Tuesday, March 10, 2015

How the Apple Watch will Change SEO

Last September when Apple announced its new iPhone 6, the company also revealed the design of its new Apple Watch with the promise that the watch will hit stores in "early 2015." Yesterday, after months of anticipation, Apple announced a specific date: April 24.

Obviously, the hoopla around the Apple Watch cannot be overstated. In February, JP Morgan revised its estimates for the Apple stock performance to accommodate the April release of the watch. As AppleInsider reports:

"Analyst Rod Hall issued a note to investors...in which he moved his December 2015 price target up $5 to $145. The increase comes alongside J.P. Morgan's first forecast for the Apple Watch, in which its 'central case' sees the company selling 26.3 million units in calendar 2015."

With that many devices out in the wild, the Apple Watch--like the iPhone--will likely change the cultural landscape. Of course, too, the device will influence the nature of SEO.

In September, for example, we reported that the Apple Watch might have a dramatic effect on local SEO. As Jayson DeMers wrote over at Forbes:

"Apple’s foray into wearable smart technology could mark the beginning of a new tech era—and some radical changes for the world of local SEO."

DeMers is one of our favorite SEO writers, and he's been spot-on in his writing about the evolving nature of SEO. We were happy to see, then, that he wrote an another article on the Apple Watch in February for the Huffington Post: "What will the Apple Watch Mean for Local Businesses."

With the Apple Watch announcement trending, and inspired by DeMers' latest thoughts on how the device might change SEO, we thought we'd revisit the topic.

First, it's important to note, wearable technology is not necessarily new or groundbreaking. Google glass, for example, the hideous glasses "that would project information in a heads-up display over a real-world environment" has already tried and failed.

As DeMers notes, "Google Glass failed to meet expectations, and production of the initial prototype has since been called to a halt."

Gary Shteyngart, explored Google Glass for the New Yorker. This picture alone should have presaged the device's eventual failure.

The Apple Watch, however, seems destined for success. Unlike Google Glass, the watch itself actually looks quite attractive. For fans of the sleek, minimalist iPhone, the Apple Watch just might be a necessary evolution--another "cool" gadget to add to one's style.

"Think different." Apple markets itself as the "cool"brand for the unique and stylish.

The style of the Apple Watch will likely ensure its success, but the functionality just might, in the words of DeMers, "cause massive changes in the dynamics of technology availability and function."

To envision these changes--and how your SEO campaign might respond to them--think about the experience of looking at a watch. As DeMers' astutely notes, the Apple Watch will have an "impossibly" small screen--at least when compared to other platforms for SEO, like phone and laptop screens. This is a simple fact, yet its implications are quite important.

First, the limits of the screen size will necessarily limit the way information, like a search result, is displayed. Until now, the search results we see on our laptops and desk tops have simply been miniaturized for our tablets and phones. The size of the watch screen makes this impossible. With millions of people now looking to increasingly smaller screens for information, the very nature of search is due to change.

As DeMers writes:

"It will no longer be feasible to list 10 web page results per page, complete with titles, descriptions, and links. Instead, Google and Bing will likely compose new styles of SERPs completely for smart watch users, preserving some elements of traditional SERPs but catering to a brand-new audience. This could change the benefits of ranking entirely, making it more beneficial to rank at #1 for one keyword rather than #8-10 for several keywords. It could also change the onsite factors Google pulls in for search results, limiting the display of meta data or eliminating it altogether."

The screen size will also inspire another change--in line with the evolution of Google's algorithm. In September, 2013, the Hummingbird algorithm revealed a new preference for lengthy queries. This change was a response to the increasing length of web queries as well as the prevalence of voice queries, which by nature tend to be more complex. These voice queries are precisely the type of search that Apple Watch users will use.

Again, DeMers writes:

"This could have a substantial impact on search volume for traditional keyword-based searches, and might eliminate keyword-based strategies as a feasible option altogether as long-tail phrases and semantic search clues take precedence."

That, indeed, is a major change. Obviously, following the Hummingbird algorithm, SEO has already been evolving to meet the demands of a  new type of search. This evolution makes sense across the board--not simply as a response to the Apple Watch.

In DeMers' article, he goes on to talk about how the Apple Watch will change the landscape for local search, a topic we discussed back in September. Please Read: "The Apple Watch: Style, Functionality, and Local SEO."

The upshot? As with Mobile SEO, the prizes will go to the businesses that adapt most quickly to the changing nature of SEO and marketing. We can't recommend the DeMers' article enough. More than simply reading articles, though, now is the time to act on your SEO campaign!

Evolve with the Times! Call Stepmans PC!

To navigate the new rules of mobile SEO, you might need to hire an SEO specialist like Stepmans PC. If you sell a high-quality product that deserves customers, you also deserve a well-optimized website that can compete on multiple platforms.

Do not let the changing search landscape compromise your sales. Now, more than ever, you need the astute wisdom of a professional search engine optimization professional.

Contact Stepmans PC today to learn how you can improve your website's performance: 215-900-9398.

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