In 2013, Google stopped giving out keyword information that it had long provided as an analytics tool. At the time, many interpreted this as a shot across the bow of traditional SEO, signalling that Google’s algorithms would be working even harder to reward content-rich sites, while filtering out SEO trickery.
As of July 2014, Google seems to be confirming that SEO is on its way out. No longer will sites be able to rely on simply optimising themselves for Google via keywords and metatags. Replacing the soon-to-be-deceased SEO will be ever more complex algorithms, which will reward sites that have the best content.
An online search environment without SEO–a.k.a The Future–will mean that websites will have to place a premium on content marketing, if they want to be seen. In order to stay competitive, and at the top of Google’s rankings, companies doing online marketing will have to remain continually creative. Here are some tips and tactics for how to keep your content marketing strategy riding the top of the wave:
1. Re-Examine Your Social Media Strategy
A savvy social media strategy is essential to your content marketing strategy, as are your customers’ buyer personas. However, has your firm combined the two elements? It’s one thing for you to know your buyers, but another thing for your social media strategy to reflect that.
We’ve already told you how to avoid the most common B2B social media mistakes, but another simple common mistake is devoting resources where they’re not very effective. For instance, if your customers are in their 30s, rather than their teens, it’d be a better use of your time to focus your efforts on a social media platform like Twitter or Google+, whose user-base is generally older.
Traditionally, most social media strategies have involved accumulating Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers. However, a recent Wall Street Journal article reports that more and more companies are dissatisfied with their scattershot strategies.
Plan of Action: Rather than simply trying to gain exposure, companies must effectively target their social media campaigns, in order to improve their content marketing plan. If you find that people use Twitter to find answers to their product questions before buying, then plan to use that channel for conversion. If Facebook is mostly where users just “like” your product, but don’t engage further, then don’t expect conversion to come from there. Instead, use it to gain new leads, which you can softly nurture by familiarising them with your brand, your products, and your vision.
2. Connect with Influencers
Regardless of what your industry is, it has some pre-eminent figures in it. These well-known industry players are probably widely respected by your customers, who look to them as gatekeepers to pass on good information and weed out the bad. By connecting with these “industry influencers” and establishing quality long-term relationships, you can get these trusted public figures to amplify your company’s message.
There’s no individual number that can quantify how much your company’s influence has grown. Even a piece on Mashable about the importance of reaching industry figures states that “simply put, there is no single way to measure online influence.”
However, we know that talking to the right people can make a tremendous difference in how a brand is perceived. The cosmetics industry spends $100 billion per year on advertising, but the greatest influence on customer decision-making isn’t traditional advertising. Cosmetics customers cite vloggers–trusted non-professionals with webcams and YouTube accounts–as the number one factor influencing what they buy.
Such findings reveal the huge power that influencers wield in any given industry. Because it’s harder to quantify their influence than basic web traffic, though, online marketers have only just awakened to the importance of industry influencers in the last few years.
Plan of Action: In order to improve your online marketing strategy, incorporate industry influencers into your marketing plan. Determine who has influence in your field–see who your customers are listening to. Then reach out to them and establish a relationship through a channel like Twitter. If an industry influencer tweets a positive message about your company to their 30,000 followers, it’s worth way more than a paid ad that reaches 30,000 people on Facebook. A personal guarantee of your company by a highly-valued figured is simply something that money can’t buy.
3. Fine-Tune Your Brand Identity
“Brand stories drive interactions with our customers,” as one viral Mashable post on digital marketing purports. When, though, is the last time that you re-examined this story?
Companies often evolve, and come to specialise in new areas. A marketing firm may start as an all-purpose agency, but then find itself specialising in a few disparate fields. If that’s the case, that business should re-evaluate its brand identity to find the new common thread. Just don’t be surprised or try to avoid this evolution, since it will happen eventually in any company. As Creative Market explains, “it’s important to monitor and care for [your brand identity], as it’s a living and breathing thing that interacts with your customers.”
Plan of Action: Make sure that your content marketing strategy is right for your brand by conducting a brand identity survey. This can be as complex as hiring an outside agency, or as easy as taking a brand personality quiz. Your content marketing plan is telling your customers a story, but it may be the wrong one. Make sure that your brand identity is up-to-date so that your strategy is effective.
These 3 tips are a good start to improving your online marketing plan for a post-SEO web. If you’ve done all of this, but you want more assurance that you’re on the right track, or you’d like a professional team on the case, contact us. What else is your company doing to prepare for Google’s new content marketing environment?