Just like any other marketing effort, digital marketing is all about solving problems. And 2018 was no different from the previous year: it brought a fresh set of challenges that digital marketers simply had to overcome if they were interested in killing it in 2019.
Sometimes the challenges are as old as Google. Sometimes, it’s about the customers, the users of the Web.
But we’d like to look at problems as they are – in the present time, and demanding solutions that are hopefully for the long term. Here are new problems, and novel solutions in digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).
We have talked about this before on the Netmark blog, but this bears repeating, until it becomes second nature: Google uses a huge set of signals to measure the relevance of page content to specific search terms.
RankBrain is the machine learning system devised by Google to ‘learn’ how people interact with websites, and vice versa. The end-goal is to create a better experience for users who are looking for all kinds of information through the search engine.
If RankBrain doesn’t seem to love your website, and you are still way below your targeted rank for your specific search terms, you need to do something – fast.
Solution: To make RankBrain love you (your website, we mean), you need to do two things. One is to make people want to click the page title of the content that you are offering. This means you need better titles that draw people in. This will increase your click through rate.
But click through rate is just one aspect of the experience. Sure, Google loves its clicks. But what if people find that your content isn’t that good. They’ll leave. This is called “bounce” in digital marketing parlance. No, we do not want people to bounce. We want them to stay in your website for as long as possible.
The duration in which a person stays in a particular website is crucial to improving RankBrain’s assessment of dwell time. To increase dwell time, you need to:
– Create more engaging and useful content. Create content that people might want to share with their own networks.
– Organize your website so that it is easy to search for information. Large properties like WebMD are masters of information organization. And people can spend hours on WebMD just browsing through medical and health articles.
– Allow your content to be shared instantly. This means making sure that your social media plug-ins are all working correctly, and page loading time isn’t a mess.
– Make offers on your website. Allow people to sign up for services, email courses, and other free stuff. Keep them inside. Over time, the increasing dwell time will knock off the previous top rankers, and your website will be placed there.
Important: The average dwell time of top-ranked websites on Google is at least 3 min. & 10 sec. This might make you laugh out loud, but in the grand scheme of things, holding people’s attention this long is a big challenge but it can be remedied by improving your content offerings to people.
We’ve already talked about CTR (click through rate) and how it affects RankBrain’s ‘view’ of a website offering information to a market. Unfortunately, there are some basic hurdles that organic SEO practitioners need to overcome, such as:
Organic clickthrough rates have fallen precariously since 2015, and the figures point at something as huge as 37%.
Solution: We can’t help but compare how Google used to rank websites before and how it performs this crucial process presently. Before, Google was all about keywords.
A website can get on the number one spot for its target search terms if a specific keyword was always in its: title tag, URL, alt text (for images), description, and the H1 tag.
This was the point in Google’s history when people were complaining of all the low quality, fluff content that kept popping up because of websites exploiting Google’s ranking system.
The big difference now is that Google wants to give search engine users the best possible result when they type something into a search engine. Let’s say someone typed “types of braces in NYC.” This is a typical frame for a search of someone who might be interested in getting braces done in New York City.
So what does Google want to provide at this point in time?
What it wants is an in-depth piece of content covering all the different kinds of braces, plus the website has to be geo-tagged to New York City. Sure, there may be other non-geo-tagged websites in the top search results, but when it comes to zeroing in on location-based searches, Google wants to give people what they need.
With this “one stop shop” approach to providing information, what Google is essentially trying to do is it wants to provide the best possible choices and hopefully, the ones on the top of the searches will be exactly what people need when they type that keyword.
Again, we go back to the fact that you can only keep people interested if you cover a topic in an in-depth manner. Which brings us to problem number three…
Previously, we talked about how Google now prioritizes in-depth content. And obviously, if you are serious about digital marketing, you have to set aside some of your current efforts to developing in-depth content, to attract RankBrain’s good graces.
Solution: Creating in-depth content requires a bit of planning, but it is not impossible and everyone can do it as long as you follow these steps:
1. The length of the content is of utmost importance. Aim for 1850-2000 words with each piece of new content.
The length matters because this will give you space to cover all the relevant topics or bases for a specific interest. Think of it as writing a chapter of a book on the subject. Sounds old school, but this is the best possible comparison you can make.
2. Spice it up. Make your content more meaningful and engaging with photography, videos, infographics, and other images. Adopt a multimedia approach.
Videos also help with conversions and will increase the dwell time of your content instantly, because when people click on a YouTube video, they are going to stay on the website to watch it, instead of jumping to YouTube completely where the video will be removed from its previous context. Context is everything.
3. Use LSI keywords. LSI means “latent semantic indexing,” and it refers to how software learns the relationships between words.
There is a veritable tug of war between people who claim that LSI is not that effective and people who swear by it, but here’s the thing: the concept is healthy, and it definitely makes sense for people who market content.
There is evidence that Google is paying close attention to how contexts work, and the relationship between words or topics in a piece of content is the gateway that allows the search engine to learn.
The co-occurrence of different keywords as you lay down an informative and useful piece of content is key to building authority in your niche.
Here are some examples of LSI keywords:
Topic: cold chain supply
– cold chain supply management
– inventory management
– inventory management software
– retail supply management
You can use LSI tools online to get a feel of what kinds of keywords are naturally associated with the topics that you wanted to tackle.
Google’s Keyword Planner is also everyone’s starting point, though there have been many other online apps that do a better and more efficient job in harvesting keyword data.
Still, your best bet would be to hire the services of an SEO agency or company that can help you develop content based on natural keywords and LSI keywords, for both on-page and off-page optimization of your Web property.
Google’s “mobile first” index means people will be finding the mobile version of websites first when they perform searches, even if the searches are coming in from a desktop computer. Never heard of this change? Well, now you have.
Solution: The huge issue that this problem brings is that businesses normally pour so much of their resources in making the desktop version of their websites shine that they only take care of the mobile version as an afterthought.
You can easily solve this problem by using Google’s strategies for responsive design. Responsive design focuses on making websites adapt to the screen size of the device, and so on. Responsive design is here to stay, and trust us, it helps make websites load faster and the overall user experience improves when it has been made with responsive design.