What comes after SEO?

The death of SEO. I’ve been reading about that for a while now. And I have thought the same to myself: Search’s new wave is due to tsunami upon us soon as the clumsiness of keyword search for locally relevant results is tested, and performs poorly, time and again.
We expect answers one click away

Where does content marketing go from here? And what comes next after search? After all, content marketing has become the answer so content is in it for the long haul, it seems. The beast is dependent on its master.

As a professional with about two decades of analytics and search engine meta behind me, some of me balks at the idea that traditional search is obsolete. Most of how we understand the “internet” to work is based on answers to search “queries”. Many people have spent many years getting it right/write. But “queries” they remain, best described as database queries, rather than human questions.

Search optimization is what really took the web from adolescence to fully grown, decision-making adult. We are still in charge of the decision-making process. But there are too many options to choose from. Now is the time to invest in solutions.

But it’s not a case of traditional SEO methodology being so masterful it outgrew itself.

We are at that juncture where served Search results (supposedly usable ones) take as much of your time as pages of unusable, irrelevant results. Solutions that can answer that problem, meet that need, is where the next investment of energy beckons.

How general keyword search can go so wrong…

So if you are actually in a specific location and you need answers now, how much time are you willing to waste to find a phone number of someone to call now.

If you are resorting to books and social media, Search is not doing a very good job.

Yes. Search engines will inform you quite accurately about all areas of your keywords search, except deliver one or two Localized-plus-immediately-usable results. Try searching for a plumber in your area now. You are more likely to get four pages of irrelevant information before you find what the result you want.

A plumbers number and contact booking form for you to book someone nearby. Today. In fact the drain is dripping quite badly now!

The move from keyword searches to question based queries

How many people do a “boolean” search when they are looking for a specific result? Generally we type in a phrase, and sometime even a + keyword qualifier. Are you surprised by the 150k irrelevant results when you type in “Plumber + Beverly Hills”.

The need comes before the supply

None of us have any time anymore. If we can give people back their time by simplifying technology, that is priceless. Achieving that level of search elegance is where the next wave of search and answers need to go. And so the transition from focusing on queries to better answers, happens.

Tech answers the knock at the door

We move far beyond SERPs. No one looks beyond page one of a result, and I have even encountered people who don’t know that Search Engines serve more than a first page. SERPs don’t hack it anymore.

So how do we move beyond answers to queries. We don’t. We just raise the relevance level of those answers, so that you can have your query answered in a click.

Think of it as a Search, with one correct result.

Searches are slow and inaccurate

Relatively speaking. Yes, the algorithms are getting almost human intelligent, but with a match of 40% or less, for accuracy for relevant results, you are wasting more time searching than exploring the most relevant result. This failing accuracy is an all-too-common complaint. (Read these complaints from users who are expecting better results.)

Local searches can give you results across the globe, for any town named the same as yours. Ninety-nine percent of these towns are not yours.

And cached information stays around forever…

What we need is search on steroids, a big fish in a small pond, whichever pond you are in — achieving the best information in a one click result.

Often a search will take you to an article that was very well written …in 2013. Or a business who did very well on Search, but not so in life, and has shut down.

I come across this far more often than should ever happen.

But that would reduce a whole lot of numbers that marketers love and use as metrics. After all, we have to measure progress somehow.

Circumnavigating the problem of inaccuracy

Until algorithms are so advanced they can think and predict for us, we should aim for a most likely usable result.

With human bias and expectation, we have to circumnavigate the whole mess and try get to a one-click answer, a one-to-one match.

Search at its next level produces fewer answers, but the three you are most likely to click. We need to start exploring tech solutions that have the next level answers. These may look something like this, and this is purely from a Users perspective:

  1. only shows you the 3 most likely results

2. results are based on learning your preferences

3. result is based on your exact question

4. result is based on your location

Ultimately, the next generation of search ends in a usable, personally relevant localized result in one click.

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