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.
In digital marketing we have spent a lot of time over the last few years talking about personalisation. When we first started in the big, scary world of SEO (because back then that’s all there really was), content was created to be delivered via the huge dissemination powers of the internet to whoever might come across it. In effect, this was a massive platform on which you could have your say and potentially reach whoever.
Then came Google apocalypse or whatever you want to call the myriad of changes to search that forced everyone (and not before time) to stop manipulating search with crap content and start delivering words, messages and visual media that meant something to the brand. To create content that would engage audiences to the point where they simply have to share it and let others benefit too.
Fast forward to today, where the personalisation of content is virtually impossible to avoid. Google personalises SERPs based on whether or not you are logged in, plus a million other variables which none of us outside the Google circle of trust actually understand. Facebook delivers content based on what we have already liked and engaged with, to the point where a best friend from school that you haven’t engaged in Facebook conversation with recently could announce the birth of their first child and you would miss it because your news feed is prioritising what Tracey had for dinner last night. Netflix tries to tell us what films we’d like to watch and thanks to loyalty cards, your favourite supermarket knows how much wine you drink each week, whether you prefer red or white and how often you have to top up your stash.
Whilst on the surface, this level of personalisation seems to be delivering information that is more useful to us as consumers, when you dig a little deeper you start to realise that someone is putting the blinkers on you. Consider that personalisation is narrowing down our views, rather than doing what the internet is supposed to do – expose us to a wide range of opinions and experiences. By only seeing the content that has been tailored for us, we start to see that single view point as the norm, as the general consensus of the populous, when in actual fact we could be losing touch on what is really happening.
Still, personalisation is a good thing, isn’t it?
Not always. In a recent study – Digital Innovation: Surviving the Next Wave of Change, YouGov – almost half (45%) of British consumers said they were not comfortable with personalisation of the information, recommendations and advertising they receive.
Much of this discontent could be put down to brands personalising on low frequency searches – just because you have searched once for something doesn’t mean you are happy to be bombarded with remarketing messages for the next three weeks. Timing is also key. Just because you purchased a product today, it doesn’t mean you will be interested in refills, replacement parts or add-ons tomorrow. Patience is the key to personalising your offering.
So even if you take this advice, time your offer correctly, target it in the right place and don’t overdo it. How can you be sure you are even reaching your potential audience?
Well, you can’t.
The pitfall of personalisation is that you may not even be able to reach your potential audience because they are stuck in their own ‘echo chamber’, where the only voice they hear is their own. Where the content they consume has already been personalised (narrowed down) for them by their purchasing and online browsing preferences. Where the only opinions echoed back to them are their own, because there are no other beliefs within their pigeon hole.
Still think personalisation is a good thing?
To be honest I don’t think we can put the brakes on the personalisation bus as brands are just too ‘into’ it. But what we can do, as consumers, is keep an open mind. This means sometimes reading content that is out of our normal safety zone, because there could well be a whole host of products and services out there that would suit us down to the ground but they just can’t penetrate the box we’ve become trapped in.
As 2016 draws to a close we’ve got time to reflect back on another year in the digital sphere. 2016 has provided some great opportunities to get your brand out there but it has also been challenging at times, as we come to accept the changes that are constantly put in place by the giants of the internet.
The big online marketing changes of 2016
Some of the changes we’ve witnessed this year include:
- The introduction of mobile-first indexing – Google recently announced that it is experimenting with this and that eventually:
“our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”
So, if your site is not mobile friendly you will almost certainly eventually disappear from organic search and if you don’t prioritise mobile content you may become less visible.
- The rise and growth of global spam referral visits – skewing analytics reporting and generally getting in the way of genuine traffic. There are several ways to remove this data and filter the traffic, however, experts never quite got to grips with which method was best. Ultimately it seems easier to ignore what you cannot affect and concentrate instead on your own goals, how you plan to reach them and how you’ll measure the effectiveness of a given campaign.
- The boost given to HTTPS pages – at the end of 2015 Google announced that it had changed the indexation system to look for more https pages and the popularity of secure sites has subsequently increased in 2016.
- The removal of ads from the right-hand side of the page in Google search – initial reports seemed to suggest that PLA ads benefited from increased placement and that right-hand ads were never favoured by searchers anyway, but with 10 months gone since the changes were made we haven’t seen any major dramas as a result of this change. Those worried that paid search would become more ‘cut throat’ had a right to be wary, however, CPCs continue to rise anyway and it is more about what you can do with your budget and how targeted you can make your campaign in terms of text, display and video advertising, than it is about the number of ad slots available.
- The introduction of rich cards – building on the successes of rich snippets, rich cards use schema.org markup to display content in an even more engaging way. This is perfect for sites sharing recipes and any other image rich information that you want to stand out in search.
