Google Search Changes and the Importance of Content

Continuing our recent discussion about ensuring your company’s visibility in Google searches: at the end of April, Google made changes to its search algorithm – and those changes are affecting many websites, but both positively and negatively.

Fortunately, Google provides ongoing tips in its Webmaster Central blog to help companies put forth “the best user experience” – especially useful for those who can’t invest in regular, professional oversight of their websites (Google makes an estimated 500 changes annually to its search algorithm to combat those attempting to ‘trick’ the search engine into giving their sites higher organic rankings, via keyword stuffing, paying for links, and an assortment of other shady practices).

Google: “Focus on Building Useful Sites with Compelling Content”

The algorithm change is further reinforcement for the advice B2B marketing and PR firms like ours have been hammering home with clients for a while now: the gains that can be made by generating and sharing content.

Content on your site should be useful and educational versus commercial.

Content should be fresh and original, and, generated and posted continuously.

Blogs are one of the most expedient ways to keep website content fresh, given that much of the content on most sites is evergreen (for a reason).

Original content enhances your organic rankings – but that’s not the only reason to create it.  The same information you develop for your site surely has multiple other uses – for existing customers, as sales support material, as the basis for a webinar, published article or white paper, or e-mail blast, etc.

To keep your site ranked as high as possible, Google offers these further tips:

  •  Keep track of algorithm changes on the Webmaster Central blog.
  •  Make sure you’re aware of your top keywords and keyword phrases – how people search for your product or service – and how these may change over time.

 

If you’ve never generated a list of potential keywords and run a traffic report, do so.  Now! Google makes this relatively easy to do yourself with its traffic tool.  And make a point to rerun the report at least quarterly, to stay abreast of and leverage those search terms in your online marketing.

Knowledge of keywords can be incorporated back into your standing site content (content optimization being one step of the SEO process) and can be a springboard for new marketing ideas.

While you’re at it, set up a Google Alerts for your key terms, seek and follow the online conversation and get involved in pertinent blogs, forums, etc.

Doing so will set you up for interaction with members of your industry and prospective customers — those people searching for and talking about your area of expertise.

  • Use social media.  Share links to your site content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, SlideShare, etc.  Get professional help to at least get you started on these platforms (if you’re not there already).  Learn how other B2B companies are using social media.
  • Google advises companies to go beyond the search engine requirements and drive traffic to your site in other ways, such as through ads special promotions and the like.  Many B2B companies have no trouble with this tip – but may not be using “drive site traffic” as a clear objective.

 

With so many tools available at the touch of a button, there’s no reason your company can’t step up its online visibility even in small increments.

Abana1pc

SEO Secret: Use Paid Search Ads When Full SEO is Out of Reach

It’s no secret that performing search engine optimization (SEO) for a website is a significant investment when done professionally and thoroughly.

Aside from the cost, the sheer number of tasks involved in SEO — keyword research, content optimization, formulating page titles and meta-tags, starting a blog, tweeting, adding links and more – can seem overwhelming.

Still, every company wants their websites to be visible on the first few pages of relevant searches.

There is, however, a far less costly alternative to SEO: paid search ads.

These can accomplish the goal of creating visibility on page one (an achievement that even full SEO can’t guarantee) at less cost, and in less time – with very positive results. 

Yes, it’s “advertising.”  So, no, it’s not as good as being on page one through organic ranking.  But paid ads DO get attention.

Paid search is a viable option that offers 100% control: you decide your budget (as low or high as you like), you change the content of the ad whenever you like, you pay only for clicks, and you can immediately see the results of your ads.  If they’re not pulling in the kinds of leads that you want, you can stop the campaign at any time.

We have had success with several clients who spent as little as $200 to $300 monthly on the campaigns.

Ads can be designed to support almost any marketing endeavor (such as driving traffic to your website or a special landing page featuring one of your products or services, to building awareness of a special promotion, to reach more people with your content).  If the ads are well thought out and well-written, you will get clicks. 

Make Your Ads “Smart”

Content is king in all sorts of marketing outreach, and it’s no different for paid search ads.

The limitation on Google ads is that you have only about 30 characters and three lines of text to get your message across.  How will you make your ad stand out?  Content.

I call ads that link to useful content for the prospect “Smart” ads. Rather than creating a set (five- seven typical for any program) of plain-vanilla ads that are straightforward, bland or just try to expose your message, instead exploit and tie your ad to educational content – direct them to download something that’s useful.

You could for example:

  • Destroy common myths about your product or service
  • Provide information or tips about selecting your product or service
  • Help them compare between competitive offerings
  • Answer questions or common sales objections
  • Share your company’s perspective about an industry issue or problem

 

Your educational content needn’t be long.  White papers make perfect downloads – but here again, some companies may not have any readily available. The alternative is a single landing page on your website (or a downloadable written document) that contains the educational information you have convey.

It makes sense to be where your customers are searching – online.  If your company is not already highly visible, paid ads are worth at least a test run, serving a supporting or even starring role in your ongoing marketing efforts.

Building a Better Customer Trap Part Two: Give Them Helpful (Not Commercial) Information

mouse trapWhere are your prospects and customers going for information?  And, what non-commercial information are you sharing?

 • Know your audience

As described in our previous post (Part One: Who Cares?), know what your customers want and why they buy. Where possible, augment that with anything more they should know before they buy. Then use all of this in your marketing content.

For example, our client, CAPSYS Technologies, recently published an entire book applying this exact principle.  “ECM Buyer Beware: Real Insights and Answers for Decision Makers” encapsulates more than 20 years of knowledge, insights and real-world solutions facing companies trying to manage paper and electronic data using  enterprise content management (ECM) hardware and software tools. 

The author, Paul Szemplinski, methodically walks readers through the in’s and out’s of many aspects of these systems, sharing truly helpful details on every page.  Anyone that manages or makes budget decisions on IT systems will find the book a goldmine.  He did it without blatantly touting his own firm, introducing a breakthrough SaaS service from his company only in the very last chapter.

The tone?  Educational and forthright.  Paul knows the business and therefore shared what he knows, for the benefit of the reader.  Period.  The reader draws his or her own conclusion.  Whether or not numerous new customers result, he has done them all a service.

 • Create a program that regularly provides valuable information

The new mantra is value, not just a sales pitch.  While we all know the primary purpose of marketing is to sell, in today’s densely crowded marketplace, we simply must give our target more reason to listen to our story. 

The obvious example of this: Traditional ads are increasingly ignored.  Relevant ads (i.e., Google search) are growing exponentially. If we provide valuable, non-commercial information to both current customers and prospects, we build an environment of trust. People appreciate the expertise, and seek it out when the time to buy comes.

Map out a new program that reaches your targets at least quarterly; or find ways to fold non-commercial content into your existing tactics.

  • Let your target talk back to you

Involve your customers in the conversation.  Use online and/or social media tools to create a “user community” that talks to each other.  With every exchange, you are building your brand.

For tips on brainstorming dozens of valuable subject matter ideas for your company, read the white paper: Information: The New Marketing Currency, Go to our homepage www.rurelevant.com, and click the banner.