If you’re keeping up with the latest search trends, you might ask yourself, “do I still need to worry about SEO?
A recent Forbes article discussed the era of “digital discovery,” suggesting that traditional search engines, such as Google, could become relics.
Do the facts support such a possibility?
Do you still need to spend time and resources optimizing your SEO?
What’s the answer?
Where Does The Data Lead Us?
“Almost 40 percent of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.”
This is an insightful admission from Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s Senior Vice President.
A New York Times article suggests,
“While Google remains the world’s dominant search engine, people are turning to Amazon to search for products, Instagram to stay updated on trends, and Snapchat’s Maps to find local businesses.”
For Gen Z, TikTok has become the “search engine” of choice.
“Tiktok’s results don’t seem as biased as Google’s, adding that she often wants a different opinion from what ads and websites optimized for Google say.” (NY Times article For Gen Z, TikTok is the New Search Engine)
61% of US consumers start their product search on Amazon. 49% begin their product search on a search engine. Social media platforms collectively draw 68% of US consumer search traffic.
The Search Space Is More Competitive
The search engine space has become highly competitive. Consumers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to accessing the information they need. Ease and authenticity appear to top the list of priorities for consumers worldwide. Many prefer to stay on their favorite social media platform, resulting in a boon for social selling. Platforms like LinkedIn and “dark social” channels like Reddit and Slack have become favored ecosystems for researching business products and services.
According to Google’s internal data, as reported on TechCrunch, almost 40% of Gen Z users prefer TikTok and Instagram for internet searches. So to remain competitive, Google intends to add more TikTok-like features that make it easier and faster for people to find the products and services they need.
It’s not only a preference for TikTok or Instagram as a search channel. Users are also drawn to the features that trending social media platforms offer. For instance, short-form video has become the content type of choice by everyone, including B2B and B2C consumers. The result is the proliferation of short-form videos across almost all social media platforms. For example, Instagram has Reels, and YouTube has YouTube Shorts. The phenomenon hasn’t hit LinkedIn yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them adopt a similar feature.
Buyers Prefer To Search On Social Channels
So, Do You Need To Worry About SEO?
A Google study examined the growing popularity of YouTube as the destination for consumers, especially Gen Z users, to find the products and services they need.
- Trust topped the list of reasons why consumers search on YouTube.
- Gen Z respondents said they search for brands they love rather than trendy ones.
And how do you move your brand into the “love category?”
- Create a positive shopping experience.
- Be authentic and give product information that your consumer audience can trust.
At the same time, Google’s study found that if consumers trust the platform, they also trust the brands they find there. This is one of the reasons that LinkedIn is the preferred channel for B2B interaction. It tops the list of most-trusted social media channels.
(However, if you’re a B2C brand, you should also have a LinkedIn presence. LinkedIn users are people with needs beyond their workplace.)
How About Social Shopping
Despite all the digital marketing reports about increased social shopping, a Forrester study found that while social commerce is an essential element and well worth your attention, it is not yet drawing in a significant percentage of shoppers.
Forrester’s Retail Topics Insights Survey, 2022, found the following:
- 34% of US shoppers, 26% of UK shoppers, and 39% of French shoppers have seen shoppable content on social media networks even if they didn’t necessarily click to buy at that moment.
- 62% of online adults never complete a purchase inside a social channel. Despite gains in 2020, the social shopping trend appears to have slowed.
However, demographics do matter:
- 61% of US adults under 25 have completed online purchases on social channels. Only 29% of adults 45-55 years old purchased on a social platform.
So, do you still need to worry about SEO?
Here are some insights from Ahrefs to help you put the question into perspective.
- 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine (BrightEdge)
- 53.3% of all website traffic comes from organic search. (BrightEdge)
- SEO drives 1000+% more traffic than organic social media (BrightEdge)
- 90.63% of pages get no organic search traffic from Google (Ahrefs)
- 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby visit a business within a day (Think With Google statistics)
SEO vs. Social Media
SEO requires a more intense effort, and the results build over time. Google Analytics and other tools help you discover what’s working and what’s not. But, there are some gaps in the information, such as dark social engagements, which we discussed in a previous article.
With social media, you’ll see results more immediately. Social media enables you to track, measure, and analyze the results of your marketing campaigns. From your analytics platforms, you’ll know, in real-time, which posts, ads, and types of content resonate, engage, and result in conversions. And you can quickly pivot as consumer preferences change. You then have data-based findings to incorporate into your SEO strategy.
However, with all the above in mind, the basics of SEO – keywords – should be embedded in your social media marketing too.
Optimizing and Reimagining SEO
According to Neal Patel, 74% of social media users use social media to make buying decisions. And, he says, 8.1% of all searches are questions.
So, the answer to the question, “do I still need to worry about SEO?” is yes. However, you need to expand your concept of SEO to take advantage of the rise in social media usage, especially among younger shoppers.
According to Google data, 15% of Google searches have never been searched before.
So, don’t be tempted to go after the highest-ranking keywords.
Think about what your customers’ intent might be when searching.
Look at emerging trends, something that isn’t hot yet, but looks like it will be.
Imagine those questions, and use them in your content, website articles, and social media posts. A good resource for this is Answer The Public.
Use SEO hashtags in your social media posts.
Optimize for quality
SEO is not about word count or keyword stuffing.
While it’s true that the essential goal of SEO is to draw organic traffic to your website, once there, you want your visitors to find answers to their questions quickly.
And speed is critical today.
Google’s “quick-read” feature lets users know if your article answers their questions rapidly or if it’s lengthy and requires more time.
In our “give it to me now” ecosystem, you want to focus your SEO on providing those answers upfront. Depending on how much time a searcher has, they may skip over your in-depth article, clicking instead on a competitor’s quick read.
Bottom Line: Do You Still Need To Worry About SEO?
Yes. SEO is not going away. But, as you can see from the data we’ve included in this article, the results are mixed. One thing is clear: social media channels as search platforms are on the rise. But, consumers still prefer to complete their purchases on brand websites.
- Optimize your SEO for owned (your website) and rented digital space (social channels).
- Know your audience. Be sure to collect demographic and psychographic details.
- Research to discover intent, unanswered questions, and future needs.
- Skip the high-performing keywords, and focus on niche keywords that answer questions.
- Publish high-quality content written for your audience and not for search engines.
- Answer your consumers’ questions clearly and quickly.
- Let us know what you think in the comment box below.
- Contact us today if you have any questions.
- And don’t forget to sign up for future blog posts.
For those of you celebrating, Happy Thanksgiving!