What Is The Metaverse? The Brains Discuss The Importance Of Search Experience Optimisation

Remember when early internet searches were purely text-based? Simpler times. Well, bigger wheels are in motion and things are set to change – in a significant way. We’re living in a brave new world, and with it comes a deeper, more visual, reality-enhancing internet. Do not adjust your set; in fact, don’t get too attached to it, because pretty soon you may not need it. But, really… what is the metaverse? Buzzword, video game, concept, dystopian collapse of law and order… more to the point, what does it mean for marketing?

what is the metaverse - The Brains
May 10, 2022
15 mins to read
what is the metaverse - The Brains

The next stride forward for the internet is to take things visual. Don’t just take our word for it: that’s the reason why the big tech giants like Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebo – sorry, we mean Meta, after that eyebrow-raising rebrand in 2021 – are investing in visual technologies. 

The science is there to back that up. It’s often pointed out (by Business 2 Community and Entrepreneur, among countless others) that the human brain processes an image 60,000 times faster than text. Neuroscientists at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) found that the brain can identify images in as little as 13 milliseconds, and Thermopylae report that 90% of the information transmitted to the human brain is visual. 

We humans are overwhelmingly visual creatures; by our very nature, images are, for the majority of us, the primary pathway to perceiving the world. 

Considering the new capabilities made possible by technological advancements, the internet’s visual revolution is right on time. Just look at the growing popularity of AR (Augmented Reality) systems. Google Lens, for instance, allows users to search what they see in real time, using the internet to explore things in a new way. 

But going forward, the shiny new metaverse platform is set to fire the visual revolution to a whole new level. 

Though quite a bit of the detail remains hazy, the metaverse has the potential to fundamentally change the way people use the internet. We’re talking about a total sea change in terms of usage and engagement. One thing that won’t change, though, is the fact that people will continue using the internet to search for stuff. It’s just the way we search for information that will change. 

For your company, this opens up a new chapter of your marketing, where the challenge is as big as the opportunity. As the metaverse takes hold and the internet goes visual, you need to position your brand and your business in a way that leverages the maximum potential benefit of XR possibilities (Extended Reality, an umbrella term referring to immersive technologies like Virtual, Mixed and Augmented Reality). 

If right now, you’re thinking, ‘slow down – just exactly what is the metaverse again?’, you’ve come to the right place. Here at The Brains, London’s leading full-service digital agency, we’ve got you covered. This post aims to bust the jargon and walk you through what the metaverse is, what it does, why it’s important and how society might use it, before we dive into some of the ways you could leverage it for optimal performance. Let’s go future-gazing.

Welcome to a Virtual World: How to Get Into The Metaverse

Though the term has been bandied about in the offices of Silicon Valley over recent years, ‘the metaverse’ as a concept was first envisioned in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel, Snow Crash. The novel tells the story of people who, disillusioned with their dystopian reality, use the metaverse as a means of escape and exploration.

In modern times, the way we currently conceive of the metaverse – or at least, the way we plan it to be – is as a vast digital plane of existence, mirroring our physical reality. A merging of digital and physical worlds; a seamless, reality-enhancing existence where the virtual and physical worlds overlap. Could something like that really come true? 

Well… maybe. Not yet, in any case. Something like that is a fair way down the pipeline, and some respected heads in the digital industry question whether it’s actually possible at all. In any case, the best way to think about the metaverse right now is as a 3D version of the internet. The idea is a digital world where users live out their digital lives; people will have an avatar, and interact with other digital avatars, engaging in unique experiences in a virtual space. That’s the idea, anyway. 

The metaverse isn’t intended to be a single technology or system, and it’s a far grander plan than developing photorealistic digital humans. When you ask the question, how to get into the metaverse, we must recognise that we are in fact already in it. This complex technology is more than just a video game; we’re talking about an embodied internet, a full-scale shift in the way people use it. Metaverse platforms will be built in a virtual space that exists and functions all the time, not only when we are logged into it, and it’ll operate across one, singular, unified network. The metaverse will draw on Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and other Extended Reality technologies we probably don’t even see coming yet, as well as existing technology like our phone and PC capabilities, to construct virtual worlds. And in this digital world, the cornerstones and landmarks will be founded upon features of the real world. That means your house, Wembley Stadium, or the Apple Store in the centre of London. 

If that sounds like a lot; it is. And there’s more. The metaverse will also manifest a digital economy where users create and trade virtual items and entities. In the most starry-eyed ambitions for the metaverse, it’ll be interoperable, meaning that users can take their possessions and assets seamlessly between platforms. In other words: you buy a fresh pair of Nikes in the morning, and sport them digitally to a metaverse-hosted gig that evening. 

