Since late May, internet marketers have waited for the latest Penguin update from Google. Matt Cutts, the company’s distinguished engineer, said earlier this summer that Panda updates would likely be more minor moving forward with Penguin having the largest impact on SERPs. That wasn’t exactly true, as Google confirmed last week that its latest iteration of Panda rolled out on September 27. The version, dubbed Panda 20, impacted 2.4 percent of search queries, Search Engine Land reported, and Google’s Penguin update on Friday was comparatively small.
Brafton reported that Panda 20 comes at an interesting time since another algorithm rolled out the following day. Unrelated to either Panda or Penguin, Google announced a new algorithm that removes low-quality content from rankings even when the site’s URL exactly matches a query. For sites that saw traffic gains or losses around this time, it may be difficult to ascertain what the cause was.
In general, a content marketing strategy that delivers relevant information to consumers will help companies avoid issues related to algorithm changes. Minor ranking changes are inevitable, but delivering strong site content will always be valuable for SEO and informing prospects.
With that idea in mind, Cutts delivered a new Webmaster Help video last week that focused on Google’s freshness algorithm. Cutts offered some wisdom that should guide marketing strategies moving forward. Freshness is just one of the signals Google uses to create its search rankings. Companies using news content marketing and others regularly updating pages with timely information can still stand out and win traffic through frequent posts, however, not every ranking signal applies to every content marketing and SEO strategy. Moreover, site content developed solely to appeal to algorithms is unlikely to achieve its goal of attracting prospects and guiding them to conversion.
“There are more than 200 signals we use,” Cutts said. “The thing I would not do is say ‘so I need to have fresh content. Therefore, I’m going to change a few words on my pages every day, and I’m going to change the byline every day so it looks like I have fresh content.’ That’s not the sort of thing that leads to higher rankings.”
“The thing I would not do is say ‘so I need to have fresh content. Therefore, I’m going to change a few words on my pages every day, and I’m going to change the byline every day so it looks like I have fresh content.’ That’s not the sort of thing that leads to higher rankings.” – Google’s Matt Cutts
Brafton reported that any strategy developed solely to appeal to search crawlers will hurt companies in the long term. Google develops its search algorithms based on its understanding of the information people want, and marketers should create content in the same way.
Insights from OMMA and SMX East
Part of developing content people find interesting and relevant is effective storytelling. Last week, Brafton spent some time at the Online Media, Marketing and Advertising(OMMA) conference in New York. At the event, presented by Mediapost, CP-B CEO Andrew Keller discussed ways to bridging the gap between creative and marketing to develop compelling brand stories.
From the event, Brafton reported that storytelling ultimately dictates marketing success. Keller discussed a social media marketing campaign from Grey Poupon that included engaging, humorous social content along with well-written copy about the company’s line of condiments. Marketing campaigns must appeal to users on an emotional level to result in interest and eventual conversions. Establishing a positive relationship with prospects will bring in more money when marketing content offers them more than a product.
With video marketing, companies can reach even more users but content must express similar messages to target users effectively. At OMMA, Forrester Analyst Mike Glantz, Natalie Bokenham of IPG and Christian Waitzinger of SapientNitro pointed to key considerations in reaching prospects through video.
Creating video content relevant for both mobile and desktop users ensures maximum reach. Content that appeals to users across devices and web platforms allows companies to target different prospects. Brafton reported that diverse content marketing campaigns have become more important to business’ success.
Meanwhile, at SMX East, Brafton covered shared insights on SEO metrics to develop clear pictures of success and areas to look for improvements. The conference discussion centered on the value of strategic SEO campaigns and measurement for consistent improvements.
The week in social media
A pair of studies from AYTM Market Research found that social media marketing efforts are effective for building brand awareness. However, consumers still prefer accessing website content before converting.
The first survey dealt with Twitter. According to AYTM, 69 percent of Twitter users follow at least one brand on the platform, and 26 percent engage with at least 10 companies. These users enjoy seeing polls and learning of new products and services. However, social’s utility can be difficult to gauge without links to relevant website content. More than 63 percent of respondents said they find a company’s site more useful than Twitter. Seeing information on social networks is beneficial, but, when it comes time to convert, prospects need good articles, blog posts or other site content to make that decision.
Social marketing is really just a form of content marketing . Without relevant information and links that direct prospects toward purchases, it’s difficult to make social a successful part of a new media marketing campaign. Brafton reported that social awareness is invaluable to consistently keep new leads and prospects engaged, but the channel will have limited impact without links to stronger content.
The second report from AYTMsuggested that consumers behave similarly on Facebook. Seventy-three percent of respondents said they have Liked at least one brand on the site, and 31 percent reported Liking 10 or more companies.
These users are active on the platform, Liking content and sharing information with their extended networks. However, like Twitter, true conversion and value from Facebook marketing only comes when relevant site content populates a Facebook page. Brafton reported that Facebook’s massive popularity makes it especially important to maintain a presence on the site. Moreover, using website content to attract consumers keeps them engaged and consistently moving toward conversion.
Finding a strong mix of content to make Facebook marketing a success becomes increasingly valuable for businesses. In fact, the company recently announced it has surpassed 1 billion active profiles Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reported through the company’s news page that he and his team will continue to innovate with the 1 billion mark serving as a reminder of the platform’s power and value for its users.
Brafton reported that more than 152 million Americans are likely active on the network on recent data. Having more than 1 billion active users gives Facebook an even larger lead over other social networks.
Developing a web marketing strategy that draws on multiple channels to guide users through a conversion funnel is a competitive necessity . It takes diverse content, a solid understanding of the best SEO strategy for a company and a social media marketing presence that keeps prospects engaged. The results can be wider brand awareness, leads and sales.