SEO in 2019 has changed, courtesy of Google’s 2018 algorithm updates. The giant search engine has intensified its focus on assessing the quality, depth and breadth of a website’s content, meaning that only businesses with exceptional content according to the updates, will optimally benefit from the SEO efforts.
Why you should care:
Google claims more than 90% of all web searches, making it the main way your target audience is likely to find your website. In the U.S alone, as of September 2018, Google had 69.03% of the search market share, while Google Images and Google Maps enjoyed 21.03% and 0.80%, respectively.
The image from SparkToro below shows us how the market has been shared with competitors.
What changed in 2018?
General Manager of Perficient Digital, Eric Enge, said that his company tracked the SEO performance of several sites and realised that only those that provided exceptional content in terms of depth, ranked highly on Google. Websites with weaker content did not enjoy such results.
To rank better, president of Avalauch Media, Matt Siltala, advises content creators to solve a problem and connect with their audience. If your blog can answer a question, appeal to your locality, get a lead and sell, you have a winner!
So, how do you do this?
10 Content Marketing Tricks You Should Not Ignore, To Keep Up!
1. Optimise For Mobile Use
Since the surge in Smartphone popularity, content marketing specialists have insisted on the need for mobile optimisation, a trick that some businesses would now find stale since it has been over-emphasised.
Well, this can never be over-emphasised because mobile still played a key role in the 2018 updates. From March 2018, Google began migrating sites to mobile-first index and also released a new index update to prioritise mobile user experience in organic search listings. Google Adwords is also set to check the mobile-friendliness of landing pages, further proving that mobile-first indexing and mobile-search optimisation will do the trick in 2019.
Additionally, one thing stood out, while 60% of searches were made from mobile devices, local searches made 82% of them!
Takeaway: Optimise for mobile, and create content that adheres to local SEO basics such as getting citations( listings of your Name, Address and Phone number- NAP-, on sites that aggregate business data and remain consistent; get on Google My Business; invest in social proof-online reviews, as well as getting local coverage.
2. Create Original and Relevant Content – Avoid Clickbait
Clickbait has been the devil of the century, some content marketers assuming that this is the best way to attract audience and earn clicks. Sadly, that’s all that clickbait does and Google hates it. This is because although the Click-Through Rate (CTR) is high, so is the bounce rate.
Titles catch the attention of humans who are naturally curious, only to be taken to a poor interface with very low-quality content. To Google, this sounds like you have written for the robots, something else that it hates.
So, what is low-quality content according to Google?
It is unsatisfying, lacks expertise, not very authoritative or trustworthy, hence does not meet the purpose of the page!
Sounds just like what clickbait is!
Instead, create original and relevant content to the subject matter. Not only will you rank highly on Google, but will experience great conversion rates as 78% of consumers confessed that personally relevant content from brands increased their purchase intent.
How to do this: Use your own ideas to create content, or hire a consultant when you hit a dead end; don’t copy viral stories to make them your own-be authentic; add your brand personality; and respect the mindshare and timeline of your readers.
3. Hire Micro-Influencers
Just like mobile optimisation, this is another aspect of content marketing that has been much talked about. Influencer marketing is hot, and influencers are taking it a notch higher, 79% planning to create more branded posts than they normally do.
Despite this, marketers are getting influencer marketing all wrong. According to Mallory Walsh, VP of Marketing at Stackla, the industry has lost sight of the fact that social influencers are essentially inauthentic, as only 23% of people believe that content from influencers and celebrities is authentic. It is no wonder, therefore, that only 36% of marketers consider their efforts effective.
So, what’s the trick?
Have local and national leaders in your niche embrace your business. People who are already authentic voices in the niche and considered experts.
Don’t ignore your customers. They serve as micro-influencers, thanks to their testimonials.
4. Product-Focused Content Is King
Thought leadership is arguably one of the powerful ways to boost brand awareness, establish authority and expand market share. While it has worked well over the years, Altimeter Digital Content Survey carried out in the 3rd quarter of 2018, shockingly revealed that product-focused content outperformed all other types of content.
User-generated content, which is also high-value content, came in last at 12%, as shown in the screenshot below.
Screenshot source: ConvinceandConvert
This is however not a hard rule, as the researchers found out.
While the results showed that consumers prefer the type of content that is least likely produced by the PR team, it all depended on the industry.
Retailers and manufacturers will benefit more from product-focused content, while service industries like healthcare, technology, finance will benefit from thought-leadership type of content.
In short, businesses offering services should focus more on convincing consumers why they are the authorities, while businesses that sell products will win by clearly showing why their product beats the rest.
Takeaway: While product-focused content is great, ensure that it is what works for your industry.
5. Short Videos Are The Best
Visual content marketing dominates 2019, as 54% of consumers want to see more video content from the brand they support.
So, yes, videos are great. But, you can get it wrong!
Thanks to the massive array of content on the internet, the human attention span has significantly shortened from 12 seconds in the year 2000, around the time Smartphones hit the market, to about 8 seconds today, worse than a goldfish!
