This week, we’ve got a great guest post from Andrew McLoughlin at Colibri Digital Marketing about new SEO trends and research, and what it could mean for content marketing and the way that we promote our small businesses online.
We’re only a month into 2018, but we’re already seeing important changes to the content marketing and SEO landscape.
Emerging data and recent studies are demonstrating meaningful changes in the ways consumers are browsing and using different devices, and their intentions in different contexts.
As marketers, it’s our job to be aware of and to account for these differences, so that we can do the best possible job for our clients, and provide engaging and useful content for our users.
With that in mind, it’s time to see how we can improve our approach to content marketing, in light of this new SEO data.
Most traffic comes from organic search
According to Bright Edge (2017: “Organic Search Is Still the Largest Channel”), organic is sitting at about 51% of overall traffic, with paid at 15%, social at 5%, and “other” comprising the remaining 29%. Despite this, less than a third of businesses (around 28% by most estimates) are actually taking any sort of active role in their site’s SEO.
While they may be hitting certain SEO points, it’s often a byproduct of their web design and their content in general. Their rankings are a side-effect of their content and of Google’s growing ability to parse and appropriately source that content for relevant queries.
That means there’s still a clear edge to be had from building strong SEO foundations into your content marketing.
With so little competition taking advantage of those avenues, a site could seriously improve their rankings, and drive a much larger share of that organic traffic their way.
Social traffic is curiously low
It does seem odd, doesn’t it, that social traffic (according to that Bright Edge study, above) only accounts for a paltry 5% of an average site’s userbase? Given the fact that virtually everyone has a social media profile of one kind or another, should not a site expect a certain amount of traffic to come their way from those social networks?
Well, it does make sense, despite the numbers.
Social networks want the kind of userbase Google enjoys, but they have a fundamentally different intention and philosophy. Google wants to deliver content as quickly as possible, like a match-making service.
Facebook or Twitter, on the other hand, are more insular. They want to keep users within their own networks – any traffic which moves to a new page (that 5%, above) is more like a leak, from their perspective.
Having said that, a strong campaign still has the potential to reach a huge audience, and that can lead to a burst in web traffic.
We suspect that a large part of the reason this kind of impact isn’t reflected in the overall averages is that people simply aren’t designing strong campaigns, or pushing them to the right kind of viewership.
Expecting Facebook to do the heavy lifting in making your post go viral is a losing battle. Rather, a good content marketer will take extra steps to craft the perfect campaign and entice the traffic to beat the odds.
Searches performed before a click depends on the platform
The best possible search engine is the one which requires the user to interact with it least.
Google wants to connect a user to the content requested in as few steps (clicks, inputs, scrolling, etc.) as possible.
No service will ever be perfect, but Google is doing pretty well. W
hat’s interesting is the extremely sharp divide between user behaviour for mobile and desktop users.
On the desktop, the click-through-rate is a little more than two thirds (67%). That is, in about two-thirds of cases, users search, then click a hyperlink.
On mobile, however, nearly two-thirds of searches do not lead to a click (57%).
Now there are two different ways to interpret this data.
One theory suggests that, since mobile users are often looking for a quick answer, a Featured Snippet or interactive PPC ad will suffice, so a click-through is unnecessary. That would be a point in Google’s favour. It also explains why desktop users (who are more likely to need to engage with content or services online in greater depth) will click through more often. Fair enough.
On the other hand, though, the same data can be interpreted to suggest that mobile users aren’t getting the results they’re looking for, and need to perform additional searches.
Maybe the cumbersome nature of a touch keyboard makes users less likely to type a full query on mobile, hoping a shorter, vaguer one will get the same results. Desktop users can be more precise.
Or maybe mobile users are more likely to be interrupted during even a quick search since they tend to be on the go.
Without cross-referencing that data with things like frequency of related follow-up searches for tracked mobile users, or search query length, it’s hard to be sure.
Absent further data, good content marketers should cover both options.
On one hand, using things like schema.org templates, to encourage featured snippets, will help fill the needs of many mobile users looking for specific information.
As well, including shorter, simpler keywords as a courteous concession to mobile keyboards will make it more likely for your content to find its way into the right hands.
Content is queen, rather than king
One of our oft-repeated mottos is simply this: Content is Queen.
There’s no way around it. For all your SEO talents, and all your marketing acumen, the basic, core truth is that there’s nothing more important than the content. That’s still true today, and it’s likely never going to chance.
That’s what makes content marketing different from traditional sales. In years past, it mattered less what a thing was than how you sold it. That just isn’t true in the digital age, where engagement and frequency of traffic are just as important as hard sales.
For 2018, though, keep in mind that content is more than just the written word. It’s images, videos, infographics, applets and tools, interactives, and more. YouTube is the second largest search network in the world right now.
Infographics are vastly more likely to be shared in some circles than articles or blog posts, simply because of their conicity or their artful presentation.
Good content marketing is all about providing the kind of content your user base will best engage with it.
So as we get started into 2018, keep these tips and trends in mind, and be sure that you’re doing all that you can to produce very best possible content, and take your business to the next level.