To say advertising has changed since the heyday of “Mad Men” would be an understatement. It’s only in the past 15 years or so that marketing as an industry has transformed at such a high acceleration.
The biggest driver of this shift in the way we approach marketing is undoubtedly Google. Google, in many ways, has become the lens through which many people view the Internet.
Consider that over a billion people use Google search to get the information they’re looking for. While many of these queries may be related to spur of the moment trivia challenges (we’ve all been a compulsive Googler at one point or another), the fact is consumers are more determined to cut through all the “noise” than ever.
When someone searches for “hardware store near me” that is a very specific query with a clear purpose. It’s a totally different approach from the traditional guesswork that goes into matching advertising with spaces that you believe cater to your desired demographic.
In an effort to shift strategies and reach these customers, marketers have adopted a strategy that revolves around content in an effort to better match with consumers who are looking for a particular good or service.
Investing in Content
Content marketing is often viewed as simply a way to get higher prominence in Google. Higher prominence, of course, translates to acquiring the lionshare of the traffic that is passed through from search results. With around 40% of Internet traffic being related to Google and the number one result on a search page getting 33% of the traffic that results from someone passing through Google, it’s obvious while marketing strategies are designed to get a client as close to that top spot as possible.
Clearly, having more “stuff” on your site is crucial to gaining higher search engine results page (SERP) rankings. Google relies on a site’s content to better “understand” what the purpose of the site is and its quality. One’s first impulse may be to jam their site with as many words or images as possible in order to achieve some sort of perceived advantage in search results. However, never forget the primary reason you are putting content on your site: connecting with people.
As Greg Hadden wrote for Adweek,
“What often gets lost is the fact that good storytelling is potent stuff. It has the power to make people want to believe and to belong, which is the goal of all storytellers. We’re all selling something, be it an idea, an exploration of the human condition, or say, a vacuum cleaner.”
The “people part” is the core of content, as viewed from two different angles – the way marketing is changing and the effect of reader response on quality scores.
How Marketing is Changing
Much of the reason that the Internet is so widely used is that you can define your own journey. People want to collect information on their own before making contact with your business. Jonathan Lister, a director of sales for LinkedIn, notes the extent to which consumers are self-directed these days: they are 3/5 of the way to making a purchase when they make contact with your business.
The key, then, is to provide that pre-sales, freely offered information in an era when advertising carries much less punch than it did in the past. At Steady Demand, we aren’t the only ones getting onboard. Marketing agencies that list content marketing as their primary point of focus have grown from 19% to 35% over the last 12 months. More and more agencies are seeing the value of good storytelling with each passing year.The modern consumer doesn’t want to be pitched. They do not want to be sold something. Click To Tweet
Instead, they want to come to a decision and then contact you when they are ready to take some kind of action. With content marketing, the goal has become:
“how do we convince prospective customers that we offer the most trustworthy expertise?”
Consumers are more informed than ever. They are also more discerning with how they spend their money. The digital economy has decentralized the customer experience. Gone are the days of being limited to the stores in town. Now with the ability to have goods or services delivered not just from other states but other countries, competition has never been fiercer.
Content marketing, when done well, says:
“Trust us. We know what we’re doing. And we want you to find some use in what we have to share.”
This is why so many companies are hosting blogs on their sites and being more mindful about how they approach social media. Social media networks are where we spend an increasingly greater amount of our time. If the average person is spending 28% of their time online browsing through their one of their multiple social media accounts, it would make sense that businesses are trying to do what they can to grab attention in that space.
But, what about the more technical aspects of content marketing? How does the Google algorithm fit into marketers’ goal of providing consumers with a high volume of quality content?
Reader Response & Quality
You are probably familiar with the idea that Google loves quality. Generate quality content, and you will get more visitors to your site. How, though, can quality be injected into a search engine’s mathematical algorithm? Clearly, Google is not manually reading each site to determine if it’s any good. While Google does have features in its algorithm to sift through obvious spam, the search engine does have one major key indicator of quality.
To understand quality, Google requires social proof. That’s why, according to a 2013 study of search engine prominence by Searchmetrics, 7 of the top 8 ranking factors (correlations at least) were elements of social media. This makes sense when you consider how much stock is put in “going viral.” Google Plus, notably, was the #1 factor. Hint: that’s why it’s the social centerpiece of our company.
Bonus Reading: Why Businesses Come to Us for Google Plus Marketing
The reason why Google has been so successful for so long in search is that they’ve been able to closely approximate how people actually interact with content that interests them.
Social media signals are the modern, widespread equivalent of telling your coworkers about the great restaurant you went to the night before and encouraging them to try it themselves. Your coworkers trust your judgment and you made the restaurant sound good so chances are high they’ll be stopping by sometime soon.
Google treats social shares and traffic as indicators of value. The linked content is then ranked accordingly. This is a simplified portrayal of the Google formula, but it demonstrates why the way we interact with content is of such importance to Google.
At Steady Demand, we understand the “rewards” given by Google when it is provided with the necessary information it needs to remain the most popular search engine. That’s why we stress the importance of establishing a solid Google Plus presence at the beginning of each campaign.
As we demonstrate in our case studies, Google Plus offers demonstrable benefits across a variety of KPIs in relatively short periods of time. That’s because the platform provides benefits that satisfies both parts of the content marketing equation: people and algorithms.
If you’re looking for assistance establishing your business’ content marketing strategy, contact us today.