​​The Future of Search And How to Rank Everywhere

CJ Lewis

COO at Arvo Digital - Digital marketing professional with 15 years of experience. Specialties include technical search engine optimization, reputation management, conversion rate optimization, analytics, and running multi-channel marketing campaigns.

Why ‘Ranking Everywhere’ is the New SEO

Today’s SEO isn’t confined to Google. Platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Amazon, YouTube, and AI tools are changing the game. Optimizing for search within these platforms is a critical paradigm shift when it comes to maximizing your online impact.

Is SEO Still Relevant?

Let’s start with the big question. Is SEO still relevant? 

I’ve been in SEO for over 15 years, and I can attest to the many significant changes that have happened in search. This seems to be especially true over the last few years. 

However, when I hear people in the marketing world talk about how Search as a channel is “shrinking” or even “dying,” I cringe a little inside. I understand why they think this is, but I also know how wrong they are. 

The truth is, Search is alive and well. In fact, it’s a growing channel with more opportunities than ever before. Yes, Search has changed significantly, but the volume and value of search as a marketing channel have not diminished. Search is just expanding its reach beyond Google to encompass other platforms.

You’ve probably heard that Google is the king of search engines, controlling the vast majority of the search landscape. According to a recent HubSpot article, Google owns more than 92% of the global search engine market, including 72% of the desktop market and 92% of the mobile search engine market. By their metrics, Google’s nearest competitors in Search are Bing with 2.9% and Yahoo with 1.1%.

However, this doesn’t tell the whole story!

What is a Search Engine? 

By the strictest definition of a “search engine,” it might be true that Google dominates. And I would never suggest ignoring Google in your marketing mix. But, what if we broaden the “search engine” definition to include more platforms where people search for information? This makes our comparison a lot more interesting and valuable for marketers.

For example, TikTok is generally regarded as a social media platform. It focuses on short-form video and reaches younger generations. However, TikTok has more than 150 million active users, many of whom search for videos and information directly on the app. If each of these 150
million active users searches just four times per day, that’s 600 million searches per day. 

search engine platforms by daily active users. Google 250M, TikTok 150M, YouTube 122M, ChatGPT 50M.

Rethinking Search as a Marketing Channel

Change is hard, and most SEO professionals continue to focus exclusively on Google. I get it! Also, SEO for Google still works! Google is still the largest and most important in the search conversation. 

That said, focusing your efforts on Google exclusively is a huge missed opportunity. The way people search and discover information, products, and services has changed. The best way to get in front of your audience is to acknowledge and target a wide range of search platforms, including social media.

Organic search on Google is becoming more challenging and competitive, with more ads and fewer clicks, especially when AI results and instant answers appear. However, when you consider the search activity happening on social media, AI platforms, apps, and even games, search is very much alive and thriving! In fact, people are searching more than ever before.

The question is, has your SEO strategy evolved along with this shift in user behavior? 

Search On Social Platforms

Not only are social media and other search engine types becoming more popular, but they are also proving to be extremely effective in converting viewers into buyers. We’re finding more and more companies achieving wild success on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Meta, and even Bing. It all depends on your audience.

In recent years, there has been a notable shift in how users discover information. Users are moving from traditional search engines to social media platforms. 

This trend is particularly pronounced among younger generations like Gen Z and Millennials. Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram are increasingly being used as primary search engines. Gen Z, in particular, prefers these platforms for their search needs because they offer immediate, visual, and interactive content. A study by Adobe highlighted that over 2 in 5 Americans use TikTok as a search engine and nearly 1 in 10 Gen Zers are more likely to rely on TikTok than Google as a search engine.

The 2024 Social Trends Report from HubSpot notes that one in four consumers now prefer searching for brands on social media over search engines, and 22% search via social media more frequently than through traditional search engines. This trend is driven by the desire for engaging and easily accessible content, which social media platforms provide through short videos, stories, and interactive posts.

We can’t forget the role of AI in search. The AI market is projected to reach $298.24 billion in 2024 and is expected to grow to $1.84 trillion by 2030. Over 35% of companies are already using AI, with another 42% exploring its implementation (Mailbutler). 

While there are mixed feelings about the reliability of AI search results, there’s no denying that AI will continue to evolve and impact search. This includes its integration into traditional search engines like Google as well as standalone search applications.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to search anymore!

Trust and Authenticity

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One of the key reasons behind this shift is the perception of authenticity and trust associated with social media content. Users often view content on platforms like TikTok and Instagram as more genuine and less biased than traditional search results. Social media content, often generated by peers or influencers, appears more relatable and trustworthy​. 

