How natural search (SEO) is evolving by Gary Moyle, Head of Search at NetBooster UK – Gary Moyle, our Head of Search in NetBooster UK, discusses what has changed in natural search (SEO), what new opportunities and challenges marketers will face, and how to continue to be successful in natural search in the future.

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How Search is Evolving

Search has always been a fast-paced industry, but SEO is now evolving more rapidly than ever. It is no longer a narrow set of activities; instead it is an important part of a wider digital marketing strategy. So over the last 18 months Google has aggressively been tackling web spam and also focused on understanding user intent. So it is now very clear brands have to focus on earning links, not building them, and also have a content strategy in place that delivers value to customers.

So how do we make the most of our content?

Natural search has become a lot more visual over the last 2 years. And we can see a diverse array of visual search results coming into Google and other search engines, specifically images, videos, the knowledge graph, so things like the carousel, as well as the testing of large banner formats, which we saw last year. So now it is very clear that words are not our only asset in natural search, and it is important to engineer the content so it takes advantage of some of these more visual aspects.

So what’s changing?

Producing relevant content is always going to be important, but now it is very much about serving a topic rather than individual keywords. Those publisher that can serve well-constructed valuable content are much more likely to gain traffic in natural search as a result.
So a good example of this is: destinations. Let us take New York for an example. If a publisher can produce a great page that features great destination copy, flight information, hotels in the local area, all combined into one great piece of content, that is far more likely to rank for related search queries.

New customer expectations

Customers now expect a seamless experience across all channels. So that synergy between social, local, mobile, and web is going to become increasingly important as Google uses this to enrich its search results. Technology is also going to emerge as a key battleground in retail as customers expect their journey between offline and online worlds to be fully integrated.

We’re also starting to see a diverse array of social channels such Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat, all offering valuable ways for brands to connect with their audiences. Facebook open graph is a great example of this. So having social media optimization as part of your wider digital marketing strategy is going to become increasingly important.

So what does this mean?

How we measure natural search performance has fundamentally changed. Google and other search engines have essentially stopped passing on keyword data, which means we now do not understand what keyword somebody typed in to find our website. So now it is about measuring content rather than individual keywords. So I would encourage brands to think about how they measure the business impact of individual or groups of pages, and how they correlate that with ranking visibility.

In conclusion you can no longer see SEO as a separate marketing channel. The synergy between natural search and other channels is crucial in developing a mature digital strategy that is much smarter than the sum of its parts. That is something we take very seriously at NetBooster and it is reflected in our client work. So thanks for watching, I hope you found this insightful, and if you would like to find out more about NetBooster or what we can do for your business, please get in touch.

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