The story of SEO is, in many ways, a saga of tech industry giants battling it out and playing an endless game of chess with each new announcement and update. Google, Apple, Facebook, and others are calling the shots – the rest of us are just along for the ride.
The big question is: how do we react and respond to these choices made by those pulling the levers in Silicon Valley? In every new chapter, there are winners and losers, and adjustments are made across the board.
This past year’s announcement of iOS 14 from Apple is a perfect example of an update that has the internet marketing community split right down the middle. While many advertisers are up in arms, organic SEO purists like GR0’s Kevin Miller see a silver lining.
Here’s what Miller has to say about the implications of iOS 14 and what we can expect to change in the world of SEO moving forward.
Changes to IDFA Policy and Audience Network
Aside from aesthetic and performance improvement to the beloved iPhone operating system, the announcement of iOS 14 last year made waves for its policy regarding Identification for Advertisers, also known as IDFA.
With IDFA, app publishers and advertisers had direct access to key information about users who downloaded apps from Apple’s native store. This allowed for highly targeted ads and marketing campaigns to users of Facebook, Instagram, and other major players.
Now, iOS 14 is switching up the policy, allowing users to decide whether or not they want to give this information away – a choice they didn’t have previously.
The pushback from companies is understood, especially in a marketing world driven by paid ads and personalization strategies based on large amounts of data collected through iPhones. However, thought leaders like Kevin Miller see the silver lining.
“I think iPhone users should have the decision to opt-out of IDFA if they want, since that seems like the ethical move,” said Miller. “Does this make things harder for advertisers in the short term? Yes, but it marks a big moment for organic SEO and all who practice it.”
Organic SEO is focused on the optimization of on-page web content to drive organic traffic, build large catalogs of backlinks, and enjoy higher rankings in the Google search engine.
Default Browsers and Other Search Engines
Anytime we think search, we think Google, right? Well, the iOS 14 update might be shaking up the status quo when it comes to the search engines we use on our iPhones.
Google is definitely pleased with the introduction of the configurable default browser option in iOS 14, which allows iPhone users to switch from Safari to Google as their go-to engine.
Considering that Google already has over 92% of the market share in search, this change might appear negligible, but when we’re talking about search volume in the billions, it all adds up.
But there’s an interesting caveat here – Google isn’t the only option on the menu. DuckDuckGo, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge are also options for default browsers, which could lead to some interesting developments moving forward.
“Once again, giving users more control over their technology is always a good thing, since it lets people make decisions for themselves with regard to search,” said Miller. “However, this could reconfigure the search engine market quite a bit, especially with privacy issues at the forefront right now.”
DuckDuckGo, for example, has positioned itself as the “private” browser alternative to Google, which opens up a whole new domain for search and will require companies to think about their organic SEO game plan from square one.
There might not be a massive migration from Google to DuckDuckGo in iOS 14, but now that the option is available, brands competing for rankings online cannot ignore the facts.
“It’s sort of like the wild west of search all over again,” Miller said. “Brands will go back to the drawing board and reconsider their SEO strategies on different search engines.”
Googlebot Now Speaks HTTP/2
The final piece of the iOS 14 announcement is more technical. HTTP/2, an upgraded version of HTTP, will be crawlable by Googlebot, encouraging websites to make the leap to this new protocol.
HTTP/2 is considerably more efficient than its predecessor and will have key advantages like faster load times, reduced latency, and better use of network resources.
From an SEO perspective, this means that HTTP/2-enabled web pages could have an edge over the last generation of architecture, and encourage websites to make the leap sooner than later.
“There may not be a clear benefit for Googlebot to crawl over HTTP/2 sites right now, but this announcement is putting it on everyone’s radar – speed and efficiency matter to the algorithm,” said Miller, whose GR0 organic SEO agency specializes in on-page optimization.
In addition to white-hat SEO practices like content writing, link-building, reporter outreach, and PR management, technical SEO upgrades like HTTP/2 will play key roles in determining the next generation of search engine winners.
The Future of iOS 14 and Beyond
With iOS 14, organic SEO gets a big thumbs-up from the techies in charge.
However, the battle for top spots in the rankings will become more heated than ever – if not now, certainly in the near future. It will take some time to see the results play out, Miller predicts.
“There were definitely some shockwaves across the industry when these changes were announced, and it took a while for brands to take stock and readjust,” said Miller. “In the next few months and years, we’ll see major shifts toward organic SEO.”
Fortunately for Miller, he is in the right place at the right time as CEO and Co-Founder of GR0, a Los Angeles-based digital marketing agency specializing in organic SEO best practices.
Miller’s growing team of strategists, writers, and technical SEO experts are perfectly positioned to capitalize on the changes to iOS 14, and other moves predicted to stack the odds in their favor as organic SEO pioneers.
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