Search marketing continues to be a highly effective way to connect with prospective customers who are looking for what you are offering. We recommend search be part of every marketer’s arsenal to generate awareness, leads and sales.
But search marketing changes fast and constantly. Woe be the marketers who take their eyes off the latest news.
Here are 5 trends/tips to keep your search marketing strategy current and successful:
1. Google made a massive change to its search algorithm this fall
In September, Google announced that it had rolled out its biggest overhaul in its search engine since 2001. The name of the new release is Hummingbird.
In essence, this replacement of the search engine promises to provide better results. For example, Hummingbird improves results for conversational language. In other words, Google can better understand and provide improved results for the conversational language that most users type into the search box.
Another big change is for PageRank– how important links to a page are deemed to be. PageRank is no longer one of the few major factors in rankings; now PageRank is one of 200 important factors.
So, how does this change SEO strategy? Google says that SEO is about proving unique, high quality content. See step 4 on how to best accomplish this goal.
Some of the factors believed to drive Google search results. Courtesy of SearchEngine Land.
2. Search is more than Google
While Google is the dominant search engine, it is important to diversify your company’s paid search (PPC) to other search engines.
Bing and Yahoo are gaining market share. And small and medium businesses are finding that click-through rates for these two engines are growing more quickly. In 2012, click-through rates for SMB marketers grew 109 percent for Bing, 123 percent for Yahoo, but only 32 percent for Google.
Smart marketers who are increasing PPC spend are investing more in their Bing and Yahoo listings. You should consider these other engines as well.
3. Don’t think just about text-based content – think video
YouTube is now the #2 search engine, with over 800 million unique monthly users. And more than 4 billion videos are watched every day. Accordingly you should consider placing your paid search spend on YouTube as well. There is a lot of value in YouTube’s PPC program.
In addition to PPC, your marketing program should include its own video program – creating high quality videos that showcase your story, customers and products.
And be sure to take these steps in order maximize the return on your videos:
1. Configure your own YouTube channel
2. Create a video sitemap
3. Optimize your video pages with keyword-rich tags
4. Use videos on your landing pages
These steps will pay off with higher search marketing results.
4. Focus on quality content rather than link building
It used to be that link building was among the most important steps to have strong organic search rankings. Abuses by marketers, though, led Google and others to reduce link building’s importance in determining results.
Now, quality content is a driver for high search rankings.
And the way to build quality content is through an organized content marketing strategy. This means creating valuable content (in the form of blog articles, videos, social media posts, podcasts) that is optimized for the search engines. This rich content will then be shared by your community across email, social media, and other blogs – further spreading its reach. The search engines value sharing and rank this content more highly in the rankings.
Software firm Hubspot is a great example of a leader in delivering on a great content strategy. They distribute valuable content to their readers (who happen to be marketers), resulting in high levels od trust and brand equity in the Hubspot brand. Plus their unique, high quality content comes up very high in the search rankings. Check out the Hubspot blog.
5. If you sell products, consider Google’s new PLA (Product Listing Ads) program
In 2012, Google introduced paid product listings with images (see picture above).
They’ve had a lot of success and have already caught up with text-only PPC for CPC spend.
Bing announced that it was following suit with its own offering in 2013.
If you are selling products over the internet, then a PLA program is worth exploring.
Search marketing changes rapidly with new offerings as well as algorithm changes. Be sure to keep up with what’s happening– it will pay off big in your marketing results.