Leading Search Platforms of Today 

If you truly want to “Rank Everywhere,” here are several platforms to consider when building a holistic SEO strategy. You don’t need to split your attention equally among all of them. The key is to identify where your audience is focusing their attention. This is not a comprehensive list, but these platforms are worth considering for most brands.

  • Google: Google processes approximately 8.5 billion searches every day. This vast number of searches is facilitated by an average of around 99,000 queries per second, highlighting Google’s dominant role in the global search engine market​ (SEO.ai)​.
  • YouTube: YouTube, (also a Google company) also experiences a significant volume of daily searches. According to recent estimates, YouTube processes about 3 billion searches per month. This translates to roughly 100 million searches per day (Marketing Scoop)​.
  • TikTok: TikTok has rapidly grown as a search platform, especially among younger users. The app handles around 150 million daily active users worldwide. Although specific search query numbers are not as readily available as those for Google and YouTube, it is clear that search activity on TikTok is substantial given its user base and engagement levels​ (DemandSage)​​ (Marketing Scoop)​.
  • Instagram: Instagram, another major platform for searches, particularly for hashtags, profiles, and places, has about 2 billion monthly active users. On a daily basis, Instagram sees around 200 million searches. This reflects the platform’s integration into users’ daily lives for discovering content and connecting with others​ (DemandSage)​​ (Marketing Scoop)​.
  • Reddit: Reddit, a hub for community-driven content, boasts around 52 million daily active users. With numerous subreddits covering a wide range of topics, it handles an estimated 46 million search queries daily. This highlights Reddit’s role as a go-to platform for diverse and in-depth discussions (Statista)​.
  • Amazon: Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, processes an immense number of search queries each day. It is estimated that Amazon handles over 200 million search queries daily. This reflects its dominance in the e-commerce space, where users constantly search for products and reviews (Statista)​.
  • Pinterest: Pinterest, known for its visual discovery and bookmarking capabilities, has around 450 million monthly active users. Daily, Pinterest sees approximately 5 million searches. Users frequently search for inspiration on various topics, from home decor to recipes, showcasing Pinterest’s role in idea generation and planning (Statista)​.
  • X.com (formerly Twitter): X.com, a leading social media platform for real-time news and updates, has about 396.5 million monthly active users. It handles roughly 2 billion search queries per day. This high volume of searches underscores its importance for users seeking immediate information and trending topics (Statista)​.
  • AI/ChatGPT & Meta AI: And we definitely can’t forget about AI tools which are certainly growing and are likely to continue growing at a fast pace! AI tools like ChatGPT are increasingly being used for various purposes, including search. As of 2024, more than 100 million people across 185 countries use ChatGPT weekly to find information, learn new things, and get creative inspiration​ (OpenAI)​. This usage highlights the growing integration of AI tools into daily activities, particularly for information retrieval and research.

    A significant portion of this adoption is driven by the tool’s ability to provide conversational answers and integrate information from various sources. The appeal of AI tools like ChatGPT lies in their ability to deliver personalized, context-aware responses that traditional search engines might not easily provide​ (Mailbutler)​.

SEO Adaptation for Brands

The shift from traditional search engines to social platforms for information discovery is driven by the demand for authentic, engaging, and trustworthy content. This requires brands to rethink their digital marketing strategies to align with the preferences of younger generations.

Forward-thinking brands and marketers are rolling with the changes by updating their content for social search. This means creating short, punchy videos and teaming up with influencers to boost visibility and trust. Being able to quickly adapt to these new trends and effectively use social platforms is becoming crucial for reaching younger audiences.

Social Media SEO

SEO for platforms like Instagram and TikTok is similar in some ways to SEO for Google, but with key differences that present unique opportunities. Although the algorithms on these platforms are rapidly evolving and improving, they remain less complex than traditional search engines. This simplicity allows for more straightforward optimization strategies that can significantly enhance your visibility and engagement.

Have you ever wished you could go back to the early days of Google? Back then, you could optimize for valuable terms using straightforward tactics like titles, descriptions, keyword tags, and “keyword density.” These simpler strategies were highly effective in boosting your site’s visibility and ranking.

Guess what? That’s exactly where we are with social search and, to some extent, AI.

More and more demand generation and education is moving to Social and AI. It’s time to take advantage of the new frontier of search! 

SEO Tips For Social Media

Optimizing for search on platforms like social media and AI-driven tools requires different strategies compared to traditional search engines. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Create Engaging Video Content:

Yes, you do have to create some new types of content! I know it’s hard, but guess what, it’s worth it! 

