The below article was written by Click Consult’s Head of Organic Search, Mark McGonigle about the challenges that brands face, the changes they can make and the success that they can see. The piece originally appeared on their website.
For businesses, getting their strategy right can be the difference between success and failure.
What are the challenges that brands and businesses face today from a search marketing perspective?
All brands and business are continually striving for online growth and they are up against frequently evolving search engines with machine learning looking to return the right websites/content in order to achieve more ‘satisfied users’.
This is the biggest challenge facing search marketing, with the need to understand the metrics which the machines are classifying as ‘satisfied’.
There is a continual need to keep reviewing and evaluating the current search marketing strategies in order to ensure that they are correct and that they are returning the expected performance, through keyword positions and subsequent organic sessions.
This will either then be an acknowledgement that the strategy is correct or whether or not it needs altering based on the findings.
Being in strong keyword positions however is just the start, further metrics such as click through rate (CTR) and conversions which are ‘satisfied’ signals to the search engines also need to be continually reviewed.
Are there any new areas that businesses can expand on in terms of digital marketing and how does the future of the industry look?
I wouldn’t necessarily state ‘new areas’ to be expanded upon but I would say that there are areas which some sites feel that are unnecessary in relation to their site, even e-commerce sites need unique and knowledgeable content.
Google is smart enough to understand what the site and page is about, but creating content particularly at category level gives Google a better understanding of the pages it is serving.
Guides can sometimes be overlooked on e-commerce sites but can provide a valuable source of information which search engines will like.
We have seen better converting traffic for sites where informational terms have ranked – such as ‘the difference between’ & ‘what does X mean’
The feeling is that the idea of ‘intent’ appears to be much more critical in terms of the content you produce, and is something that has been overlooked by many businesses. Here at Click Consult, we have, especially over the past few strategy phases, looked at angles that represent a ‘new way of thinking’ or ‘approaching’ search marketing.
How can brands differentiate themselves from their competitors, particularly in congested and highly competitive industries?
As previously mentioned, good informative content will give a brand an edge over their competition – well as long at the content is better quality than their competitors.
But in addition to content there is still a lack of basic technical set up on sites which is the foundation that needs to be built upon, to include elements such as speed, mobile, markup, keywords and taxonomy of the site.
Ensuring the base set up of a site is correct and logical will allow the search engine bots to better understand and serve the content in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Another area which I have felt has fallen to the wayside over the past couple of years is online customer service. The better the customer service then the better reviews which can be requested and returned through structured markups – this then leads to better CTRs, which although not officially confirmed as a possible ranking factor, the machines are likely to be looking at this metric.
If you could pick one aspect of search marketing for a business to focus on if their goal is to grow quickly, what would it be?
Google has made it clear that the two main updates have been around mobile (March 2018) & speed (July 2018). Whereas these have been on most SEOs radar for a long time now there are still some sites which are catching up and would benefit from making changes to meet these two key updates.
Sites still insist on uploading large scale imagery causing load times to slow and mobile rendering more difficult which will ultimately make users leave or look elsewhere.
This all goes back to the ‘satisfied user’ theory.
As Head of Organic Search, what are the day-to-day challenges that you face in your role and what are the benefits you see?
Each morning I check daily rankings for key clients and if there is any significant change either positive or negative then it’s sleeves rolled up to gather an understanding on what has taken place.
Is it a greater roll out, is it a test, is it a blip, are we behind on delivery or has a piece of coding been added which has caused the issue? Any of these mean I have to piece together the puzzle.
I have to say however, it is ultimately satisfying once you understand what is happening and that stays with you, should this happen to other clients then you have the benefit of a check list to run through.
Undertaking checks on various clients and their industry, helps pull together a more comprehensive list, which would subsequently lead to a resolution.