This means shorter videos, to make sure that your audience gets to the end of your message. To support this, the same Altimeter survey, showed the preferred video length.
As you will notice from the screenshot below, static images, native advertising and blog posts, performed better than videos longer than 2 minutes, yet visual content rules!
Screenshot source: ConvinceandConvert
Takeaway: Wondering why your videos don’t have high conversion rates yet, statistics show that videos have great results? Reduce their length to less than 2 minutes!
6. Optimise For Voice Search
As a content marketer, optimising for keywords is among the basics. But, you have been optimising for typed-in keywords. With the rise of voice search (71% of people opt to use voice assistant as opposed to physically type their queries), you now need to reflect on how customers will ask questions with their voice.
The screenshot shows some of the things consumers use it for:
Screenshot Source: PWC
How do you optimise for voice?
Include long-tail keywords that sound more natural, instead of short ones- For example, ‘where do I get fried bread and mushrooms in London, ’ as opposed to, ‘fried bread and mushrooms London.’
Ensure that your phrases are short and simple because voice search results are at Year 10 level. Consequently, content marketers should break down complicated information in a way that’s easy for everyone to understand.
Short phrases don’t mean short content, however. Long-form content still ranks better for both voice and typed search results. With the best webpage-word average at 1850-2500 words, as shown in the screenshot below:
Screenshot Source: TorqueMag
Takeaway: Optimise for what people SAY, not just type!
7. Perfect Brand Storytelling
This sounds so simple-brag about your business and get others to talk about it.
Brand storytelling means delving into who you are, why you do what you do, the value you have placed on your customers and what the business means to you.
This is done in 5 simple ways:
- Show emotion
- Speak your truth- that’s your value proposition
- Make it relatable
- Reflect human values
- Allow your audience to narrate their stories in relation to the brand
Companies such as GoPro, AirBnB, and Equinox have mastered this art.
Takeaway: What’s your story? What makes your business tick?
8. Focus On Interaction Performance Metrics
You have probably analysed performance metrics on your content just to see how much your content marketing efforts are paying off. Well, you are not alone. Businesses have done this and in 2016, reach (37%) and engagement (36%) were the most popular performance metrics, marketers excited by how many people saw and engaged with their posts.
In 2019, things have changed, and interaction is now the performance metrics of choice. Marketers are also keener on the ROI, 23% focusing on efficiency and 23% on conversions to measure their content marketing success, as demonstrated in the screenshot below.
Screenshot source: ConvinceandConvert
Takeaway: Stick to what triggers customer interaction, is efficient and brings the money. Financially-focussed metrics are the in-thing and make so much sense.
9. Make Data-Driven Decisions
Experts have numerous tricks on how to make content marketing effective. Sadly, these tricks sometimes seem too overwhelming. You can join all social media platforms just because a hot one surfaced, and you cannot delve into all types of content such as podcasts, videos, Instagram stories and images.
Only 63% of content marketers are using their market data analysis to create content. Worse still, only 30% focus on geographical dividers, while another 30% create by account of the customer.
What these marketers forget is that these statistics and analyses are what gives them the exact content marketing tricks that work for that particular business.
So, as you consider all other tricks, begin by knowing:
- Your buyer persona- age, geographical location, gender, personality traits, pain points, what information they are looking for. This way, you create content that is extremely relevant to their needs.
- Survey your entire audience. Ask them the type of content they enjoy, what they think your business is missing, and competitors they like and why.
- Interview top customers
- Find out what your ideal customers really want
Takeaway: The answers lie with your audience and customers. Engage them and create personalised content.
10. Go Big On Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness (EAT)
Google’s search quality rating guidelines for 2019 clearly show the requirement for content that oozes Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness, otherwise known as E-A-T.
These ratings answer three key questions:
- How knowledgeable is the site owner on the subject matter?
- How credible is the website publishing the content?
- How trustworthy is the website publishing the content?
So serious is Google on these ratings that determine the quality of the content, that gossip sites, Q&A pages, humour sites, forums and fashion websites are also affected!
One would argue that this update is intended for Google’s algorithm raters and not Google’s algorithm itself, but founder of DHJ Ventures, Dixon Jones, offers great insight. He says while this might be true, we should not ignore it, as it helps us know Google’s short term direction.
Dixon adds that now businesses will recognise that quality comes with context and ranking highly is also directly proportional to how much of an authority you are, to a given subject.
How do you do this, especially when you are not an established authority in the subject matter, yet?
- Hire experts to author your content
- Leverage data from authoritative sources
- Give credit and credentials to your sources, of course with a bias to the brand you are promoting (the desired end result is still to market that brand).
- Establish yourself as the go-to source that journalists would consider.
You do that, and Google will reward you. Also, as it turns out, it is not the only search engine headed in that direction. Bing is also headed there.
Takeaway: In a digital world marred with fake news and unnecessary click bait, search engines are moving towards authoritative and credible content. Establish yourself as an expert, hire other experts to write your content and only cite reputable sources.