We Had A Deal! Rand Fishkin and Brighton SEO

We Had A Deal! Rand Fishkin and Brighton SEO

So the sun has set- a beautiful autumn sunset it was too- on another Brighton SEO. The craft beer has gone flat and the artisan sausage rolls have gone cold. On Friday night Rand Fishkin wrapped up the event with a wise and inspirational keynote. The premise of Rand’s talk went something like this: 

  • It turns out that, after all, Google is mainly interested in making money
  • We had a deal.  In exchange for enabling Google to fulfil it’s mission we would get clicks. As webmasters and brand owners opening up the world of information to it’s crawlers and creating useful and interesting content that helped internet users fulfil their needs….there would be organic traffic. 
  • As it happens, Google believes that the best way in 2018 for it to meet it’s mission statement of making the world’s information universally accessible and available is to bring the answers to the world’s questions directly into the Search Engine Results Pages. So if you need to know about the weather, we’ll answer it in the SERPS. Need to check on flights? We’ll answer it in the SERPS. Need to know about famous and notable people? We’ll answer it in the SERPs. And you know what? That’s not off mission, it fits squarely in with Google’s reason for existence. 
  • The net result of this, is of course, that us- the web publishers, content creators, sellers- find our organic listings increasingly crowded out. This is especially- but not uniquely- a problem manifesting itself in mobile search and Rand skilfully showed us how hard it is to find an organic listing on the mobile SERPs these days. And of course all this means reduced numbers of clicks. Rand showed the volume of available organic traffic actually going down in this brave new world. 

And then Rand threw us a bone. We’ve taken for granted that organic traffic would keep on expanding forever. He carefully sidestepped the implication that Google was abusing it’s monopoly in some way. However, he pointed out, even with a drop off in available organic traffic back to 2012 levels that was still a whole shit-ton of traffic. And nothing has changed. We still need to be interesting and useful. We still need to enable and curate great content. There is opportunity- a huge opportunity- in brand terms, in the long tail and the chunky middle for search. And the SEO industry has a lot of work to do, with relevance he sees for at least a decade, probably a lot longer. 

It struck me how much of an opportunity this presents also for the Conversion Rate Optimisation industry (full disclosure: I’ve always hated the “conversion rate” part of this as far too narrow a definition of what we do, but…..we’re stuck with it)

CRO is a young industry, microscopic in size in comparison with SEO, but as the value of clicks increases and publishers need to sweat and make the most of all organic traffic, what a chance for us to work with SEOs to improve the on site experience even more. As the value of branded traffic proportionately increases, the ability to easily navigate around the site becomes more important- this means better navigation cues, great site search, an opportunity to engage with the brand through registration and site feedback and ever better chatbots and customer service brands. In the chunky middle this means great informational or research pages, reducing friction, price comparisons, alternate products and the introduction of timely personalisation. In the long tail this means great product pages with high quality product images and video, honest and inspirational customer reviews, easy access to FAQs and slick checkouts. Most of all- in my opinion- it represents an opportunity for conversion rate optimisation after the “conversion”. Into nurturing an helping long term and repeat customers, getting us into the world of CRM and band advocacy. 

To make this happen we need to start breaking down silos in the organisations that create content (i.e. all of us)- walls that currently are nominally there between on site optimisation, outreach, link building and brand teams. We all like to think that we’re breaking down silos, working together for the pursuit of a common goal, a happy user, a repeat customer. In reality, hardly anyone is doing it. 

Rand Fishkin just laid it out for us. Good “Optimisation”- SEO, CRO, forget the acronyms- involves cross discipline teams getting together to answer user questions in a friction free environment with useful, easy to access, persuasive content. And if we work together and do this a little bit better, then maybe, just maybe, we can enjoy this beautiful sunset for a whole lot longer. 

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