We all know that Google’s algorithms influence search, but have you considered the other external factors that could impact how your customers find you?
When we talk, in the SEO sense, about search factors, very often we are referring to the guidelines laid down by the almighty Google that may (or may not) help your website to be found in search. These include the content on your website and how relevant it is to what you are trying to sell, the backlinks pointing to your site and the authority of the referring domains and how you encrypt and code your website.
These might be fairly obvious to those in digital marketing, or anyone who has had a website for some time and has employed an external company to optimise it for search. What isn’t so obvious is that these are not the only things that are influencing search.
Here we explore four of the external factors that you may not realise are influencing how people might find your brand online:
Brands running local or national television campaigns can expect to see an uplift in their website traffic during and after their ads have aired, as people go online to search for more information on the products or services they have just seen on TV. However, this isn’t the only way in which television can influence search. Consider the products that are endorsed by celebrities during programmes – it isn’t just these brands for whom awareness will be heightened but also for anyone offering a similar product or solution. Doing your research in advance and knowing what’s coming up in the TV schedule may enable you to take advantage of this spike in awareness to ensure you’re in all the right places – i.e. with a prominent paid advertising campaign – when these viewers start searching.
In marketing, being aware of the latest trends is key if you are going to stay in touch with what your target audience wants. Search is very much dictated by trends, as we often see language evolving so that certain words or terms fall out of favour with an audience. Those keywords that you might have focused on five or ten years ago, may no longer be the terms people are using when searching for your products or services. As the generations evolve, new slang creeps into our language and the mega brands dominate the way we think about everyday items, it’s only to be expected that the way we describe products or services may change. TOP TIP – use Google Trends to see what terms are rising and falling in popularity so you can ensure your website, marketing and advertising campaigns capitalise on the latest lingo.
Over the last ten years, mobile devices have probably had a bigger impact on search than anything (even Panda and Penguin I hear you ask?) because they have totally changed the way we consume media. Whereas before we would have to be in front of a PC or television to be influenced by online marketing and advertising, it is now all around us as the powers of remarketing follow us on our journey through various apps and sites as we check the weather on our mobile phone or catch up on our favourite programmes on our tablets.
The most successful brands have adapted their marketing strategies to be ‘mobile first’ and are capitalising on this by ensuring that their websites can be found well for their most relevant search terms. In short, not making your website structure, functionality and content mobile friendly will see Google put you bottom of the pile when it comes to search rankings.
Remember – Whilst many of us claim to find interruptive advertising offensive we also get very easily distracted by our mobile devices (and their various bleeping notifications), making the path to purchase anything but straightforward. Brands have a fine line to tread if they are going to catch us at the right time and in a receptive mood!
IoT and the growth of voice search
As the gadgets around us become more intelligent and the use of mobile devices continues to rise, the way that we search for the products and services we need also changes. Many typical households nowadays would not find it strange to ask Alexa ‘what’s the weather forecast today?’, whilst many drivers will consider it the norm to use the integrated voice search facility in their vehicle to find the nearest takeaway on their way home. The way that we search, now that we’re speaking more of our queries, means that search terms feature more natural language and are often presented in full sentences or questions rather than staccato phrases or words. Smart brands who want to take advantage of this changing structure of search queries will need to optimise their websites to feature these phrases and to answer these questions.
So, as you can see, it isn’t just algorithms that are influencing search. Sometimes it is the wider revolutions in society and technology that change the way people look for the solutions they need. All you need to do, is make sure you keep up with the times.
If your company has been using only traditional marketing methods to generate new business, you need to read this!
2017 is the year of change and improvements. Marketing strategies have grown beyond word of mouth and Facebook posts. Let us show you how your business can reach new heights using digital marketing strategies.
Why Digital Marketing?
- First and foremost, digital marketing is a tremendously cheaper marketing method than the traditional offline methods – just think about those print runs, radio campaigns and television ads that you couldn’t afford 15 years ago! Digital marketing is much more accessible, even for those with small marketing budgets.
- It’s a great way to increase your online market share
- **According to Hubspot By 2016, more than 50% of money spent in the US will be influenced by online marketing campaigns. ** How long before we can say the same thing here in the UK?
What is a digital strategy?
Having a digital strategy is, in essence, a plan. It allocates time and money to all the relevant platforms and helps you to gain insight into statistical data which will help you to reach your goals. Market your business using multiple platforms like Social media, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Email Marketing, SEO PR, and so much more.
How to begin building a digital strategy
- The first thing you need to do is be clear on your aims and objectives.
- Analyse how your company performed in the previous year.
