You know, I often have clients that aim to venture into SEO – for the very first time.
As part of this beginning journey, they seek to know a lot more about the landscape they are in, and how they shape up in that landscape.
In this attempt to understand more about their search landscape, they convolute the SEO industry with their industry in the search landscape.
And sometime, vice versa.
So, let me expand on what I mean.
The SEO search landscape is pertinent to SEO as an industry.
In the SEO industry, there are best practices to follow, to aim to maintain and indeed, to improve upon – to optimise.
The search landscape of your industry is a different thing.
This refers to how Google treats websites and search results in your industry.
This changes per industry.
For example, the search landscape of Electronics Retailers is different to the search landscape of Film Reviewers.
You only have to look at the search results of two keywords from these two industries and you’ll see the SERPs are, indeed, very different.
Why does the search landscape change per industry, you may ask.
Well, let’s take it back to Google’s objective.
Their objective is to organise the world’s information.
The world’s information changes per industry.
And the rate of change may differ vastly, depending on the industry.
News-based industries have a search landscape that changes quickly – daily, in many cases.
The search landscape has to change quickly for this industry because the information within the industry is forever changing.
This is why it’s far more valuable to be proactive with your SEO if you belong to this industry. We can delve into this another time.
The landscape of the maritime industry changes far less often.
Without having a look at any data, you can make a reasonable assumption that the search demand, overall, in this industry is less than the search demand in news-based industries.
People, searchers, are more interested in popular news and less so in information like ‘boat cleaning tips’.
The search volumes will be drastically different.
Why does all of this matter?
Well, all of this that I’ve just mentioned, influences Google and how they treat the SERPs and therefore, how they consider websites.
This is why – although we all know that backlinks are important – they differ in importance from industry to industry.
This is why the keyword difficulty isn’t comparable from industry to industry.
This is why websites can be in position 1 even though they do not meet the best practices of the SEO industry.
The two things – the search landscape of SEO and that of your industry – are different considerations.
When you commit to SEO you’ll want to follow both the SEO search industry and what the search landscape is like for your industry.
This will allow you to have SEO best practices in place to stay ahead of your competitors to ensure that you’re atop of the SERPs whenever Google changes the search landscape of your industry.
And, as a certainty, you can bet that the search landscape of your industry will change.
Just as SEO evolves, the search landscape of your industry will also evolve.
Your industry may be behind the best practices of the SEO industry but they will change.
In some cases – as an example – an algorithm update may focus specifically on your industry.
When Google does this, it’s not to penalise you, your competitors or your industry as a whole.
It’s simply them wielding their influence on you, your competitors, your industry, just like their consumers, wields influence on them to improve (or optimise) the search results that they receive.
An algo update isn’t an attack. It’s simply an influence to bring about change.
If you aim to be world-class, aligned with Google’s objective, you’ll come out on top of their algorithm changes. All. Of. The. Time.
An unfortunate mistake that I see clients make is they focus on either the SEO search landscape or on the search landscape of their industry.
You wanna aim to focus on both.
If you focus on the SEO search landscape, only, whilst you may have solid awareness of SEO best practices, there’ll be a tendency to lean towards optimisation for search engines, rather than keeping users in the centre of what you do.
Every new feature in the SERPs, you’ll want to jump on.
Google introduces featured snippet, you aim to attain them.
Google introduces AMPs, you aim to attain them.
Heck, Google could bring back Google+, Buzz and Wave as a triple-threat and you’ll aim to get them.
In doing all of this, you’ll be serving Google rather than your potential users.
On the other hand, if you focus only on the search landscape of your industry, you may be top of your brand competitors but in the online world, this wouldn’t be enough.
The search landscape of your industry comprises more than you and your brand competitors.
The online competitors, overall, also has to be considered.
In almost every industry, Wikipedia appears in the search landscape.
They’re a force to reckon with.
They may not be your brand competitor but they have a strong online presence that you have to compete against if you are to acquire the traffic you aim to attain.
When you keep track of the SEO search landscape as well as the search landscape of your industry, you’ll have an optimal approach that you can use throughout your SEO journey.
This will be regardless of the state of SEO within your business.
In other words, whether you’re new to SEO or have had it activated for years, whether you revolutionise your SEO or make small incremental adjustments, you’ll be improving your website for users and showing Google why you’re the best, most appropriate site for the keywords that you target.