What’s Next for SEO?

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It can seem almost impossible to keep up with all the latest search engine optimization (SEO) trends. Google and Bing are changing the rules all the time. It’s even harder to know how to respond to SEO changes to improve the performance of your firm’s digital assets.

That’s why Carpenter Group is sharing this list of SEO issues and opportunities that could impact the performance of financial and professional service firm websites over the next few years, along with tips on how you can start planning for them today. It will help you get ahead of the SEO curve.

1. Mobile only. Experts are seeing a day in the near future when all – or almost all – online searches are done on mobile devices. Traditional computers will become marginalized machines that are used for things like design work, engineering, animation and other detail-oriented and specialized tasks, not research.

Implications: When mobile-only happens, highly responsive web experiences and content will be required, not optional. If your current website isn’t mobile-first, you’re already behind. What are you waiting for? It’s time to start building for a mobile-only future today.

2. Localization. As more people use mobile devices to search for information, a greater percentage of the results served up are based on the searcher’s location.

This could have a big impact on searches related to certain types of financial and professional service companies, products and services. Here are some examples:

  • It’s less likely that the biggest provider will come up in organic listings when someone searches for a “bank.” Instead, the firms with the closest branches appear.
  • The same is true for insurance companies. The local agency is as likely to be served up as the biggest online policy seller.
  • When it come to accountants and lawyers, the individual practitioner on the next block will have as much power in search as a global corporate behemoth.

Implications: This brave, new, localized world is forcing financial and professional service firms of all sizes to be more strategic about how they position themselves as global, national and local entities. Many are more focused on regional presence than size and scale.

3. Contextualized search. Today, and more so in the future, it’s not always about what you search for, it’s what you mean to search for.

Contextualized search and the results related to it are becoming more common because search engines are getting smarter about understanding how people think. They’re starting to “get” what you really mean as opposed to what you say. For example, if you’ve been using Google to research “homes,” “mortgages” and “furniture stores” and then you search for “insurance”, you’re more likely to be served up listings for homeowner’s insurance rather than healthcare policies.

Implications: In order to win with contextual search, companies must update their web content to more clearly define and explain their product and service offerings and who they’re targeted to. This provides more context for search engines to understand them and match them up with the right consumers.

4. Bing is back. Just a year or two ago, it seemed as if Bing was always going to be Google’s much smaller search sibling. As spoken search has become more popular with the advent of Siri, Alexa and Cortana, Bing is becoming a bigger search player.

More devices are being sold with Cortana, the vocal help app powered by Bing. This will allow Bing’s knowledge about vocal search to continue to grow and outpace Google’s.

The issue for financial and professional services marketers is that individuals will use their voices and natural language to do searches. That makes it more likely that they will:

  • Tell their phones, “I need a new checking account” rather than search for local banks.
  • Ask Siri or Alexa or Cortana to, “Find me a great deal on auto insurance” rather than search for insurance companies.
  • Ask their tablets to, “Find me low-risk, high-return mutual fund options” rather than searching for mutual funds.

Implications: Financial firms will have to use plain conversational language to explain their products and services on their websites. This will help search engines connect them to the actual spoken words people are using to look for them.

5. It’s all about pictures and videos. We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. Search engines are becoming more aware of this and finding ways to provide better image- and video-related results.

In the past, visual results were mediocre as best because YouTube was a highly disorganized video library and most online photos had poor descriptions. These issues are slowly being resolved.

Implications: Financial and professional services companies should be prepared to get back into the video, infographic and chart-production business. The next generation of these marketing assets will be served up more effectively — and be better received — than previous attempts at visual marketing.

Need help facing the brave new world of SEO? Check out Carpenter Group’s perspective on how SEO should fit into a broader digital marketing strategy. Then contact us to find out how we can help you improve your SEO strategies.