- Research your target audience and preferred digital media channels
- Create your content
- Allocate paid advertising budgets
- Create a timeline
- Evaluate and improve your strategy
Why you NEED to set aside a budget for an SEO and digital marketing company to help you
- By now, you must understand the importance of digital marketing. One thing that will help you reach that increased ROI is a thorough and well thought out digital marketing strategy.
- It can be a daunting task to do yourself
- You’ll save money in the long run
- Work alongside a professional to gain a fresh perspective
- Utilise their resources and evaluation techniques
2013 was a year that saw numerous events that had a massive impact on SEO and online marketing as a whole. In the past, SEO was essentially about two things; keywords and links. However, this led to large amounts of keyword saturation and link building, not to mention, quite a considerable amount of attempts to game against the system, using what we call ‘black hat’ SEO techniques. Over the past year, Google has made some major algorithm changes that have changed the direction of SEO and online marketing as a whole.
September 2013 was a big month for online marketing, with two major changes to search putting nails in the coffin of the keyword salesman:
First of all, Google switched to https:// privacy settings, meaning that all ever increasing amounts of keyword search queries would show up as ‘Not Provided’ in Analytics. This means that although anyone who uses Google to search for keywords or phrases that might lead to your website can still do so, however, you do not have access to this data. Whilst keyword search data is no longer available for organic search, in a further effort by Google to protect their Adwords revenue, keyword data continues to be available for paid search.
Secondly, Google surprised everyone by announcing the release of a brand new algorithm with no warning. Many argue that Hummingbird will prove to be the biggest change in Google’s algorithm since the beginning. The main purpose of Hummingbird is to allow Google to be able to interpret much more ‘conversational’, semantic language, understanding the intent of a search rather than just recognising short keywords.
The introduction of Hummingbird could be linked with the ever increasing popularity of mobile search. Many people prefer to use voice search on their mobile devices, talking directly into the handset to find what they need. We have started to search questions, not keywords. This means that people are less likely to use short-tail keywords, and are instead likely to search using full sentences that are more familiar to our everyday speech.
Hummingbird plays a big part in changing the way that SEO and online marketing is sold. The future of SEO is no longer based on keywords, but how keywords form a relationship to the intent of a targeted search. Whereas in the past, many in the online marketing community could get away with keyword stuffing to a certain level, the introduction of Hummingbird brings about the importance of online marketers producing more quality, detailed, long form articles that are designed to answer long-tail search phrases.
It could be argued that we are yet to fully see the real extent of Hummingbird’s impact online marketing, however, with search engines adapting to the way that we are now using long-tailed and question-like search queries, Hummingbird has undoubtedly set the stage for a future that is centred on mobile search. Online marketers must therefore adapt their strategies away from short keywords and push out more and more semantic-influenced content in order to capture more traffic. In 2014, we can only expect to see the increasing impact of Hummingbird.
Last week was a big week in online marketing. It began when Google took away keyword data from organic reporting and finished with the unleashing of its biggest algorithm change in 12 years – worried what this might mean for you? Then please, read on.
So let’s start with the algorithm change – the very wording of which will strike fear into the online marketers and customers who have seen their sites penalised in one way or another by the big two black and white beasts: Panda and Penguin. Hummingbird, however is not like it’s two land-based rivals, as Hummingbird is the big algorithm that our furry friends are part of. It’s main purpose is to allow Google to compute complex search queries such as full sentences. The fact that it has arrived now may be partly due to the fact that voice search on mobile devices is becoming more popular and somehow when talking directly into our devices to find something that we need, we’re unlikely to use staccato phrases such as ‘Italian restaurants Birmingham’ and instead opt for something more familiar to our speech patterns such as ‘find me an Italian restaurant in central Birmingham’.
Wouldn’t it be great then if Google could compute this data demonstrate in our analytics reports all of the long tail variations and complex questions that people have used to find our websites? Well it would, but it won’t happen and this is a direct result of the first drama of last week – the loss of keyword data for organic search.
If you read my blog post last week you’ll know that Google moved all search to https – thus encrypting all data before it can hit any analytics tools (not just Google analytics but any tool that uses data from Google search to report on traffic and keywords, etc). Hence, not provided is, or will shortly be, the only keyword that you will see.
What they have given us in one hand they have taken away with the other – or more correctly what they took away last Monday night means there’s nothing really positive to say about the bird that fluttered by at the end of the week.
Hummingbird, it is said, will ‘better understand’ the meaning behind the words – so as I sit here I am typing in ‘find me an alternative search engine that gives me the information I need to deliver better online marketing strategies and not just one that is interested in revenue from paid advertising.’ Compute that Google!
Posted by Frances Berry