December 2017
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4 factors you didn’t realise were influencing search

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.

google search

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:

Television

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.

Trends

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.

Mobile devices

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.