- The continued decline of Facebook organic reach – further to the declining organic reach of the last couple of years, 2016 really saw a nail in the coffin to an organic-only Facebook strategy with publishers’ pages experiencing a 52% decline in organic reach. This means that no matter how many people like your page, a large proportion of them are not going to see the important content you have created, often with them in mind. This is because Facebook needs a way of picking out the posts that keep people coming back. With a new algorithm in June, favouring friends and family in the news feeds, it was a further blow to brands trying to reach and engage their target audience via the social network. All is not lost though, as we are still seeing really good improvements in engagement, reach and referral traffic from our customer’s Facebook pages. Video is also tipped to be a great way to increase engagement so the more video content you can get onto your social pages the more likely you are to retain that audience visibility.
Instagram users have also witnessed a decline in organic reach in 2016 and just last week, Youtube sensation and top account holder PewDiePie announced that he would be shutting down his channel on reaching 50million subscribers as changing algorithms mean fewer people are now seeing his videos.
So, where does that leave us?
Digital Marketing Trends 2017
The New Year will no doubt present its own new challenges but there will also be great opportunities to exploit new technologies and trends. We predict that the following will be key factors to successful digital marketing in 2017:
- Automation – not so much that your activity becomes robotic but just enough so that customers don’t have to wait for an initial response and that content can be drip fed into the public domain even when the offices are closed.
- Continuity – with the very real threat of your social pages being deleted if you stop updating them (Facebook has threatened to do this on a couple of redundant customer accounts this year) and the fact that the consumer can spot a mile off if you are up-to-date and or inactive from the prevalence or lack of blog and social updates, continuity in terms of your marketing strategy has never been more important.
- Integration – many businesses still view marketing channels in isolation but given that the average purchase is usually achieved through a combination of media – including paid search, organic search, social media referral and direct return visit – it is crazy to think of all these channels at your disposal as separate tools. Combine them in the right proportions, at the right time and with the right level of activity and you’ll end up with far better results.
- Going Live – there are few businesses brave enough to live stream at the moment but the marketing possibilities are out there if you stop and think about how this technology can be harnessed to help you reach your target audience. Social media users are demanding to be more ‘in the moment’ and what better way to immerse them in your brand or content than taking them with you? Think live events as a great starting point for live video streaming.
- New reality – from the Virtual Reality gaming headsets that are a popular Christmas list item to the augmented reality of roaming the streets for Pokestops earlier this year, our concepts of what is real has been challenged in 2016 and we predict it will grow and develop further in the coming twelve months.
- Cutting content – we don’t mean necessarily cutting down, but cutting through. There are so many words, images, videos and experiences out there that we are all getting too overwhelmed to bother paying attention. The winners in 2017 will be the brands who can cut through this noise to reach their target audience with specific messages that mean something to them.
What about at SEO it Right?
On a company level, 2016 has been a fantastic year. We started the year dressed up and walking the cold streets to raise money for Sport Relief, celebrated our 6th birthday in April, spent the summer delivering an awesome work experience programme for two local school pupils and an international work placement student and ended the year welcoming a new member to our team – Kostas, who comes to us as a highly-experienced developer,AdWords manager and user experience expert. If you haven’t met Kostas already or received an email from him I’m sure you’ll join us in wishing him well on his SEO it Right journey.
All that leaves me to do is thank everyone, staff, customers and followers for their continued support in 2016. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and look forward to an exciting year in 2017!
Last week, we welcomed year 10 student Jack into the office to spend the week on work experience. Having worked extremely hard in his time here, Jack has summed up his week in his own words:
I’ve always dreaded my work experience and have always been worried about going to spend 5 days in a completely new place, with people I’ve never met before and not a clue how it would turn out. I came to SEO it Right worried of what I would be doing. In the end though, my worrying came to nothing and after a nervous few months of waiting for work experience I’ve enjoyed my time at SEO it Right and have learnt new facts, stats, skills and been educated in the importance of online features like blogs, social media and website usability all in a single week. One of the most important things that I will take away from SEO it Right though is the experience I have gained and the comfort I’ve found in a typical workplace environment.
On my first day I was worried, but when I was dropped off I was reassured by the welcoming of the staff and settled in quickly. I was introduced to everyone and shown around, I was told what I’d be doing and looked through a help sheet that benefited me greatly as I was able to plan what I was going to do for my next activity and how. I was then left alone to focus on a website usability study where I found how different features of a website can affect the user and the big impact it has on a potential customer of the business. I found programmes like Google Mobile Friendly Test and Google Speed Test when writing it and managed to finish my usability study with over 5000 words. I also completed a mock interview which was like a tutorial of an interview and showed me how to answer questions. I left on my first day confused of why I was previously so worried and looking forward to what the next day had to offer.
When my second day came around, I was looking forward to finding out about how social media impacts a business and was then shocked to find out how important it can prove to be. I was fascinated as I started my Social Media statistics sheet and found interesting facts and even worked out my own. For example, the number of people on Facebook is 25 times the UK’s population.