  • Use vertical video formats to fit mobile screens, which are the primary devices for social media consumption.
  • Keep videos short and to the point, ideally between 15-60 seconds, to retain viewer attention.
  • Add captions to your videos to make them accessible and to cater to users who watch without sound.

Leverage Trending Hashtags:

  • Research and use relevant trending hashtags to increase the discoverability of your content.
  • Create branded hashtags to build a community and encourage user-generated content.
  • Participate in trending challenges and themes to tap into existing popular conversations.

Collaborate with Influencers:

  • Partner with influencers who align with your brand values and have a strong following among your target audience.
  • Encourage influencers to create authentic content featuring your products or services, which can increase trust and engagement.
  • Utilize influencer takeovers to provide a fresh perspective and boost engagement on your social profiles.

Optimize Profile and Bio:

  • Ensure your profile is complete with a clear, concise bio that includes relevant keywords.
  • Use a recognizable profile picture, such as your brand logo, to make your account easily identifiable.
  • Include a link to your website or a specific landing page to drive traffic from your social profile.

Optimize Social Media with Keywords: 

  • Use relevant keywords in your captions, descriptions, and tags to improve searchability.
  • Take advantage of the “alt text” feature for images on platforms like Instagram to add descriptive keywords.
  • Optimize the names of your social media accounts to reflect your brand or the main keyword associated with your content.

Engage with Your Audience:

  • Respond to comments and messages promptly to foster a sense of community and increase engagement.
  • Use polls, questions, and interactive stickers in stories to encourage user interaction and gather insights.
  • Share user-generated content to show appreciation and build a stronger connection with your audience.

Post Consistently:

  • Maintain a consistent posting schedule to keep your audience engaged and aware of when to expect new content.
  • Use social media analytics to determine the best times to post for maximum reach and engagement.
  • Plan and schedule posts in advance using tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to ensure a steady stream of content.

The SEO Questions You Should Be Asking

If you want to start ranking everywhere your customers are, here are some of the most important questions you should be asking yourself. 

Where Are Your Customers Spending Their Time and What Apps and Platforms Are Capturing Their Attention?

Identify the social media platforms, apps, and websites your target audience frequents. Understanding where your customers spend their time helps you focus your marketing efforts on the right channels. 

For instance, Gen Z might prefer TikTok and Instagram, while older demographics might be more active on Facebook or LinkedIn. We have a client whose conversions are 2 times higher on Bing than on Google! This means we can make a big impact for this client with less total traffic. 

We also work with brands that built their business around a following on Instagram or TikTok. It would be foolish to tell these brands that they should focus all their attention on Google. Yet, so many search marketers are still doing exactly that! 

What Are Your Customers Searching For on These Platforms?

Figure out the types of content and information your audience is looking for on different platforms. This includes keywords, hashtags, and trending topics. Knowing this helps tailor your content to meet their interests and needs and increases the likelihood of engagement and discovery.

How Are Your Customers Making Purchasing Decisions?

Analyze the factors that influence your customers’ buying choices, such as reviews, influencer recommendations, or social proof. Understanding their decision-making process allows you to craft content that addresses their concerns and highlights your product’s benefits effectively.

What Type of Content Resonates Most with Your Audience?

Identify the content formats that generate the most engagement, whether it’s videos, blogs, stories, or posts. Knowing which type of content resonates helps you create more of what your audience loves and boosts engagement and visibility.

Who Are the Influencers in Your Industry?

Find out which influencers your audience follows and trusts. Collaborating with these influencers can amplify your reach and build credibility. Research their audience demographics to ensure alignment with your target market.

What Are Your Competitors Doing?

Study your competitors’ strategies on these platforms. Analyze their content, engagement tactics, and audience interactions to identify successful approaches and potential gaps you can fill.

How Do Platform Algorithms Affect Content Visibility?

Understand how algorithms on different platforms prioritize content. This knowledge helps optimize your posts for maximum reach. For example, Instagram favors high engagement rates while TikTok prioritizes fresh, trending content.

How Can You Leverage User-Generated Content?

Encourage and curate content created by your customers. User-generated content not only builds community and trust but also provides authentic testimonials and engagement opportunities.

How Can You Improve Customer Interaction and Engagement?

Develop strategies to enhance interaction with your audience, such as prompt responses to comments and messages, interactive polls, and Q&A sessions. Improved engagement builds stronger relationships and brand loyalty.

Ready to take your brand’s search strategy to the next level?

It’s time for your brand to rank everywhere!

Drop us a line! I’d love to personally chat with you about how SEO is evolving and discuss ways you can take advantage of these changes to improve your marketing strategy.

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