact they have on the overall performance of all the digital channels.
We now live in a world where collaboration is key and data is abundant. The more we develop an understanding of how SEO and content fit together in the big picture, the better we can strategize not just to increase visibility, but to fuel inbound marketing and lead generation. Breaking down the silos in the organization at large is critical, but focusing on your internal SEO department is equally as crucial.
Though we may worship our tools and platforms, shifting the focus to people is a way to ensure everyone's goals are in alignment. All the tools in the world won't do any good unless there's an empowered team member behind them.
Think big picture
Each time there's an industry change, such as a major update to the Google algorithm, it's critical to be prepared for the impact. That means communicating possible challenges or opportunities with internal teams, as well as clients. A large-scale algorithmic change clearly has implications for search, but it's also possible that it will affect other channels and campaigns.
Thinking big picture keeps you well-equipped to react quickly to a change, while also thinking about how other parts of the organization should be informed.
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"Notebook with text inside SEO on table with coffee, mobile phone and glasses." image via Shutterstock.