Rise of Visual Search
Google will use visual tags, descriptions, file names and even the pixel nature of the image compositions themselves to rank sites with a much deeper analysis of the artwork within websites. From July it’s expected to be the case that stock photography will be known to this powerful search engine and thus weighted accordingly, which will be negatively. This is due to Google wanting to provide new and engaging content to its customers; this is good news for photographers who serve digital and social content briefs.
This also incorporates the rise of Pinterest and Bing’s new “in image” search where a part of an image can be selected for additional search. This is going to be of critical importance to those involved in e-commerce as customers buy with their eyes and Google is watching too.
Position Zero and Mobile First Indexing
Search engines are quickly becoming competitors to the very companies and pages they wish to serve. If you’ve ever looked for cinema times you’ll have noticed that Google displays these at the top of the page within its “knowledge graph”. This is from Google scraping content from cinema sites and displaying it. The query is satisfied and the potential customer clicks away, never having entered the cinema’s website, and avoiding their experience and buying journey.
This rich snippet data is considered “position zero” and what is the cinemas loss can be your gain. As if your target audience is looking for information related to your product or service then give it to them. Many companies are taking advantage of this by creating specific content to occupy this position with the aim of getting attention and increasing the likelihood of click through.
Position zero will be of key importance in serving the rise of voice search which is reported to be 15% of all searches. As these search types just require an answer instead of lists of websites or links – because the people can’t click. This is somewhat related to mobile where people just want a quick answer to a question and Google is going to use your content to give it to them.
You’ve been warned: Google can become your competitor and upset your customer journey by inserting a knowledge layer before your site.
SEO isn’t Dead, if it’s: Customer Focused, Authentic and Tagged
Google is working to make greater use of indexing via tags instead of spidering sites. Related to visual search, discussed above, the aspects of a site and its functions will be tagged for ranking purposes. This is in response to the internet making more use of web apps instead of websites. As how does Google handle these? Well it considers them an entity and ranks the entity. Web apps won’t be making use of URLs hence another requirement for ranking by entities. Entity first indexing is also language agnostic so opens opportunities for improved global coverage for websites and improving click through rates. Entities also include the internet of things and JSON linked sources but these aspects are outside the scope of this article.
Intent optimisation is replacing keywords optimisation as Google understands the nature of your content instead of its actual content. An example given to support this was the search query “Rhianna”. When most people search for the singer, they’re not looking for her website, they’re looking for her social media or the best way to learn where she’ll be performing next. Google is smart enough to know or have learned this, so serves the intent of its users.
Internet platforms get the eyeballs these days: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Medium, Apple News, Steemit, YouTube, Reddit the list goes on so how do you get your content seen? Well by recognising this new reality and making the best use of these platforms. This can be achieved in a number of ways:
- Using natural language as you’re on a platform and can’t really affect their SEO so there’s no purpose in lacing your body copy with keywords or phrases. However the titles and descriptions are different and are still opportunities to rank better within a given platform.
- Tell your story by remembering why people are on the platform which is largely to be engaged, find something new or be entertained; so provide this by getting their attention with your company story or recent client victory.
- Provide relationship value by posting friendly and relatable content which allows those on the platform to get to know the company and its people in a deeper and connective level. Consider this an extension of your brand, so should be crafted, but obviously remain genuine.
- Positive case studies where you helped a customer and the process can be used to highlight your service or product offer and your customer experience, interaction and fulfilment. All of this content should work to underpin the brand and the value of your company.
Overall you need to remember that platform sites are transactional and people visit expecting to get something of value from them. As a company you should be providing value all the time, so find the right platform and promote yourself well.
An insightful presentation by Krista Seiden provided a reminder to the purpose of marketing which is company growth. This is a continuing trend within digital marketing to win new customers and retain current buyers for growth. However the marketplace is changing and the digital marketing professional is required to keep up with the demands of the marketplace.
Process Overview: Acquisition > Activation > Retention > Referral > Revenue
Her key points are to have your funnel in place and then not to make assumptions about your prospects or customers, even after they’ve bought from you, as they still see competitor marketing messages. Retention is key as a customer is more likely to buy again for less conversion cost, while referring their network.
Remember it takes 6 to 8 touch points to convert a customer and your experience is more important than ever to achieve click through in the current and future marketplace. Organisations must develop relationships with their customers through their brand, provide great experience, while always delivering value.
Having a “unicorn KPI” which is the key KPI for the company. This should be used to focus on what matters. As if you solve your customers problems then they will solve yours. But at the same time people are not just data, they’re individuals, not just analytics.
Every company should ask themselves: What is their Amazon Prime?
Machine Learning, AI and Answer Bots
Finally another key trend is the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence moving into the digital marketing space. It’s already pervaded the stock market to great effect so digital marketeers need to be aware of this change.
Google and Facebook are researching these areas heavily and this means that SEO and PPC environments maybe lost to machines who can implement, monitor and adapt in realtime leaving the digital marketeer in their dust. This is a dynamic area of development that is just getting started.
Google Answer bot could come to the aid of many customer service areas while supporting the expansion of voice search. With the advancing technology it’s likely that people won’t be able to tell the difference between a person and a machine before to long, if not already.
AI publishing deserves a mention in relation to automatic content creation. Healthcare, Law and Financial sectors are going to be the first to see machine content creation and publishing. The reason for this arises from content already in the space being previously reviewed and accepted. So the AI can chop and merge content from an already trusted pool. Gorkana is already an established media database. Again it’s unlikely readers will be able to tell the difference from machine articles to human published articles.