We’re in 2016 now. Search marketing is a key part for companies’ marketing strategies.
That being said, though, according to research towards the end of last year by Smart Insights 50 per cent of companies that do digital marketing are doing just that; marketing (albeit blindly). Half of those surveyed don’t have any kind of strategy or plan in place, and are toddling along using up their budgets with a scattergun approach.
Regular readers can probably imagine my brain imploding as I wrote that. Implementing a creative strategy is an incredibly important part of the inbound process. Laying solid foundations at the start of a campaign gives everybody in your company vision and clarity for what you’re trying to achieve.
Only, as regular readers will also know, when it comes to the search side of your marketing efforts Google often has other ideas.
Last week Google confirmed that it had implemented a “massive update”, namely a core update in the way it ranks websites on its search engine. Google also confirmed that there was also a Panda update (which focuses on low quality, thin websites) and we’re also expecting a pretty large Penguin update (quality of backlinks) sooner rather than later.
As we’ve said before Google often goes quiet, sometimes for months on end, and springs these surprises when people have lulled themselves into a false sense of security. And after last week’s update I’ve been asked a common question; is search marketing still worth it?
Your Turn: What do you think of Google’s latest updates and this major core algorithm shake-up? Will it help your business or will you have to look at your SEO tactics again? Let me know in the comments section below.
A punishment for publishers
Short answer, yes. Long answer, yes. This type of question’s usually borne of frustration toward Google more than anything, but the benefits that brands, marketers, and companies all see when they run a successful creative campaign far outweigh the negatives of an irregular Google algorithm update.
And, thankfully, it looks like a lot of people that practise search agree, with the latest Bellweather Report suggesting that a lot of the nation’s top companies increased their search marketing budget during the final quarter of 2015. SEO spending stood at 5.8 per cent, up 0.6 per cent from the previous quarter.
That’s great news heading into 2016, but not for some of the world’s most read content creators though. Since Google’s update last week it’s been reported that a number of so-called Tier 1 websites in the U.S. including TIME, The Atlantic, The Economist, GQ, The New Yorker, and more have all seen a big drop in rankings.
“It is apparent that many loser domains are classic print publishers and their losses in rankings mainly stem from older content pieces,” said Searchmetrics CTO Marcus Tober, whose company compiled the research.
They also point out, though, that while those traditional publishers lost ground newer publishers that concentrated on holistic-style content and covered topics extensively saw big gains and ranking improvements.
That’s more interesting than you may realise, and is Google’s way of giving a huge thumbs-up to people that have spent a lot of time researching their articles, building their knowledge, and sharing it with audiences in the best way possible.
When the ripple undoubtedly heads this way it’ll be music to the ears of specialist publishers such as Future Publishing, Dennis, Imagine, Bauer and others that initially struggled to adapt their models to the internet and stuck to creating new and interesting pieces of specialist content for niche audiences.
And that is the crux of the modern SEO that we feel should be pushed and implemented. Exciting, engaging content on sites that offer a fantastic user experience, are mobile-friendly, are safe and secure, and are promoted with an engaging social hook.
Your Turn: What are you currently doing to make yourself search compliant, and how does it complement your overall outreach strategy? Let me know below!
Don’t get left behind
And in fairness that’s the way we’ve always underlined what the inbound model should do for your business. It’s incredibly important to keep a close ear to the ground where Google’s concerned, but it’s equally important to have a broad inbound campaign that doesn’t just focus on search and includes a broad number of creative elements.
Which brings us back to the start of this article and that so many companies are happy to let their marketing departments blow their budget on hitting and hoping with their target audience, just so long as it’s digital and marketed on the internet.
Which is astonishing that we’re in 2016 and business owners still think that way. I feel though it’s more indicative of how the business itself is run rather than a misunderstanding of the digital advertising scene, and that it’s something a simple bespoke short-term strategy can begin to solve while a creative long-term strategy is looked at.
Over the coming weeks we and other search marketing professionals will pick the bones of Google’s latest update to figure out exactly what’s changed and will change (Google likes to keep quiet, you see) and the kind of things you should be doing when it comes to creating content and marketing your business through search.
But despite the scale and significance of these changes when Google does them, you’re likely to see little impact or disruption if you have a core, long-term creative strategy that deals with your websites in the right way.
Because if you’re not practising search marketing and are using the scattergun approach then it’ll ultimately cost your business more in the long-run through lost visibility, people finding and flocking to your competitors, and having to get up to speed when the penny does finally drop.
The good news is that it’s never too late to start an effective inbound campaign to grow your business. Strategy is the key word for all you do online; it’s our resolution and we’re sticking to it!
If you’d like to know more about search marketing and how inbound techniques can help boost your business contact us today.