At this point, gamers might tilt their heads toward Minecraft and Fortnite, and say that virtual worlds like that already exist; Mojang Studios and Epic Games invented them. But while it’s true that a video game like Fortnite (along with the big tech giants) are helping to build the future of the metaverse, to say that Fortnite is the metaverse would be a bit like saying the cow pen is the farm. Though it does make up one part, there’s a lot beyond those fences, and the horizon of possibilities gets unimaginably wider once you start opening gates.

what is the metaverse - The Brains

How & Why Access the Virtual Worlds of the Metaverse?

At this point, you may be imagining an electric blue, faintly-humming portal you simply step through and, boom, you’re in the metaverse. Sorry to say, that kind of Star Trek tech is not even close to being achieved, if it’s even possible at all. 

Every step forward made by the internet has been built on key innovations, whether hardware or software related, and the metaverse is no different. It is riding forward on twin waves: advanced motion-tracking technology, and unprecedentedly massive servers. There is the exciting possibility that the metaverse will soon allow thousands, or even millions, of users to interact and engage simultaneously. 

So, advanced wearable technology like the eye-wateringly expensive Valve Index (or not so advanced, in the case of Google Cardboard), combined with gigantic servers capable of supporting the population of a decent-sized city, are likely to be the way we enter the metaverse, rather than any futuristic space-age portals. 

Looks like we won’t be saying goodbye to those cumbersome and controversial Augmented Reality glasses or Virtual Reality headsets anytime soon: we’ve all heard the scary potential health concerns and behavioural impacts those XR technologies can cause, and that’s not to mention all those broken windows and smashed TVs

Perhaps that helps explain why, until now, the tech companies have shown how people will use the metaverse by not really showing it at all. Holographics, swimming in digital space… the things we saw in Mark Zuckerberg’s flashy metaverse demonstration were largely artistic renderings, we’re afraid to say. Don’t expect to hold a digital can of coke with your real-life hands anytime soon. 

Which brings us around to the question: why enter the metaverse, apart from to try it out? One answer lies in cryptocurrency. Conversations around the metaverse are, and will continue to be, a hotbed of excitement for people involved in things like bitcoin (digital files containing value) or NFTs (non-fungible tokens, essentially units of data that can be sold or traded). The metaverse opens the possibility for a kind of virtual stock exchange, where digital assets carry real-world value with widespread useability. 

Another key application of the metaverse will be in education. You know how people say that the best way to learn something is by doing it? The metaverse is about to revolutionise the way we learn. Take the healthcare sector, for example. Students will have the opportunity to study and practice surgeries in an immersive, lifelike-but-riskless environment. And, speaking of healthcare, the metaverse can also facilitate ‘face-to-face’, real-time consultations with a doctor – irrespective of location. 

And there are exciting new possibilities in the worlds of gaming and entertainment, too. One thing it’s important to touch on, though, is the element of safety. How can we ensure that everyone is secure and protected while they go about their digital business in the metaverse? Humans, sadly, have a poor track record when it comes to behaving well to each other in online spaces – take a look at practically any YouTube comments section for the evidence. Moreover, there have been some alarming and disturbing reports of abuse occurring within metaverse spaces.

Another potential area of concern is state or organisation-sponsored monitoring of a population. It’s not a paranoid fantasy to imagine that the metaverse could be the most effective mass surveillance tool in history. That is a frightening, but feasible, possibility. 

The question of whether the metaverse is safe really boils down to whether we trust tech, and the way others use it. Spotify collects mountains of data about our music preferences and listening behaviours; do we trust them not to cynically monetise or leverage that information? We use mapping apps to navigate the world; can we be confident that those apps won’t lead us down some dark alleys, or walk us right into danger? 

Ultimately, while there is a definite burden of responsibility on developers to create a metaverse which is safe for everyone to use, concerns about its security rest on us, and the way we as a culture decide to use it.

The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionise Everything, including Optimisation

With the looming prospect of the metaverse, in some form, becoming a large part of our future with the internet, there are new opportunities in digital marketing. Companies like Apple, Meta and Google have woken up to the possibilities and the value of metaverse technologies and, as a business owner, it’s essential that you consider the best ways to position your brand within this space. 

Just as, once upon a time, every business needed a website to avoid becoming old-hat, every business will soon need a metaverse presence in order to stay relevant. It will soon become essential to integrate SEO strategies to support business marketing in the metaverse. 

As a proven and successful full-service agency, our Brains know just how dramatic the impact of the metaverse is going to be. SEO Strategist James McGarrie, in a recent press release, commented: 

“Augmented reality and the metaverse will play a huge part in future SEO strategies. As we know, Google values content that serves a purpose to its users and ranks it accordingly. To use AR and the metaverse to a businesses’ advantage, we are going to have to consider how we not only create viable SEO strategies to appeal to the metaverse but also the content to drive the engagement to businesses in this virtual world. We see huge potential in this space” 

Below, we’ve pulled together the expertise of our Brain-powered marketing pros to outline 5 potential metaverse marketing strategies, to help you prepare and future-proof your digital marketing efforts.

