Seek and you shall find ... right?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is not without reason of great importance for marketers: Those who disregard the rules of the search portals end up in digital nirvana. m&k editor Robert Wildi asked experts what matters.

In order to recognize trends in the field of search engine optimization and decipher their significance, it pays to look at the topic from a conceptual perspective: this is what someone who should know says. As co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of the Internet agency Iqual in Bern, Olivier Blattmann is one of the leading SEO specialists in the country. Search engine optimization (SEO) has three players: the searchers, the providers and the search engine operators. In the commercial case, these are customers, companies and Google, in that order. "As we all know, the latter dominates this field with market shares of well over 90 percent, and this will not change in 2021," Blattmann said. For marketing professionals, meanwhile, it is important to always stay on the ball with SEO and to consider recognizable developments in their own strategy at an early stage.

New Google quality standards

The same tip is given by Nicole Treipl, head of the SEO department at the Zurich digital marketing agency BlueGlass. "The Google algorithm is constantly evolving due to the machine learning techniques RankBrain and BERT to understand the search intentions of users and to provide appropriate answers," she dives directly into the matter. Quality is the top priority. According to Treipl, Google sets new quality standards every year, which website operators should adhere to in order to remain present in the search engine's top rankings. Existing standards such as EAT (Expertise, Authority, Trust) remain valid.

In 2021, another quality factor will be added, according to the BlueGlass specialist. Google already openly refers to this as "page experience". With the help of the "Core Web Vitals" (a series of metrics that relate to the speed, responsiveness and visual stability of a website), it is measured whether the loading time, the time until the first interaction option and the stability of the page layout are within the scope of a positive user experience. "Core Web Vitals can already be evaluated using various tools such as Lighthouse, PageSpeed Insights or Chrome UX Report." According to Google, this ranking factor will be rolled out from May 2021, Nicole Teipl knows. For Kevin Näf, Team Manager SEO at Webrepublic, three main trends for organic rankings on Google are accentuating this year. "Firstly, user-friendliness and user experience (UX) will have a significantly increasing influence on the ranking of a website." For him, this is also mainly due to the fact that Google Core Web Vitals, announced in 2020, will be part of the search algorithm starting in May. In addition, Google plans to switch all websites to mobile-first indexing by March, he said. "Accordingly, optimizing websites for mobile devices will continue to grow in importance," Näf said. And that is regardless of how high the share of mobile traffic is and to which industry a site belongs.

Finally, the specialist from Webrepublic also confirms that the holistic approach to content SEO is a central key to success the longer, the more. Näf therefore recommends moving away from pure keyword optimization and instead focusing on users, their journey and search intent. "This is certainly a goal-oriented way to make your own content organically visible."

SEO as "information retrieval

What concrete tips do the experts give SEO users to use the current trends profitably for themselves? "Look at SEO from the perspective of information procurement and put yourself more in the shoes of your users," says Sara Moccand, SEO specialist at the Liip agency. As an SEO user, you should consider how information is linked and how it relates to one another. According to Moccand, almost all trends and measures go in the direction of automation. "That's why you should get into automation now at the latest and make skilful use of machine intelligence."

For Olivier Blattmann of the Internet agency Iqual, it is clear that in the end, the winners will be those companies that have understood the value of SEO at the highest management level and approach the topic holistically. This starts with the professionalization of SEO as a service for the entire company. Next, he said, comes integrated search marketing along with the closely related discipline of search engine advertising (SEA) and other pull marketing channels. "And at the end is the coordinated and harmonized marketing, communications and sales management across all channels, campaigns and media towards sustainable brand building," says Blattmann, who has worked through this process with a number of clients and supported them along the way. Blattmann likes to quote Marcus Tandler, a veteran of the SEO scene: "The guarantee for a top 10 ranking in Google is an omnipresent TV spot." That really says it all.


10 SEO trends

by Olivier Blattmann, Iqual

For seekers

1 - More spoken search queries on Google.

2 - Many more "W" questions, fueled by the language trend.

3 - Generation Y and Z want to be entertained with moving images.

4 - Short, quick info evokes counter-trend of "long-form content".

For search engines

5 - "Core Web Vitals" become ranking criteria.

6 - Mobile-first indexing is implemented by Google.

7 - Artificial intelligence in the ranking algorithms classifies search results and helps to permanently optimize the results.

8 - Google is listed on the stock exchange and therefore owes all shareholders a positive development. Therefore, previously free offers could soon be subject to fees.

For companies

9 - To cope with the complexity of search engine optimization, companies are professionalizing their SEO efforts.

10 - Advanced companies rely on sustainable, scalable and data-driven search engine optimization.


"SEO delivers 30 percent of our website traffic"

The travel and holiday industry is being hit hard by the Corona crisis. Digital innovation is more in demand than ever to remain visible, as the example of ITS Coop Travel proves. Robert Wildi from m&k in an interview with Marcel Eisele, Head of Marketing and Sales at ITS Coop Travel.

m&k: In Corona times, almost no one goes to the travel agency anymore. How to be found on the net as a holiday provider?

Marcel Eisele: Especially for tour operators, it is very important in such times to be present on the entire customer journey. We take this to heart. With as many physical and digital contact points as possible, ITS Coop Travel generates a lot of attention and website traffic.

 

How do you design these contact points?

In advertising, we rely heavily on online tools such as SEA, SEO, display advertising, affiliates, email marketing, social media and content marketing. In the area of SEO, we invest heavily in on-page optimization, as this is an effective way to drive traffic to the website. SEO requires discipline, perseverance and constant optimizing. Currently we are working on pagespeed, faster load times and mobile optimization to further improve the user experience. To do this, we use Google's Core Web Vitals report. We are also focusing on content marketing as another SEO technique. Voice search is something we monitor.

 

Which contents do you play out? Are hotel descriptions and prices still sufficient for customers?

In addition to a good price-performance ratio and a description of the offer, ratings, location maps and destination and climate information are now obligatory. In addition, we communicate our advantages as a travel provider, currently offering, for example, very advantageous rebooking and cancellation conditions as well as the many benefits of the Coop Supercard, which is exclusive in the industry.

 

Does a functioning SEO take on a central commercial function for a package tour provider such as ITS Coop?

For us, SEO is indeed very important and delivers around 30 percent of website traffic in a normal year. On top of that, we have an above-average conversion rate.

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