Following Monday’s post on selling SEO during the economic downturn I wanted to put forward some ideas on how specific SEO methods might change over the next 12-18 months. We're all used to frequent shifts in the ranking algorithms of major engines – and the occasional update of seismic magnitude that changes the game for whole sectors and strategies – but how many of us are used to dealing with rapid change induced by the search audience themselves?
Trends come and go, and market conditions change in any given sector. SEOs in fast moving spaces are used to dealing with that, but the next year or so is going to see a global shift towards certain types of search query construction. It’s in the wind so you should start getting ready for it now.
Price, value and quality
Now more than ever it’s vital that you have a deep understanding of what people have in mind when searching for your products or services (or those of your clients). As a general rule this will mean taking your imaginary searcher and tightening their belt a little.
This doesn’t mean people will be searching for "discount caviar"…optimising for "cheap X", "bargain Y" and "deals on Z" is going to be more important in commodity spaces though. Consumer goods, financial products, utility services and the like will see an upswing in popularity for searches indicating a high degree of price sensitivity. Look to phrases that incorporate these terms, as well as modifiers such as "sale", "specials", "buy online" (associated with good value in many areas) and so on.
Things will be slightly different in fields where even the most penny-pinching of us are looking for the best value rather than the cheapest price. Luxury goods won't suddenly be searched for with a host of fire sale style modifiers, nor will certain types of professional services: nobody wants a low rent solicitor or the cheapest private school for their children. Modifiers like "recommended", "top" and "compare" will probably get more play here.
There are as many examples as there are websites and what works for one field would be a misstep in another, but the key point is that people are going to be looking to spend less, or get more for their money. Think like a searcher and give them what they want.
We’d love to see other people's ideas on approaching this in specific spaces, and anyone who's already seeing an upswing in price sensitive search referrals…Holla back!