  • Take ownership of powerful domains 

When Facebook rebranded itself to Meta, it didn’t take them long to snap up an ultra-relevant domain. Similarly, although they say it wasn’t motivated by the metaverse, Microsoft have recently bought out Activision, opening the possibility of their own opportunities within the metaverse. 

It’s about ownership. Companies which are quick off the mark to put their stamp on new, metaverse-related domains, or to bring potential big players under their wing, stand to capitalise on owning those assets as we move forward. 

Effective SEO marketing targets, and will always target, specific domains. The more relevant the domain is to the search query, the better chance you stand of gaining traction. For you, that may mean buying up metaverse-related domain names in your industry space, before someone else does; or sounding out possible partners about potentially combining your powers to take on the metaverse.

  • Leverage the power of directories

Within the scope of current marketing, you can upload information about your business and various locations to platforms like Google, Bing or Microsoft. Google Business Profile is a good example of this. In that case, the information is stored in Google’s directory and, the more filled-out it is, the more likely it is to be prioritised in searches. As the metaverse takes hold, this kind of specific, localised business information will only become more powerful, and so metaverse-optimised directory data will become an essential touchpoint between your business and your customers. 

The best way to take advantage of this is to continually ensure all your directory information is as complete as possible. Stay on top of algorithm updates and industry changes – a good full-service agency can help you there. Pay particular attention to visuals, as that’s primarily how people will receive information in the metaverse. 

  • Continue to produce high-engagement content

Whatever shape the metaverse takes, in terms of creating online traction, good content will always be king. As more and more people become users of the metaverse, there will be a phenomenal number of businesses competing for attention, and we can expect each one to have quality, emotive, unignorable content positioned to reel in the potential customers. 

The way we interact with the internet may be changing but good old-fashioned content marketing isn’t going anywhere. Search engines will always reward content with high engagement. Stay alive to new content possibilities afforded by the metaverse and aim to put out valuable, engaging stuff. It’ll be the best way to attract people to your corner of the metaverse, and you’ll set yourself up to make hay while the competition is playing catch-up. Professional content strategists can consult with you about the best ways to attract, convert and re-engage customers time after time.  

  • Aim to stay high in the search rankings

As we said earlier, people love using the internet to search for stuff – Oberlo report that, staggeringly, Google processes 99,000 search queries every second. Search engines are the go-between for people and their desired information; they are how we connect ourselves with what we want to know. With the metaverse providing deeper, richer, more textured and visually-enhanced search experiences, it will be essential for you to rank well in this new virtual space to attract organic traffic. 

In terms of search guidelines and best practices, it’s likely that what is true now, will be true tomorrow; that includes elements such as good crawlability, an effective sitemap, quality content and accurate indexing, among others. In addition, remember to stay on top of search engine updates and changes. If the idea is that search engines will one day be their own metaverse experience, it’ll be essential to put out the right signals in order for them to rank you highly.

  • A word on hardware

It’s almost inevitable that as the metaverse becomes more widely-used, there will be various new devices and hardware created to facilitate its usage. Whilst this is exciting for those interested in cutting-edge technology, the potential rub is that people will be unable to fully use and enjoy the metaverse without this-or-that specific piece of hardware. Metaverse-geared SEO strategies should stay aware of the latest devices and prepare to accommodate them as they gain popularity.

Your Marketing Future Starts Now

Hopefully, now you have a better idea of what the metaverse is, the role this virtual universe could play in the internet of tomorrow, and the various ways switched-on marketers can prepare to be front-of-the-line when businesses start optimising for its new possibilities. 

Right now, a lot of the details surrounding the metaverse are up in the air. As ever with emerging technologies, it marches under the banner of the tech giants; the systems, devices and issues that companies like Google, Amazon and Meta invest their time and resources into, will dictate the direction of the metaverse. 

Of course, the rise of the metaverse is not the only digital advancement set to change marketing – far from it. The fact is, technology never sits still for long, and sometimes it seems like every other day there’s a new platform, algorithm update, or hardware consideration to incorporate into your digital marketing. We’re talking about a big tray with a lot of drinks on it; it can be a lot to handle. And that’s where we come in. 

Here at The Brains, digital marketing is what we do best and we’re well-placed to help you get to grips with new technologies. Every day, our clients enjoy the benefits of the data-driven, ROI-boosting campaigns we put in place. Each and every campaign we put our name to is custom-made for optimal success, and our award-winning Brainy marketing methods can help you thrive in the online space, no matter what advancements are waiting around the bend. 

Reach out to us today and find out how our smart, Brainy-by-nature marketing strategies can transform your business.

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