In recent years, SEO has gone from a buzzword to a veritable Holy Grail amongst advertising experts selling cure all solutions to internet marketing woes. On paper, it makes sense: rigging your website to appear higher on a Google search page will shepherd more visitors to your site. But as we discussed in our previous article on the ROI of SEO marketing, a business can’t run on clicks alone, and the tide seems to be shifting away from pure SEO obsession to a more holistic approach, combining search engine savvy with quality content.
There’s more out there than pinging the top of a Google search, and a multifaceted strategy — encompassing content marketing, social sharing, and other facets — can lead to a more complete sales cycle and reach a higher percentage of the market share.
It’s understandable that SEO geeks like to brag about their analytics. Google has the market cornered, accounting for 65% of all internet searches. According to market research firm Greenlight, the number one result on Google’s search page garners 20-30% of clicks, with positions two and three seeing a dramatic drop-off with 5-10%, and the rest of the results receiving less than 1% each. But how does a purely SEO optimized website handle customers once you’ve secured their precious click? The smattering of keyword heavy text that tricked Google into leading them there may not be enough to actually convince them to give you their business.
The Advantage of Content
“Content marketing” is beginning to edge out SEO as a preferred approach to internet marketing, as it provides a more complete sales cycle. Populating your website with blogs and articles that are relevant to your industry and customer base will still drive search traffic, and give consumers a reason to stay once they arrive. SEO keywords my appeal to machines, but well written content appeals to humans, and they’re the ones that hold the credit cards.
A content marketing strategy is less of a quick fix and more of a full court push. Writing quality blogs and articles and publishing on a regular basis is time consuming, but has the potential to pay off in dividends. With a little momentum, your articles may be shared on other websites, generating link-back traffic, as well as social proof.
Most top companies outsource their content writing, and while this is generally more costly than an SEO campaign, tools such as Google Analytics make it easy to assess the ROI of a content campaign, and it frequently proves well worth the investment.
The Social Angle
Google has an undeniable stranglehold on the search engine front, but it’s not the only avenue your potential customers are using to find you. Internet users are spending more time on social media than many other websites combined, and their social network carries a big influence over their brand awareness.
Millenials especially tend to trust their friends’ recommendations over Google searches, and Facebook’s marketing tools capitalize on this social proof advantage. A content strategy pairs well with social media, as articles that show thought leadership (without coming across as a sales pitch) spark discussion and encourage sharing, all while leading associations back to your brand. Successful social media strategies favor community engagement over “billboarding,” and regularly published, relevant content fits the bill.
An important caveat is that Facebook has been progressively tweaking its algorithms to favor paid reach over organic reach; meaning having a large number of followers won’t affect your visibility all that much unless you pony up to “boost” your posts. Much like SEO numbers, follower counts on Facebook are becoming more of a vanity statistic, with little potential to move the needle toward higher sales.
The Mobilegeddon Situation
A final note: in a world where 64% of adult Americans own a smartphone, there’s really no excuse not to have a mobile-optimized website. With Google’s recent “Mobilegeddon” update , searches performed on a smartphone will prioritize mobile friendly sites. As we mentioned above, getting knocked down a few ranks on a Google search can be catastrophic.
Even if you’re counting on social media referrals over Google clicks, your lack of mobile optimization may still be holding you back. According to Techcrunch.com, over half a billion Facebook users access the site solely on their phones (a 78 percent increase from last year). If these users are referred to your site on their phone, you want to make a good first impression, and making them fumble through menus and sidebars designed for a mouse and monitor may drive them away.
If your site doesn’t fit the bill, you’re essentially giving away market share to your competitors. Regardless of what algorithm or referral leads consumers to your site, the browsing experience and content they encounter holds undeniable sway over their buying decision.
Turn Your Website Into A Sales Engine.