Over the past decade, Google search algorithms, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data have had an increasingly huge impact on how digital content is viewed by different audiences. As technology and marketing content continue to evolve and intertwine over cyber space, these trends can no longer be passed off as digital buzz words. Content marketers must be aware of these digital trends and learn how to effectively implement them into their marketing strategies - or risk having their content fall on deaf ears, or in this case, an unread landing page.
However, even if you do follow all the guidelines to promote your digital content, you may find that you’re still not climbing in Google search rankings, no matter how many target keywords you add. Is keyword search becoming redundant? And if so, what’s the new approach to luring the Google bot?
Not only search engine landscapes rapidly evolved, but there’s also been a significant shift in how people are discovering content – and content marketers need to take note.
Many marketers have simply increased their content output in an attempt to catch Google’s attention, and unfortunately, will probably continue receiving the same underwhelming results, albeit with greater manpower and expense. Best-selling author and social media strategist, Mark Schaefer, believes that we are entering into an age of ‘content shock’, competing with over 1400 published blog posts every minute. To break the mould, content marketers must start with making changes at the very beginning of the content curation process, starting with the content strategies they implement.
The end is nigh for keyword search
To successfully curate interesting and wide-reaching content, marketers need to take heed of changes in how search engines process and evaluate information on the web.
Traditionally, content producers have peppered their content with keywords audiences were likely to include in their Google searches, aiming for higher search ranking by repeating relevant keywords throughout their content. However, Google cottoned on to this tactic, and have now developed algorithms that focus on words that answer specific queries searchers may have.
How are they doing this? In recent years, Google has been making big investments in machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI). To better understand search queries, they introduced a technology called ‘RankBrain’ into their core algorithm with the aim of providing better and more relevant results. According to Amanda Clark, Editor-in-Chief of GrammarChic, Inc., “RankBrain is a machine that’s actually capable of learning about content and user search queries, and of judging which content provides the most relevant and actionable results for a search engine query.” This technology effectively changes how content marketers should present their content from the get go.
Savvy content marketers are now implementing growth hacking strategies that focus on tailoring their content to meet the needs of search queries, while also making their content more relatable. Let’s face it, no one wants to read stilted content, stuffed with robotic keywords. We want real people offering real solutions.
Engage Google with structured data
Smart content marketers are now realising the benefits of having structured data markup on their websites. This tool allows you to have control over indexing rich, searcher friendly information that you want your audience to find, instead of Google making that choice for you.
Publishers who want to organically boost their content on search engine results without resorting to Pay-Per-Click marketing (PPC) should consider using Schema structured data, A specific vocabulary of tags you can add to your HTML code. Adding Schema to your website, improves the way Google interprets your content, by enhancing the metadata about the content itself - which improves your search rankings, and ultimately your click through rate.
Content that particularly tickles Google’s fancy is sometimes highlighted as a featured snippet – a short bit of informational content that appears above the list of search results, without the user having to navigate to the web page. New research shows more than 30% of search enquiry results on Google are using featured snippets and this number is continuing to increase. To bag this prime piece of internet real estate, content marketers must show that their content is not only structured but also benefits the searcher by answering their search enquiries.
Understand the mind of the searcher
Advances in mobile technology and continuous changes to Google’s algorithms have played a part in how searchers communicate with search engines to find the results they want.
The dramatic increase in mobile usage over the past five years has amplified the rise in voice searches. The Local Search Association claims that voice search assistants like Cortana, Siri, Alexa and Google Home are swiftly becoming the go-to channel for search enquiries, accounting for approximately 5 billion searches a month!
So what does this mean for content marketers? The increase in voice searches implies that queries are now more conversational than ever before, meaning that Google will boost website content rankings if their tone is more informal, colloquial and natural.
Instead of there being only a select number of keywords searches associated with one topic, there will now be thousands of different long-tail conversational variations. But don’t let this put you off! The key is adapting your content marketing strategies to meet the needs of increasingly conversational searches.
Create topic clusters
Topic clusters are said to be the next evolution in SEO, but does this affect content curators? Topic clusters enable a deeper coverage in google search results that cover a wider range of core topic areas. If you are looking to encourage organic traffic to your website, hyper focused topic clusters allows for better internal linking between your websites and can enhance general user experiences.
Consumers are now expecting that search engines recognise intent in their enquiries, so content marketers need to step up their content to tailor to a broader range of searches.
Some of the biggest content marketing online blogs, like Hubspot, are choosing to build content through ‘topic clusters’. They do this to generate search traffic that directly relates to specific buyer personas, while also creating a strong affinity for a topic with their brand identity. The topic cluster formation helps the likes of Google, Bing and Yandex scan and understand the semantic relationship between two different webpages, and reward these links by putting them higher in their search results.
The pillar content is the main topic of your website. This links to each cluster page and each cluster page links to the pillar content, with the same hyperlinked keyword. If a topic cluster like ‘How to growth hack your content for millennials’ performs well, the entire pillar content also gets a boost in search traffic. This new SEO strategy is all about helping web crawlers and content marketers make important connections, bringing authoritative content to the forefront.
Ultimately, the main reward comes from creating relevant content for your audiences, not just trying to game a higher ranking on Google’s search algorithms. Content marketers need to shift their focus away from traditional keyword stuffing towards creating structured topic clusters that increase visibility and organic search traffic. Tailor your content to the searcher, and you will be rewarded by the Google bots. The key is to establish yourself as the most knowledgeable online resource in your selected topic by not only providing solutions - but also relatable, human content.
[Picture by lifewire]