By my third day, I was relaxed in the office and was comfortably settled in. I finished finding statistics, found what makes a good website and started to make plans for a video. I started to really gain from the experience of being in a typical workplace environment.
My fourth day was one of my favourites. I started working on my video, focusing on what makes a good website. My favourite part of making the video was the editing process; this is something I often enjoy and did again this time. I called the video “The Good The Bad Of The Websites” and made a mock-up logo for the video. I enjoyed putting it together and think I did a good job. That day after I finished my video, I made a new infographic (something I’d learnt while at SEO it Right) about social media and how we use it in today’s world. I then went home able to reflect on another great day of work experience.
On the 5th and final day, I started the morning by completing this blog post. I’ll soon present my video to the team and eat cakes at the SEO it Right picnic to end the week in a great way.
Thank You to SEO it Right for allowing me to come and do my work experience here and for making me feel so welcome.
On Friday 18th March, the SEO it Right team will be joining people from all across the UK and doing our bit for Sport Relief. To raise money for vulnerable people throughout the UK and all over the world, we will be taking part in an 8 hour sponsored walking relay. Each member of the team will take it in turns walking the streets of Sutton Coldfield throughout the working day, from 9am until 5pm.
Not only is walking a great form of exercise, but studies have also found that even a short walk on your lunch break can help to increase your productivity. People who walk or otherwise exercise regularly are commonly calmer and more alert than inactive people; even a gentle stroll can help to improve your mood, increase your output and your ability to handle stress at work.
First launched in 2002, Sport Relief is a biennial event that makes a huge difference to people in need all around the world. By bringing the British public together to get active, the strength in numbers helps to generate money to change many vulnerable people’s lives. 50% of all money raised by Sport Relief is used to help people here in the UK, with the remaining 50% being used to transform the lives of many in the world’s very poorest communities.
Sport Relief 2016 takes place from the 18th – 20th March, with fundraising events planned all over the UK, combined with fantastic television and radio entertainment to raise more funds for a brilliant cause.
To sponsor the SEO it Right team, please click here to visit our Giving Page.
Snoops, the youngest and only four legged member of the SEO it Right team is 3 years old today. He may be fully grown, but he is still as mischievous as he was as a puppy and always keeps us on our toes when he visits the office, stealthily sniffing around Riz’s desk.
Many happy returns of the day Snoops!
This year SEO it Right is participating in the Great Midlands fun run. The run is 8.5 miles all around the Sutton Coldfield area and the idea behind it is to raise money for your chosen cause.
Every year, we get behind a charitable event in order to give something back to the community. In 2012, the directors Adam and Frances Berry departed on an expedition up Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, raising money for a young girl with Cerebral Palsy who needed to go to America for life changing surgery and last year we supported Yoxall Dads for Charity by being a sponsor at their charity ball. In 2014 we, as a company, have chosen to do the fun run.
The charity we have chosen to support is the Birmingham Children’s hospital due to the fantastic work they do for children and the massive impact they have on young children’s lives. The race commences on Sunday 1st June 2014 at 11am so feel free to come down and support us!
We are also asking for donations to help support this fantastic cause. Whatever you can give we are grateful for and so are the thousands of children who have to visit the children’s hospital every year.
The training for the run is vigorous but the cause is very worthy. If you have any tips for us on how we can effectively train for the run please let us know! Some of us will be walking, some running and some doing it on all fours (well that will be Snoops the Dog!).
To make a donation, please click HERE!
Please watch this space for more updates from the fun runners!
I began at SEO it Right on Monday 17th March 2014 as part of my Social Media apprenticeship. I came in with only vague knowledge and understanding of social media after only undergoing one week at College. From first thing Monday morning, I had walked into the office and I was greeted by everyone and knew immediately that I was in a safe and friendly environment.
I then sat down with Frances who talked through with me what I had learnt and what I aimed to achieve out of the placement. I quickly grasped the way that everything was run and by the end of Monday, had successfully completed numerous status updates for a client. This went on for the entirety of my first week, with constant support and backing from the entire team who were more than happy to help even if I was asking the plain obvious. I have learnt how to effectively word statuses and how to manage my time and complete work to a high standard.
My apprenticeship is in Social Media and so I have been focusing primarily on this area whilst being in the workplace and I feel that the first week has given me more of an insight into how social media works within a business and how all the specialist tools work in order to convey this and keep them up to date. The skills I have learnt so far have already taught me how to correctly word updates to make sure that they are relevant to their target audience. I look forward to completing my apprenticeship and hopefully continuing my career in Social Media. I would like to thank the whole team at SEO it Right for being patient with me throughout this first week and for being very supportive whenever I have an issue. It is a fantastic place to work!
The director of Birmingham SEO and online marketing company SEO it Right, has urged caution amongst local businesses that rely solely on organic search traffic for internet revenue and lead generation. Birmingham, West Midlands — (SBWIRE) — 09/17/…