The Changing Face of Website Search & Discovery

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Everything is Now SEO

We’ve been in the internet industry building websites and apps for a long time now. Back in the early days of website marketing, it was the Wild Wild West. A little content, take care of your tags (heading, title, and description), maybe buy a few Pay-Per-Click ads … boom! Your website would get search ranking and clicks.

Those days are over.

The marketing term for everything from Search Engine Marketing (SEO) and influencer marketing to targeted banner ads and more is “discovery” — what it takes to have a new user and/or potential customer find you and your web site in the first place. It’s all the stuff that happens BEFORE they read the first word of content or even see the Call-to-Action (CTA) on your website. It has become the job of digital marketing pros to make that happen. So you have an army of marketing bending and tweaking and jiggering to get everyone to see their sites first. And unless you are inventing a brand new category of product or service, the competition is fierce.

For a decade now, social media marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk has been openly saying a well-known truth, “Marketers Ruin Everything.” When getting your attention first is the objective and when careers depend on it, it is no surprise that the battlefield gets messy with some folks skirting the edge of propriety and others adopting dastardly black-hat tactics in the pursuit of B2C and B2B eyeballs.

The good-news/bad-news of all of this is that Google — who controls nearly 83% of the search market — is aware. And while we are all frustrated with their lack of transparency and monopolistic tendencies, over the last two decades they have made grudging progress on delivering better search results. But equally so, the number of websites has increased exponentially over the same period.

“What’s Good for the User is Good for SEO”

I would love to give proper credit here, but this phrase has been repeated and paraphrased so many times in online marketing circles without attribution that I am afraid the source is lost to internet history (if you know who said it first, let us know). But the point is that this simple phrase is THE best central rule of online discovery for your website.

The VAST majority of content creators and marketers are focused on getting traffic. And to the casual ear, it sounds link this is exactly what a digital market should be doing. But the truth is that the total number of clicks is a false metric. What you need — what we all need — is the RIGHT traffic. We need folks who are genuinely interested in the topics, products, and services that are the purpose and focus of each page. Changing our attention from getting clicks to doing what is good for the user makes us do several important things:

  • We produce better content that has more value to the user.
  • We create better experiences so that users find the information they want easier and faster.
  • We will ensure that our websites are secure — frontend and backend.
  • We will respect our users’/visitors’ time and make pages load quickly.
  • We will worry a bit less about tracking our visitors so that we can remarket to them and more about satisfying their intent so they will want to stick around.

Isn’t That What Google Has Been Doing?

No, we are not naive enough to think that Google is acting altruistically. Google is in the profit business (duh!). And even though they know that they have a near-monopoly on search, they want to keep it that way. It is, for them, a two-edge sword.

  • All that Google search traffic not only sells gobs and gobs of ads (Ad revenue was up to >$67 billion in 2020), if gives them gobs and gobs of data that they sell as well. All those marketers that ruin everything? They are paying customers.
  • Google knows that if they let their guard down and provide results that are less valuable to users than the mental anguish “cost” of having to suffer through all those ads, the customers will use it les. They make go to Amazon to search (more and more common) or even (gasp!) start using a competing search engine like Bing or DuckDuckGo.

All this means that Google is walking a finely-tuned digital tightrope strung between the customers who use their services and the marketers who pay the bills with cash.

What Does This Mean for My Business?

Glad you asked. It means EVERYTHING is now SEO.


Google can’t afford to have the websites or ads they display in search results cause a user to get ripped off or have their data stolen. So, Google punishes sites that are known/suspected un-secure. Security is still job #1, but know security is a marketing issue. Think SSL certificates and sound security best practices.


It not just how many links you have pointing to your site or how many sites your content points to. Google measure the reputation and authority of the sites in your link chain. Google suspects that any site linked to sites with bad reputations might create bad experiences for users and searchers by proxy.

Content Quality

It no longer a game of “who has the most content.” Long-form or short-form, the quality of the content matters. Quality content attracts quality refers that will increase your domain authority score.

Code Quality

Last month we wrote extensively about Google Page Speed Insights and the new Web Core Vitals. This matters because Google knows that when a user arrives on a web page and it loads too slow or jumps around it gives a bad experience. If your site loads too slowly or has what they call excessive “cumulative layout shift,” users will look for results somewhere else.

Mobile is Different from Desktop

Google measures a website differently for the desktop experience than it does for a mobile device experience. We hear industry gurus and business say ”mobile first” a lot. But Google doesn’t see it that way. They see mobile AND Desktop first. If your website performs well on desktops by not on mobile, they will penalize your results. And they will also penalize you if you perform on mobile but are slow on desktops. That’s why they provide two separate scores. And that’s also why we wrote an entire article called “Mobile Fist, But Not Mobile Only.”


SEO is no longer a separate task relegated to marketing. Thanks to Google algorithm updates, SEO is inextricably linked to solid website security and code quality. In short, “What’s good for the user is good for SEO,” and that means that now everything is SEO.

If you need help getting your websites or apps up to speed, just let us know. We are always happy to help.

Links and Resources

Gary Vaynerchuk quoted in Inc. Magazine, “Marketers ruin everything:”

Google Control 92.53% of the Search market:

Our Article on Google Page Speed Insights Core Web Vitals:

Ad Revenue of Google, Facebook, and Amazon in 2020 per The Wall Street Journal:

Our Article on Developing Websites for Both Desktops AND Mobile Devices:

Contact IowaComputerGurus: