As a marketer, I am already scared. Another core update on the way? Should we be marketing or cater to Google’s algorithms? That is a million dollar question. There is no news on the changes that the September 2022 broad core update would bring. Let’s see what it could entail, as of now…
Google is the market leader in search and the secret is that it regularly improves its ranking algorithm. According to the MOZ grapevine, we do not rule out an average of 8 to 10 updates a day out.
These are smaller algorithms, but a larger one is called the core update. A core update causes tremors in SERPs and we can feel them far and wide in the search landscape. Understanding core updates is the key to better search rankings.
A core update involves changing the search engine algorithm in a major way. So, search engine algorithms are ever changing. However, the impact of a core update is much larger.
The September 2022 broad core update
There has been no buzz yet about the September 2022 broad core update. Google announced a September 12, 2022 rollout and said it could take about 2 weeks to show changes. Core updates are mostly generic and this update would affect all languages, geographies, categories, and domains.
We do not yet know what the September 2022 broad core update would bring, but notable core updates we have from the search king are:
What’s common across all these updates is that we have seen large SERP swings and we can expect the same this time around.
Small updates Vs Broad core updates
As we saw earlier, Google updates its search algorithm about 8 to 10 times a day. These are minor updates and they improve relevance and quality of SERPs. They affect a few pages, possibly about 0.1 to 1 percent of searches. Normally, webmasters see little into these.
A broad core update could affect 5 to 10 percent of searches and Google releases about 2 to 3 such updates a year. The September 2022 broad core update is one of them and may cause tremors in SERPs. Such updates are planned weeks ahead and take more time to roll out to Google’s data centres. The September 2022 broad core update is going to take about 2 weeks to roll out completely.
With a broad core update, the search engine algorithm changes drastically and ranking might go up or take a beating.
For example, you may have some great work to focus on a certain ranking factor and a core update may do away with the ranking factor. Since the factor is no longer in play, your ranking drops. Conversely, the update could add another entirely new ranking factor and the results will be the same.
A broad core update or a medium update may also impose penalties for not following or adhering to Google’s search game.
For example, the helpful content update that was rolled out in August 2022. Or, the Panda update that gave out algorithmic penalties for thin content websites.
An update like the #september2022coreupdate may affect more than just search ranking. It may affect alternative listings like featured snippets, knowledge graph panels and PAA (People Also Ask) results.
Helpful content update is a part of a core algorithm update and is a site wide classification. It continuously runs even during the September 2022 broad core update roll out.
However, if Google makes the helpful content update a part of the September 2022 broad core update, it will be premature to predict the results. We have already seen that the helpful content update did not cause too much of noise.
As of now, the helpful content update gets only a shrug from most webmasters and a few of them are expecting it to be a part of the September 2022 broad core update. I agree with them; I feel the helpful content update will be a part of the broad core update.
Since Google has always advised to focus on content to be on its good books, I feel the helpful content update has not been as effective as expected. And the September 2022 core update is going to swing the pistol on thin content sites differently.
Dealing with a core update
All of us as marketers have learnt the hard way to deal with impactful Google updates, however, just a reminder as to how we can reduce its impact, in case…
Identifying a core update
Look for announcements across Google blogs. Better still follow @searchliaison at twitter to get to know more about forthcoming updates and news from Google.
Preparing for a core update
First read about the update. Google normally announces the purpose of the update and its impact before rolling it out, but not always. For example, we are yet to understand the purpose of September 2022 broad core update.
If you feel that your website is going to be affected, you may need to tweak certain aspects of your search engine optimization process.
Once the SERPS change, keep track of your search console and do nothing yet.
The SERPs will bounce for a few weeks. Let them settle down before taking any action. This may sound like inaction, but it is best to act once the update has settled down.
In my opinion, the September 2022 core update will not change SERPs much. And Google’s recommendation to contend with core updates has always been to focus on content. So, if you spot-on with content, there is nothing to worry. Also, with the helpful content update not disturbing the waters much, I do not see the September 2022 broad core update making waves.
Go on, comment below about how this core update is going to swing the SERPs.
Creating a link building strategy is not a simple process. For successful at link building, it is critical to understand a few subdued factors that effect the strategy, long-term.
We would not recommend link building for every business. More so, in the digital marketing space, even a marvellous link building strategy may not justify the spend on it.
Unlike most digital marketing components, a link building strategy is not really measurable. For example, if you have built 100 good (purported) links across the month and you get minuscule traffic from only 2 or 3 of those links, how do you justify the spend?
Of course, you may get more traffic from them in the coming months. Despite the forecast, is there a way to track a single user, coming from a particular link has converted?
For businesses that have thousands of users landing on their webpages, month on month, this is a significant challenge. Undeniably, links are important, only the link building strategy should be more dependable and organic than emailing and begging for (reciprocal or paid) links.
Link building is important. However, driving growth on one hand is tough, and there are many other, better opportunities out there than executing a link building strategy as a growth hack. A link building strategy can turn into a growth hack only when all related components are perfectly placed.
And that, my dear marketers is a great challenge. In this article, let us look at all those components that can sky-rocket your link building strategy to yield best results possible.
In this backdrop, let us explore the challenges and opportunities (blockers and enablers) of having a good link building strategy. We will take a digital marketing agency perspective on this.
Blockers to a link building strategy
Executing link building strategies is no simple task, and it is most undermined part of the search engine optimization process and mostly practiced due to certain myths. It has a lot of dependencies on other process and cutting through client red tape is an enormous challenge.
There are over 50 types of links you can build as a part of your link building strategy. Choosing from them will depend on your business, competition, and a few other factors.
Whatever your choices are, you will need permissions and approvals from various departments and people before you can proceed, not just your point of contact.
Or, the point of contact should take the responsibility for getting things done on time.
Any link building strategy will depend on content, for which you may take the campaign or a PR route, probably reaching out to people in the press. In the client space, the blockers are:
Technology – Client’s technology department can turn into a blocker when it comes to uploading your content (for the link), especially if it is a complicated process, unlike posting a blog post. You may not get it on time, hampering your success rate.
Content creation – The content creation team, including copywriters, UX and graphics teams, may not be working on the same schedule or speed that you need. They would also want to sign off on whatever is produced, and this is going to hamper your performance.
Communications – Client’s PR or communications team may have its own list of journalists or people who can help with your link building strategy. However, they may not want you to interact with people on that list. This hinders your ability effecting your success rate.
Legal – For businesses, especially in the health, medical, insurance and finance niches, producing any content will not help. Since 3rd parties regulate these niches, not everything can go on to the website. The content needs to be accurate and should not be misleading. If your client falls into one of these niches, it seriously impedes your opportunities to build links.
Outcomes of internal blockers
There could be more blockers than what we discussed above. Whichever may be the case, it is not impossible, and you can still go on with your link building strategies with minor adjustments. Let us see the outcomes when these blockers come into the picture, singularly or combined.
Delayed campaigns leading to lesser links than targeted, leading to wasted resources and lost opportunities. Let us not forget the frustration it brings.
Campaigns could get affected because of edited messaging, which could be tangentially different from what was intended.
Your targets may seem impossible at times because of lesser outreach and without your fault.
The above consequences are very real in the link building world. Blockers are the last thing you or your clients need. If we do not build links on scale and on time, there is no point in building them. If these blockers exist in your business, it is best not to waste money on a link building strategy.
Investment on link building should wait for a perfect time after these blockers are removed or you along with the client evolve a system to bypass them.
When you are speaking to a client who needs SEO services (inclusive of link building), the first thing you will need to understand and clarify is how they interpret link building success.
Yes, your point of contact will tell you a few things:
Number of links
Quality of links
This is a good place to understand that the client interprets success in terms of revenue and sales.
However, depending on how the client’s business is aligned, you will need to ask a few more probing question. It is important to clarify how they visualise link building as a part of their SEO process and how valuable they think it is.
You will need to see how they measure your efforts and who looks at your reports.
Only your point of contact or if it goes higher to the C level executives?
You can use some hints to understand this:
Interviewing you about your process and how you measure KPIs.
Getting involved in shaping the link building strategy.
Setting up targets and objectives.
Being involved in the pitch and onboarding.
If any of the above happens, you can be rest assured that the C-Club is involved in the process and they take your performance seriously. If you don’t see any of these signs, it is probable that you are in for trouble soon.
A C-Club guy will look at allocating the budget and check the activities on which it is being spent. He or she will look at value for money and if it lacks, there is every chance that they will pull the rug from under your feet.
Lesson: Create value for the client.
Alternatively, if the client’s C-Club is not involved in your process, it means that it is not important for their business. In which case, work harder than normal to get things done.. Remember, internal blockers will be harder to manage.
Another aspect that you need to consider when the C-Club is not involved due to lack of knowledge about link building, they may not be interested in investing on it.
Lesson: Explain and prosper.
Your client’s website may not be technically good or is buggy. In which case, your best of link building strategies will not yield results. When the website is fixed, they may see a little up rise in rankings. However, medium and long-term goals will go for a toss.
Link building has changed over time and is effective only when the website has good technical SEO and on-page SEO, caters to core web vitals and has good, optimised content. If these parameters are not in place, link building will be a waste of resources.
No website is 100% perfect, but the above basic parameters need to be catered to. They are critical to any successful link building strategy.
If the website is not technically good, you will need to tell the client to prioritise that process before opting for link building services. And, if you offer web development services, this rings an opportunity bell for you.
Enablers for a link building strategy
Now that we are done with the blockers, let us see how to build a workable link building strategy using existing online assets.
Good links from top-notch websites are critical to rank well, again, depending on the competition. The number of links coming to a webpage that you want to rank is important.
But, links are not the only ranking factor. So, there is no ‘perfect’ number of links to rank well. Links will improve your search rankings, but capitalising on them for maximum impact is necessary to make the most out of them.
Let us look at a few link building enablers that can help you create a good impact.
Also known as user intent or query intent, search intent is the goal a searcher has while he types in the search query. If your aim is to attract relevant traffic that converts well, you need to align your links to match search intent.
Just having several links does not satisfy the user when he lands there, and therefore, your page will not rank well in the long term. If you looking at short-term result, probably you will succeed.
There is a simple way to check this. Look up the webpage in a tool like Ahrefs and if you see a strong domain rating along with links from too many root domains compared to the site ranking on the first page, you are not matching user intent properly.
Search intent optimization is a very important factor to rank well. I have written an article on search intent optimization, what it is and, how to measure it.
Apart from your link building strategy that built a good number of links, there are other factors like on page SEO or domain age that play a huge part. However, catering to search intent is primary for your link building process to be effective.
Without fixing the intent and content issues, solely relying on your link building strategy will be interpreted as gaming the search (by search engines) and Google will not take it lying down. And now it is time to optimise your web page content.
Search intent optimization will work wonders only when you optimise the content on your webpage. These factors go hand in hand to improve the bounce rate and rankings.
Link building is secondary to optimised content, and the entire effort of building links is wasted without user specific content that adds real value to the user. So, your link building strategy should focus on content optimization before deploying.
Promotional pages, low word counts and content specifically written for search engines will not cut the cake. The recent helpful content update from Google underlines the importance of content in simple terms. I have written an article on understanding helpful content update that can help you fix content on your webpages.
The best way to understand helpful content update from Google is by honestly answering the questions posed on the Google Search Central Blog about this update. Let us take some time out to answer them by taking this website as an example.
We have done another post a few days ago on helpful content update and that was about the repercussions of not adjusting your content to this update. As an addition to it, this article is a guide to answering these critical questions and the reasoning behind them. This will help us better understand this update that promises to make the internet a much better place and a level playing field.
What better way to analyse if we are going to be penalised while the helpful content update rolls out. Before we go through the content on our website, we would like to answer the 15 questions posed on the Google Search Central Blog. And, you should do the same after reading this post. It will help us isolate bad content or pages, if any.
Once you analyse all your webpages, you will need to understand what Google wants by answering the questions below. Next, change the content on the affected pages as you think fit.
The first advice by Google is to:
“Focus on people-first content”
People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value. Answering yes to the questions below means you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach.
For example, some links you have built over the years using your link building strategy, and a visitor land at your webpage, is the content helpful to him? Think…
Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
Yes, my audience will find my content useful. Which means the content adds real value to real visitors and helps them understand or find something related to their visit intent. It does not focus on adding value to search engines using tactics like keyword stuffing, content automation, doorway pages, negative SEO on competitors, cloaking, sneaky redirects, link schemes and hidden links or text. If you have any such stuff on your webpages, it is wise to rethink, remove and go honest with great, qualitative content. To avoid being pushed down the ranks, understand the helpful content update, get it re-written or get it fresh. We can do it for you, get in touch.
Does your content show first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
Yes, we are experts at what we do. Expertise shown across the table is always more powerful. Here, since we are using a website to showcase it, the only way we achieve this is by creating in-depth content. Showcasing knowledge helps in creating trust, uplifting the brand, getting repeat customers and finally, more sales. In understanding the helpful content update, you can evolve as an expert and a thought leader in your own domain. EAT is the way to go. It is a win-win all the way.
Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
Yes, our website has a primary focus. We are a vertically integrated bespoke, strategic digital marketing agency and our website demonstrates it. This means that we offer customised digital marketing strategies to align with your domain, your business vision and mission and your targets. We do not spray and pray like most other marketing agencies. They have the same roadmap for all businesses and domains. If we understand this helpful content update properly, we will rank higher in this highly competitive niche.
After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
Yes, what do you think? You have been through this post and are you feeling you have learned something up to now? And, will this knowledge help you answer these questions for your own website? If yes, then our content is meaningful and people-first.
Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
Yes, aren’t you happy reading this article up to this point? Can you say it satisfied you with the knowledge you have gained and help to answer these questions for your own website? Simply put, do you understand your readers? Do you write for them? Yes, you answered this one.
Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?
Yes, of course. As far as core updates go, Google says core updates can drop or raise the SERP, however that is not a penalty. When it drops, you may feel the need to do something. Give it some cool-off time and focus on creating valuable, informative, people-first content. That is the only thing Google rewards. And for product reviews, we have done many for customers and we have always followed Google’s guidelines.
Our recommendation: We recommend you keep answering and re-answering the above questions until you answer ‘YES’ to all of them. Keep identifying lacunae in your content, identifying bad webpages and understand helpful content update. Change, rewrite or put fresh quality content on those pages that do not cater to the above guidelines.
The second advice by Google is to
“Avoid creating content for search engines first”
Our advice about having a people-first approach does not invalidate following SEO best practices, such as those covered in Google’s own SEO guide. SEO is a helpful activity when it’s applied to people-first content. However, content created primarily for search engine traffic is strongly correlated with content that searchers find unsatisfying. How do you avoid taking a search engine-first approach? Answering yes to some or all of the questions is a warning sign that you should reevaluate how you’re creating content across your site.
Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
No, of course not. We write for people with an intent to become thought leaders soon. Yes, we follow search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to enhance the content and help Google index our pages with a proper SERP and no more. Additionally we resort to content marketing with best practices in place. What is the point of writing content, if it does not reach the audience?
Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hope that some of it might perform well in search results?
No, we are not producing lots and lots of content because, as we said earlier, we do not spray and pray. We create content with a discipline about happenings in the industry (like this post) and that which helps people overcome challenges by adding real value to them. And, we understand we will come on top, in time. Yes, we follow, SEO best practices and do live on hope, founded on hard work.
Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
No, automation for creating content is a no go for us. Automation does not give quality and as far as we understand helpful content update, we are looking to write content that is considered people-first. Everyone has a distinct style of written communication and it is more of an art form whereas automation is more of a science. Expectations do not match. No, we do not create, use or encourage bot content.
Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
No, not at all, we only produce content that has not been produced before (like this one) or content that helps people solve a problem. Most content on the internet is about problems and no actual solutions. We are trying to address it by offering content that solves something.
Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
No. In this article, we are expressing our answers to help you sort out your website content after understanding helpful content update. This topic is trending as of now, but this article will remain forever to solve your issues, so we are writing for you, our existing audience.
Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
No. Do you feel that way reading this? If yes, we would love your comments below on this ground. We will take action and make this page a comprehensive solution to understanding the helpful content update.
Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
No, because Google does not have a preferred word count. Yes, you read the correctly. Google indexes longer articles better, not because they are long, but because they are comprehensive and offer better information. Google indexes content that adds real value to readers.
Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
No, if we do not have expertise in a domain, what will we do with traffic? In the long term, a business without expertise has to fail. We are not setting up ourselves for failure. We have been here for over 20 years and have no intention of leaving this space. If we understand the helpful content update correctly, we are setting ourselves up for a colossal success. Are you?
Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?
No, for example, today, these questions have been asked and no one has answered them, as far as we know. Making false promises or asking misleading questions is a criminal waste of time, both for the publisher and the reader. Anyone who knows English can understand these questions on the Google Search Console Blog. The aim of this post is to find out if we are all on the path to progress. We are analysing our content based on these questions and we did not need to change any content.
Our recommendation: We recommend you think and keep answering and re-answering these until you answer ‘NO’ to all of them. Keep auditing your content. If required keep changing the content.
Here is a help sheet that you can use to answer the above questions with simplicity and define your SEO path.
We have done our job of answering these questions and did not need to change a word of content. We are confident that our rankings will go North. Our final advice to every website out there is to be honest and refrain from gaming the search engines. They are way too intelligent for us and you will get yourself into trouble, if not today, tomorrow.
Announced on Friday 19th August, 2022, the helpful content update from Google is to roll out from 25th August, 2022, and it would take about 2 weeks to fully roll-out. Official launch date is yet to be announced.
As of now, this update will only effect the English language websites, however, this could change in the future. Google has termed this as a ‘meaningful’ update and said that it would profoundly effect technology, entertainment, education and shopping domains. As of now, we do not know the percentage of searches this could effect.
Marketers have began taking steps towards aligning their content to the impending (a lot of experience goes behind using this word :)) update. One of my favourite marketers @cyrusshepard tweeted:
Google has been collecting loads of date from its feedback link on its search page, other links and social media about the quality of search results across audiences. Results say, searchers are not happy with what they are finding and this is Google’s attempt to improve the search quality.
How helpful content update works?
First, this update is slated to be a site-wide update, which means that it will effect the entire website and change ranking signals across all the webpages in there. The helpful content update will identify content that has low or no significant value to the searcher, automatically. This means that websites hosting content created solely for ‘SEO’ will be penalised.
What is unhelpful content?
“Tackle content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines.”
“Help make sure that unoriginal, low-quality content doesn’t rank highly in Search,”
Any website with pages containing unhelpful content, written solely for search engine rankings will perform poorly in search, hereon. This is reason enough to remove those pages unhelpful content, so that the other pages on the website containing helpful content could rank better.
How to classify?
This helpful content update will classify websites containing unhelpful content and apply this signal. Since the classifier is going to run continuously, coming out of this classification will take a few months to come out of. After long-time monitoring (validation of several months) of the classified website and if unhelpful content does not return, the classifier will stop applying.
How the update classifier works?
“Continue refining how the classifier detects unhelpful content and launch further efforts to better reward people-first content.”
“A natural question some will have is how long will it take for a site to do better if it removes unhelpful content? Sites identified by this update may find the signal applied to them over a period of months. Our classifier for this update runs continuously, allowing it to monitor newly launched sites and existing ones. As it determines that the unhelpful content has not returned in the long-term, the classification will no longer apply,”
The classifier is fully automated and it does not come with any manual actions. However, Google has not specified a time-line on this classification, and is not expected to be specified. To add, it is a site-wide signal making it mighty harmful to thin-content websites and the ranking degrade could be quite harsh.
The effect of classification will depend upon the ratio between helpful content and unhelpful content on a website. Classification will depend on this ratio. So, more the helpful content, less the signal weightage.
So, websites that exist on the basis of ‘SEO’ will need proper pruning to survive and prosper beginning now. The content on such websites is normally thin and offers little or no value to the reader.
Will the helpful content update change SEO forever?
According to our experts, the helpful content update will change content strategies across the board. Remember how the Penguin and Panda updates changed content and link strategies respectively, a few years ago? This update, we understand along with most marketers, will be a successor to the Panda update and have a similar bang with a different flavour.
How does it hit you?
The tremors will hit the Google search planet and not on other Google surfaces, but it will spread quickly. Being a site-wide update, it is imperative that we audit the content across the website and just not the webpages that have thin content. SEO content creation will not be the same again after the helpful content update.
Being a site-wide update, SEO tweaks or tricks like moving thin-content pages to a sub-domain or to other folder will not work. To add, a #noindex tag will be of no help because it does not prevent Google from looking at those pages. The only way out is to remove the content classified to be unhelpful or make it supremely helpful.
“Any content – not just unhelpful content – on sites determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content overall is less likely to perform well in Search, assuming there is other content elsewhere from the web that’s better to display. For this reason, removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.”
“How can you ensure you’re creating content that will be successful with our new update? By following our long-standing advice to create content for people, not for search engines. People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilising SEO best practices to bring searchers addition value. Answering yes to the questions below means you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach:”
“How do you avoid taking a search engine-first approach? Answering yes to some or all of the questions is a warning sign that you should reevaluate how you’re creating content across your site:”
Google asks these content questions. concisely, we think the following is the best pruned list.
Is your content focussed on attracting visitors from search engine results?
Are you using AI content or any other automation to produce content on varied topics?
Is the objective of creating content is to rank better on search engines?
Are you rehashing other’s content with adding any value to it?
Is your content holistic or are your visitors looking to search again for the same information?
By the way, Google doesn’t have a word count, are you counting words to keep search engines happy?
Are you an expert on your topic or just skimming it for search engine performance.
Is your content answering questions or just beating around the bush?
Is your content ingenue meaning you lack expertise in what you are writing?
Do you keep Google’s core updates and guidance for all kinds of content you create?
Does your content need a revamp?
Besides answering the above questions, does your content meet the wants and needs of the visitor? Or does it meet the search intent?
We have already discussed the classic classification of search intent in our article on search intent optimization. Besides the broad intents we discussed there, there are certain sub-intents that you will need to consider while creating or revamping your content.
As a part of the sub-intents we discussed above, we can classify wants of a visitor as
Want to know – Visitors looking for information. Also called the ‘know’ query.
Want to do – Visitors looking at DIYs and How-Tos. Also called the ‘do’ query.
Want to buy – Visitors looking to purchase something. Also called the ‘buy’ query.
Want to go – Visitors in local search looking to go somewhere. Also called the ‘visit’ query.
6 Needs of the visitor
We do not exactly call these wants, but these are the emotions that a searcher experiences going through the search process. Besides satisfying intent, the content should help connect to the searcher emotionally. Emotions affect search behaviour directly and understanding these emotions is critical to your content marketing.
Help: The visitor needs help and thus wants to connect through a search.
Surprise: The visitor surprises himself with more possibilities or could be entertaining.
Thrill: The visitor is adventurous and finds new ideas or possibilities.
Reassurance: It reassures the visitor to find answers because of the search.
Education: Education or learning new things through searching can be a very satisfying experience for an inquisitive visitor.
Satisfying: The visitor is impressed and happy with the way his search has gone once he or she finds the required information.
Adhering to the above simple and straight-forward rules to tweak your content can get you into Google’s featured snippets with ease. Getting into ground “0”SERP is now easier but not guaranteed,
Let us know if you need a content revamp across your website for helpful content update. We will be happy to discuss and our team will do a prefect job of it.
Search intent – Our unique perspective
Google’s core web vitals update from 2021 is absolutely in line to create a level playing field that will fulfil its objectives along with this helpful content update. In it’s objective towards organizing the world’s information, Google is going ahead with its plans to consolidate its search supremacy with great aligned objectives that will remove the unneeded stuff from its index and help create a neutral, honest and a level-playing platform.
Search intent optimization, when taken into account with this update makes a lot of sense. When search intent is taken into account along with SEO and executed with the above content guidelines will help create valuable content in line with the helpful content update. This will go a long way in ensuring that you top the search engine rankings with honesty (white-hat).
It would now be easier to create an awesome, long-term marketing strategies that will go a long way in giving you expected results creating a sustainable business. All in all, a better bang for the buck.
Achieving monthly targets for marketing or sales teams is difficult and tough. Scoring marketing leads and then re-scoring by sales can work very well to achieve targets in a smarter way. Identifying and prioritising leads to chase is the first step to getting there.
Why score marketing leads?
Every business is unique, and each has its own lead scoring system. Scoring marketing leads is not entirely a scientific process, it is an unknown blend of experience and data. Experience is a variable, however, having accurate data can help you score the leads efficiently. Smarter scores are workable and yield results. The process of scoring marketing leads changes depending on the digital marketing trends.
Lead score is usually a number that, normally expressed in percentage of chances of making the sale. Once you have a few leads in your marketing pipeline, score each one based on a set of pre-determined metrics. This will not only help pass valid leads to sales but also give you insights into what leads you are generating and how you can tweak the marketing process to attract better leads. This cyclic process will help you get better at the game with time.
Marketing lead scoring
Marketing lead scoring can be simple or complicated depending on your domain and business goals. Looking at old data and analysing successful buyer journeys and their persona is a very important aspect of lead scoring. Most businesses do not take this into consideration, when considered your lead scores can change drastically and the process can be simplified and accurately executed.
Step 1: Choose scoring variables
Scoring marketing leads involves understanding of your visitors. Create an average audience profile that resonates the characteristics of your average customer. Categorise by profession – do they run their own businesses or are they salaried? What is their domain? What are their actions before making a purchase – free trials, sampling? Take a feedback from sales and analyse the basis of their conversion to customers.
Normally, scoring marketing leads depends on the following variables:
Industry – Depending on your product or service, which domains or industries do you cater to? Get data from sales, analyse it and sort them by industry, calculate the percentage of conversion domain-wise. Use this data as a basis for analysing leads in the current pipeline.
Business size – Which size of businesses or customers working in those businesses gets you a higher conversion rate? SMBs Vs enterprise businesses is a big touchpoint to score your leads.
B2B – If your products or services are B2B, who approved the purchase from the client’s end? A C-Club executive, a VP, a manager or the purchase department? This analysis will give you accurate data on target oriented marketing.
Website – As the owner of the website, the marketing team needs to identify pre-purchase activity. Scoring marketing leads here will also depend on free-trial customers or visits to pricing pages, etc. If you can analyse and execute search intent optimisation (https://efficaci.us/search-intent-optimization-a-complete-guide/), it will give you fantastic results.
All touchpoints or factors that identify your high converting customers are called “segments”or “variables” in marketing lead scoring jargon. They do not have barriers and are interchangeable. Once you have these segments or variables in place in your entire marketing funnel, the next step is to find out the value of these leads.
Step 2: Analyse average conversion rates
Once you are done with marketing lead scoring for all leads in the funnel, you can use the following methods to calculate the conversion rates and the lead yield.
Conversion rate – Conversion rate is a simple ratio between the number of conversions or deals and the total leads. The formula:
(# of deals or conversions / Toal leads) * 100
Lead yield – This is the ratio between the total revenue from closed deals and the total leads. The formula:
Total revenue from deals / Total # of leads
Once you are done with these calculations, prioritising the conversion rate of lead yield will depend upon your business goals and the pricing models. For example, if you run a subscription-based revue model, conversion rates are very important because you are getting long-term customers and their value increases. If you are selling white goods, lead yield is a prioritised metric because you are doing onetime deals and onetime price is the only revenue.
Once this prioritisation is done, it is time to delve deeper into your lead behaviour and fine tune it.
Step 3: Compare your data
Once you are done with the ratios, how do you know if they are good or bad? It is always important to compare them with your old data. To do that, calculate the same for all your customers over a period (1 year data should be good enough). This will give you the conversion rates and lead yields for an average customer. Compare the present data (probably for the last 30 days or a month) with the average customer data. This insight is very critical to marketing lead scoring.
For example, if your lead conversion rate is 20% for the last year and your present funnel segment is averaging 5%, the lead score assigned should be low.
Step 4: Assign lead score to variables and segments
Scoring marketing leads depends on the how the present data on a particular segment compares to your old data. Many businesses use a scale of 1 to 10. However, if you are looking for precision, expanding the scale to 1 to 100 will be a good idea.
Having keys within the score will enhance your consistency in marketing lead scoring. Use a point system, for example, a 10% lead score could be equal to 2 points and so on. A larger scale will be more precise for now and for future analysis.
Step 5: Evaluate leads
Once you have the list of attributes (as in Step 1) and lead scores, use them to evaluate leads in the funnel, one by one. Although many CRMs make a good job of lead scoring, a manual evaluation will give you more insights. Once you do this 5 or 6 times, the differences between a CRM evaluation and yours will be transparent and you can only expect so much from a CRM. This data will be useful to enhance your experience of marketing lead scoring and fortify your perspective on the differences.
Add up the attribute scores for each prospect in the funnel and create a list. You will have a much clearer perspective on the leads you are generating and this data can help tweak your marketing strategy and the sales pitches used.
Lead scores in marketing strategy
Once you have a first-hand experience in marketing lead scoring and understand the conversion attributes for your business and domain, you will gain insights into new marketing opportunities.
These could include better targeted marketing, targeted landing pages, targeting newly found segments and variables. This will help identify and prospect for high-scoring customers on the right channels.
These insights will also help recreate targeted email marketing campaigns month on month. When the outreach is better targeted, results are not far away.
Marketing lead scoring helps marketers target the right customers and get a higher value for their efforts. However, marketing and sales need to work in tandem here and tread the thin red line between them with care.
Make this process a part of your digital marketing strategy. After all, a cohesive business is always more efficient than not.
Search Engine Optimisation is a common enough term almost anyone online understands. However, this article is an eagle’s eye-view on SEO for beginners. SEO has been there for ages. According to multiple online sources, the acronym ‘SEO’ was first coined in 1997, about 34 years ago, predating all popular search engines. The 1990s saw many search engines – Excite, AltaVista, Infoseek, Ask Jeeves, Lycos, Yahoo , google  and others.
The credit of coining ‘search engine optimization’ goes to the manager of the rock band (probably Bill Thompson), Jefferson Starship. He came up with this when he was upset about the rocks band’s official website ranked on the 4th page of a legacy search engine and not at position 1 on page 1. We credit this information to Bob Heyman, Managing Partner, Digital Engagement Group.
What is SEO?
SEO or search engine optimization is a method of building or organising your website [technical SEO] and its content [on-page SEO] and marketing it to search engines based on content, links and other off-site factors. [off-page SEO]. By the way, if you really want to brand your business and sky-rocket your marketing, please remember that Google is not the only search engine though it commands a market share of over 92% of the search market, as of June 2021.
Let us browse a simple list of how the entire process of SEO works.
The entire foundation of search engine optimisation is based on keywords or key-phrases. We should optimise each webpage on your website for a keyword for which you want that page to be found on the search engines. This works webpage by webpage and not the entire website.
SEO for beginners
If the foundation is not good, your SEO skyscraper will not be stable. In this SEO for beginners guide, this is the most critical step of search engine optimization and if increasing relevant traffic to your website is a priority, this research and hard work is critical. Make a list of webpages that you want to appear on search engines.
Build a relevant audience or a customer profile with as much data as you can. Delve on it a little more and wear the customer’s hat. Think like him and write five (more the merrier) queries that he could use to search for your product or service. Make a list.
Make a comprehensive list of your top ten competitors. Check their websites, read their content and analyse their meta tags (keywords and other data defined in the backend code). This will help you generate more ideas and fill the gaps. Add to the list you are creating.
Look into long tail keywords (queries that are two or three words long). Long tail keywords or key phrases are important although they do not bring in much traffic. They bring relevant traffic; they are easier to rank for and are less competitive.
Use keyword suggestion tools. Google has an exceptional tool and there are many others you can use. On an important note, you can estimate the traffic for each suggested keyword, helping you to make an informed decision.
Move the list to your marketing think tank. Brainstorm and come up with the best ones. Prune the list to a maximum of 2 to 3 queries (keywords or key phrases). You see that they are just synonyms of each other and similar. These are your key phrases or keywords that you want that webpage to rank for.
And then? On-site SEO
For those who are beginners in SEO, begin with on-page SEO process. Implement the keywords or key phrases you choose everywhere when you market that webpage – blog posts, social media marketing posts that you may use for off-site marketing, the web page content and also into the meta tags -title, description and keyword tags (talk to your SEO guy, he will know). This process is also called on-site SEO or on-page SEO. Remember not to overdo it. Just a 2% integration will do (a.k.a keyword density). formula
While your team is doing this, remember that search engines look at your page differently. It differs from what you see. They see it in the HTML format (the code of the web page). So the keyword density that you would vary and it will be on a higher side depending on other variables. Nothing to worry.
Now, the webpage that you want to market needs to be optimised for click-through rates. Now, this is where your UX [user experience or design] team may get into loggerheads with the SEO team, but we can agree on a workable strategy. Optimising for CTR simply means the placement of ‘next step/action’ boxes at places where they are most visible and get more clicks.
Technical SEO is about adjusting certain factors that have a direct affect the crawling and indexing of the webpage by search engines. Things like core web vitals, site speed optimization, hreflang tag, canonicalisations, structure data, etc. might sound Greek to you. However, these are important facts that need changing or adjusting. Your SEO guy can throw more light on these. SEO for beginners is not about technology, it is about marketing.
Off-site or Off-page SEO
Off-site SEO includes activities that are done away from your webpage or website. I will discuss a few of them here. Rest we will discuss in later posts, when I delve into their categories. These activities will include link building, press releases, brand building, local SEO, forums, events, guest posting, podcasts and reviews. You can find more help with other processes like content marketing, social media marketing, influencer marketing, search engine marketing, content syndication in other posts of this blog.
If the key phrases or keywords that you chose for marketing your webpage are competitive, it is critical that you do off-page SEO. Off-page or off-site SEO improves your webpage’s authority. It means that you are building your brand and goodwill. People will buy from a more authoritative website than from one that has lesser authority.
When your content is spot-on, meaning, if it is informative, detailed, unique and well-written, other websites (relevant websites) would like to link to it, which is great. Organic link building has always been good for webpage health. Th more sites link to your webpage, the more link juice (Google jargon) you will get and you will have a better SERP [Search Engine Ranking Position]. Link juice flows top to bottom, so try to build links to webpages that have more authority than yours.
The past 20 years have seen a lot of changes in search engine algorithms that penalised many websites for building irrelevant links. Relevance is about friendly domains and related businesses. If link building were as easy, everyone would have links everywhere. Marketers fought with Kung Fu Pandas and Madagascar Penguins in a no-win situation (Panda and Penguin are a series of Google Search Engine Algorithm updates) and a losing game.
First, instead of changing a marketing strategy umpteen times, due to search engine updates, it is only wise to stick to an honest policy and a sustainable marketing strategy. Gaming the search engines is not your business. Leave it to the underground experts. Focus on your core competence, running your business. More relevant links to your webpage means more goodwill and more authority.
Press releases traditionally are announcements in the press like newspapers, magazines, etc. In the online space, we relegate press releases to the same stature. However, in the recent years, they have become great marketing tools used for link building.
Any new event or announcement, propagated digitally, gets anywhere between 10 to 25 links from good, authoritative websites. So, today, it is critical that everything your business does should see the digital press. Press releases also drive tons of referral traffic, improve brand awareness, and positions your business as a thought leader in the domain, bringing in trust signals.
For good content creators, PR is the greatest tool when for beginners in SEO. Write a great story, link your digital assets and ensure that you publish a press release frequently. Yes, releasing a press release costs money, but the advantages it brings in are tremendous.
Gone are the days when people never used a brand name to search for something. Today, if you want to buy a pair of scissors, your search will be for ‘Belmont Scissors’ or ‘Scissors on Amazon.’ In both cases, you are searching for brands. This is where a branding exercise becomes critical to your business.
“Search queries in the SERPs for your brand name are vital touch-points for both people and machines and are therefore essential to your business. You should track, evaluate, and improve them consistently.”
Jason Barnard, Founder & CEO at Kalicube
Your brand building exercises will help search engines understand your brand credibility, which improves your rankings. Building a brand will also ensure that you get mentions and links across the web naturally. People or other business want to associate with others who are famous. Get set to ignite your branding. Brand SERP is the new visiting card today.
If you are a brick and mortar business, localised to an area or city, SEO can be a completely different ballgame and you can reap fantastic benefits from it. Two off-page practices like Google My Business and citations can boost your popularity manifold.
4 in 5 searchers and over 40% of Google searches are for local information. If you can get Google My Business optimised listing on maps, it will help tremendously. If the locality is highly competitive, you or your competition will certainly show up on local maps.
Citations are equally important, especially on the map pack. Also, the NAP (Name, address, Phone Number) should be accurate and working. Any deviation from accuracy here is seen as incoherency, and the searcher may not bother finding you ever again. So, leveraging local search is a double-edged sword, tread carefully.
Once everything is in place, you need to aim for the 3-pack SEO. There is no guarantee you will get there. But, good positive reviews (more numbers), complete and accurate listing can get there with time. We discover reviews later in this piece. This can be a great experience for beginners in SEO.
Forums are a great way to converse with people and build trust. Over the years, we have looked down on forums because marketers used them to build links and nothing else. However, look at the bright side, building links apart, you can showcase your expertise on the more popular forums like Quora or Redditt. In fact, many marketers have found major customers on forums by answering their questions patiently.
Forums are like cutting through the marketing mayhem and finding the right customer. Remember, the mindset of building links and the mindset of establishing expertise are completely different and until you are not breaking any guidelines, leverage forums. This is the best SEO tool for beginners.
Events, especially online events, have become a part and parcel of marketing, thanks to the pandemic. Conducting events and webinars can be an exceptional idea to brand your website. Create a buzz around these events and they will contribute handsomely to your off-page SEO practices.
When organised well with a lot of fanfare, events can help get much needed organic links and social media mentions, which will go a long way in branding. Though a little money and logistics are involved, events can get you a lot of word-of-mouth and branding.
Follow up your event or webinar with a press release and you will get lots of marketing traction.
Guest posting is writing a blog on someone else’s website. The most valuable tool in off-site SEO, guest posting, done with the right intent and strategy can get you easy customers. Though many marketers see guest posting as a link-building tool, that should not be the only aim to pursue.
We should guest post intending to put your expertise in front of a distinct set of audience, of course, related audience. If the content is good and informative, people will only flock to your website for more..
Podcasting is growing like crazy these days, and it can be a wonderful brand building tool. Over 75 million Americans listen to podcasts every month. And, if you are not in on podcasting, you are missing out a vast audience.
Podcasting is a great way to reach new audiences and talk to them convincingly. You may wonder if it is an off-page SEO tool. Yes it is, because Apple’s podcasts are a search engine and people find you by keywords in the title. Of course, Google podcasts too, have the same feature. Beginners in SEO should take on podcasting for better results.
Reviews comprise in Online Reputation Management [ORM]. Almost all online buyers look for reviews before buying and about 93% of online purchases are affected by this.
“Perhaps the most underrated benefit of collecting reviews is that, when implemented properly, reviews can help Google better understand your site. The common understanding is that Google uses them to derive brand signals, which can boost your site’s domain authority and eventually your position in search.”
So, as an off-page SEO factor, positive reviews are very important for conversions. ‘Trust’ is the basic ingredient of all buying decisions, online or offline. Collecting positive reviews is critical to building a great brand, besides good business. And, if you are doing local SEO, reviews take the front seat for the 3-pack SEO.
SEO for beginners…
SEO is a game, played best with honesty. It is easier and cheaper to market online than offline. So, make the most of the game and grow your business sustainably. This SEO for beginners article is just the tip of the iceberg and you will understand better as you learn more and practice.
Today’s internet population suffers from data deluge and is social-media driven. This means, as a marketer, you need to run omnichannel marketing campaigns to ensure that every customer touch-point communicates a branded and holistic message in your marketing strategy. This includes digital marketing as well as traditional integrated marketing campaign touch-points.
Marketers today have more choice than ever before to advertise. The challenge in creating an omnichannel marketing campaign is the alignment of traditional with online.
Traditional marketing channels like direct marketing, print advertising, radio and television have a unique method of advertising and you know what is the most effective method. Besides this, web advertising, social media marketing and mobile marketing cater to a distinct set of customers and have an entirely unique set of success strategies. In this backdrop, a unified omnichannel marketing strategy can be a challenge to create and execute.
Because of the above challenge, there is no fool-proof or surefire formula to create an integrated marketing campaign that is successful. However, the following steps will help create one that can maximise success through viewership and interesting CTAs.
Key 1: Isolate and understand your target audience
According to @StratCommun‘s Linda Pophal – “It’s important to clearly identify [who your target audience is by] both demographic and psychographic (attitudes, interests and behaviors), to help develop key messages and to identify the best communication channels to reach them.”
Creating audience profiles can be a great beginning to your omnichannel marketing campaign. Bring on the old audience profiles, if you have created them for other integrated marketing campaigns in the past. Edit them and make them relevant to the present time.
Some questions you should ask yourself are:
Who are your target audience / customers?
What are they motivated by?
How do they like being communicated to?
Which magazines or newspapers do they read?
Which websites do they visit regularly?
If they are on social media, what are they talking about?
Key 2: Choose your channels for the omnichannel marketing campaign
Traditional or digital, choose your channels for your branded communication. Once you lock your data using Step 1, create a list of channels, both traditional and digital. Select relevant and useful channels where you think your audience fits in. Do not increase your marketing costs by including channels that may not work for you. You can use experience from past campaigns to choose.
Some questions that need answering here are:
What are the channels strengths and weaknesses?
Which ones will help me reach my objectives?
What percentage of my target audience is on each one?
Concentrate on effective channels and prune the list mercilessly.
Don’t be everywhere, all the time, ‘spray and pray’ does not work anymore.
Keep your brand’s visual identity consistent across all traditional / digital channels and communication. Visual identity is how you want your viewers to perceive your brand. It is more than your logo; it is about the look and feel, common fonts and colours, graphics and photographs, and the totality of its impact. This will ensure that the viewer will make a visual connection across channels and with such branding, you will create a successful omnichannel marketing campaign. Research shows it takes over 5 impressions for a viewer to recognise a brand or its specific message.
Key 4: Create interesting content that can be adapted to all chosen channels
For communication across channels to be consistent, it is very important to create simple yet compelling content that can be adapted to all of them with ease. Do not use confusing phrases or Shakespearean language to impress. It is more important to get the message across than to learn your English. All communication – offers or messages must be clear and appeal to the viewer to take action while being consistent across internet, mobile phones and in-store.
All messaging should be good to use across all channels whether it is a blog post, email marketing content, a video or a case study. And, we should use the messaging across all channels as and where suitable by cutting across it without changing the visual impact.
All messaging created for your omnichannel marketing campaign should have proper CTA’s driving traffic and culminate in action, whether it is a sale, or a subscription or to build lists.
Integrated marketing campaigns need specific communication strategies to grow and succeed. Use client reviews, client’s social media handles and whatever resources you have to create the right impact. This will help your message go viral and improve reach. The more the reach, the more the conversions.
Key 5: Synchronise your omnichannel marketing campaign
If you are outsourcing your integrated marketing campaign, even bits and pieces of it, make sure that all teams involved are in sync with others. This is very crucial to success. Have regular team meetings, even daily, if required to ensure that the right messaging goes out on the right schedule at the right time. All teams should understand the campaign well along with its objectives, look and feel and messaging tactics. We should share all collaterals used across teams to drive home the message of success. Simply put, all of them should agree.
Coordination will go a long way in ensuring that your omnichannel marketing campaign is on course to success.
Key 6: Analyse the analytics of your omnichannel marketing campaign
This is the most critical aspect of your omnichannel marketing campaign. It is important to man the analytics and use human analysis to understand the direction in which your campaign is headed. The attribution methods used can help understand your success and to tuck away as an experience for campaigns to come.
We understand that analytics from traditional marketing are difficult to come by, track, or their correctness is questionable. Take them with a pinch of salt, but do not write them off. They will important from a comparison perspective. But your digital marketing practices can get you perfect analytics of your omnichannel marketing campaign.
These analytics will also help you keep tabs on spending and give you insights from an ROI standpoint.
Omnichannel is one of the new digital marketing trends that will drive a consistent brand experience to grow your business with ease and make is sustainable.
Use these time-tested keys to drive successful omnichannel marketing campaigns and get futuristic.
Creating an impactful blog is not a technology thing. Setting up a blog involves getting a domain, installing WordPress, plugins and choosing the design, that are a technical thingy, and are not talking about these.
Coming next are the word count, keyword usage, internal linking, inserting images, small paragraphs and Yada, Yada. We are not talking about these either.
Let us talk about how to create an impactful blog using content and techniques that will give your readers a different perspective. We will do this in two simple steps.
Analysing your readers and what to appeal to
Writing tips to create an impactful blog
Analysing your readers
An impactful blog should make a difference in your readers’ lives. Before you write, it is important to have a purpose for the blog post. For this post, the purpose is to ‘help’ readers improve their writing while creating an impactful blog.
If your aim is in line with ours, analyse some simple yet powerful factors that can help you create an impactful blog.
Get into the minds of people who read your blog or those who want to read it. Create a reader persona in as much detail as possible, because, it will be easier to understand the blog or content you need to create (style, topics, etc.).
This exercise will also help you understand how to attract more readers to your blog besides engaging techniques and/or monetising your impactful blog.
Your understanding of the reader will also define how you can make an impact by using subscription options, when or how often should you write a blog or which social media platforms to target. The primary target of understanding your readers or creating a reader persona is to add real value to your readers.
Do not grope around in the dark thinking that just writing well or presenting well, will make yours an impactful blog.
Their websites rank well on #Google but their conversion rates are low.
What does your blog post offer?
I want to give my customers more leverage on their SEO practices to understand how to make a visitor buy.
I am talking about search intent optimization that can be a subset of their SEO practices to integrate better keywords.
This will help increase conversion rates.
How the reader will change by reading your impactful blog?
Understanding the concept of search intent is essential to upgrade the reader’s knowledge on SEO.
The readers will look at the search intent of the buyers and analyse the buyer’s journey.
They will understand how, where and which pages to optimise for better conversions.
Readers will change in a manner that they will look at SEO with a finer eye and achieve what they set out to achieve.
Advantages of having an impactful blog
When a reader changes by reading your blog, chances are that they will subscribe and return to it.
Blogs that add real value to readers and changes them build confidence and trust.
Changed readers will always share the blog on their networks.
This is not rocket science, just that we get engrossed in the Yada-Yada and forget a lot about this art.
So, what is the change you want to bring in your readers? Obviously a positive one, because focussing on this aspect will make yours an impactful blog and helps your content marketing efforts.
9 Writing tips to create an impactful blog
1. Be original and yourself
Do not express the same ideas as your peers or competition does. Always, be original and interesting. Your blog is unique because of ‘you’ and ‘you’ are the one trying to build an impactful blog. You can add more personality by being yourself and telling your own story, like this blog does, creates the ‘impact.’
2. Be honest and transparent
Express your ideas honestly. Do not pacify your readers with all ‘positive’ stuff. Call a ‘spade’ and ‘spade’. Transparency differs from honesty. Spelling out the truth is essential to invite ideas, however good or bad they might be. Being transparent creates engagement, and that is essential for an impactful blog.
3. Spend quality time
Ideate and let it sit to pick in your mind before you write. Good blogs take time to create. It is quality over quantity and not vice versa, as most of us would like to believe.
4. Creativityis critical to an impactful blog
There is no limit to creativity. Express yourself on audio/ video or text, it doesn’t matter. However, if you are text blogging like me, here, you need to create a story that will run for a few weeks. It will help you express better, help readers to understand better and give you best results. In SEO terms, it is also called a ‘cornerstone’; content to which you link your explanations. What we ignored at the very beginning of this post come into importance here in terms of internal linking.
5. Find your voice and make it ‘we’
Finding your blogging voice will come with time, because, that is the ‘I’ you will find to express yourself in your own way. Do not write like someone else, it will fail. Use words like ‘we’ and ‘ours’ instead of ‘you’ and ‘yours’, because it will make a better impact.
6. Ignore negativity
The internet is a huge place and not all readers are positive. Don’t make it sound like an obituary! Irrespective of the best content you put up, you will get some negative comments or even stupid ones. We call them seagulls that fly in, crap and fly away. Bet is to ignore them because hitting below the belt is not your style.
No, that would be gross, ‘Keep It Simple Stupid‘. Do not put too many widgets and ads across the post. This takes away the reader’s focus from the content of your blog. Minimalist writing and minimalist branding are the mantra going into the future.
8. Live it up
Creating an impactful blog is not about your profession. It can be about one of your passions, hobbies or whatever you want to tell the world about. To keep it simple, create an impact and live it up.
9. AI Content
AI generated content doesn’t work, at least not for us. Because mortals like you and me can see the difference and so do search engines. If you creating AI content and putting in 2/3 blog posts a day… it is not a good idea, you know how it will turn out.
Coming to think of it, when you create an impactful blog, it also affects you positively and enhances growth. With engagement, comments and advice coming your way, your impactful blog will take you only one way… North… And to understand which way content marketing is headed and why impactful blogs are important, read our article on Content marketing in 2022.
I will be glad to understand your thoughts on how this reading this blog changed you.
Search intent optimization may be an unfamiliar word. Its relationship with search results and SERPs is complicated, yet effective. If you read and understand this, I promise you will understand the intricacies and relationship between all the parameters on a SEO checklist.
What is search intent?
Search intent is the intent behind a visitor’s search for specific terms and what he/she expects to find using them. Google looks at these terms and tries to understand where the searcher stands in the marketing conversion funnel before displaying results in line with the analysed search intent and Google’s data and interpretation are confounding. Because, user level or IP level data collection empowers its algorithms to interpret user behaviour and keyword intent.
Believe me, search intent or user intent is the only driver that drives Google’s search algorithm completely. All search parameters and SEO checklists evolve from here. For some, it may sound valuable but intangible, but Google has made it a science and built the entire search empire around ‘search intent.’ It is the most important factor of your SEO process.
This is akin to a conversation you may have with a friend, family member, peer, or anyone. When you converse with any of them, your brain is trying to figure “why the person said, what he said and why he said?” There is a saying or a conversation intent here, and you will reply to the intent accordingly and not so much for the words. And, Google has always tried to integrate the same concept in its search algorithms, but on a much larger scale.
Growth of search intent and challenges
Search intent or audience intent is dynamic, and this is an enormous challenge. Search intent is not a new concept. Google has always built its algorithms around this. Google’s mission is very simple and it has come a long way and grown complex over time owing to the following reasons.
Search engine algorithm updates in relation to better results and better intent understanding, that are frequent – Search has undergone a sea of changes in the last 15 years and even the interface has changed. The UX and GUI changes also impact user behaviour and thus we always recommend minimalist branding. For example, as little as 5 years ago, you had to access a browser to book flight tickets, today, Google facilitates it within its search results. Google has introduced HummingBird and RankBrain algorithms to understand search intent. No one knows how they work, but, these algorithms analyse search intent by considering what the user has searched for before (in that domain), how the search query is phrased, and the device that the user is using (in addition to many other factors). This facilitates better and specific results that match the search intent, because the user is collating and understanding the way to search, learning unconsciously. So, user behaviour is also changing.
Ever changing web technologies – Web technologies have evolved to become more interactive, with new platforms being introduced almost every day. Backend technology has changed drastically. Users want instant gratification and are ever-connected. Search behaviour has changed and users expect to see something new all the time. Because of these, search intent has also changed with users learning 24X7.
Changes in devices – New smart phones, voice devices, etc. – Introduction of Google’s mobile-first indexing on July 1, 2019 is a sign that your webpage should be mobile-friendly to enhance smartphone search experience. This includes quick loading of webpages, fast core value delivery, and user-friendliness. Users have different expectations from mobile search, so, irrespective of devices used, UX comes first. To facilitate this, Google introduced mobile-first Core Web Vitals on May 28, 2021.
What is search intent optimization and why is it critical?
Search engines use rich snippet results to understand a user query and display answer boxes or knowledge panels, enhanced by algorithmic updates like Google RankBrain and Google Hummingbird. These algorithms empower search engines to understand the intent behind a search and to display relevant results. Search intent optimization, thus takes the front seat in boosting your SERPs. Search intent also interpreted as user intent, keyword intent, audience intent or query intent by different marketers.
Optimising your web page content and other parameters in line with keyword intent is called search intent optimization and is a critical key to attract and/or convert visitors. Here are a few FAQs.
The practice of search engine optimization may put you on top of Google for certain keywords or phrases purely for information and not for the marketing funnel. Search intent optimisation will put you on top of SERPs for an intent depending on how your webpage address a user query or intent. The difference is ‘relevance’ of your webpage. This means the visitor is a part of the marketing funnel and thus relevant and convertible. The longer the search intent (aka long tail), the better is the relevance.
If you focus on search intent optimization, would Google rank you better on search results? – Yes, it will rank it higher on relevant searches. This translates to more visitors.
If you understand the search intent of your visitors, would it help you create effective content that can turn visitors into leads? – Yes, getting visitors is not the end all, converting them to leads and moving them further into the market funnel is.
Will it help you fine-tune your marketing efforts to catch visitors at the right stage of conversion? – Yes, it will because the objective is to push the visitor further into the funnel and the search intent is relevant.
If yes, will you acquire more customers and a greater customer life-time value? – Yes, it will. Relevant visitors will convert at a higher rate and will come back for support, more information or to buy more, depending on your domain.
Will it help your SEO, if you refine your keywords to enhance conversion rates by tapping into its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines? – Yes, the guidelines are for us to understand how the search engines interpret and analyse user intent.
And will it help you rank higher on SERPs? – Yes, you rank higher for relevant searches and that means you will get relevant traffic, enhancing chances of conversion.
Meeting the audience’s expectation or intent at every stage of the marketing funnel is important, and catering to them is critical. And, here comes search intent optimization to the rescue.
A great example her would be, imagine a visitor reaches your website through an external link built years ago using a link building strategy, will he satisfy his intent of landing here?
How search intent optimization effects search engine optimization?
If you cater to Google search’s intent, you will inarguably be on top, because “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Remember, the competition in the ‘intent’ space is limited, and ranking is easier. SEO in 2022 is going to see this trend growing into the future.
Google will take care of making the information “universally accessible and useful” only when you use search intent optimization to make the information on the accessed page most “useful” or “helpful”. The upcoming Google’s helpful content update expected to hit search in August 2022, will throw a lot of light on this.
The more useful it is, the more accessible will be your webpage. This is Google’s old principle – ‘Create content for the visitor (a.k.a query intent) and we will take care of the rest.’ The algorithm is built that way historically, so put in your 2 cents.
Are you catering to Google by interpreting the search intent and fine-tuning your page content to cater to it?
This is very important to Google, as it strives to provide the most useful and relevant answers. Google’s success and the dinner on its plate depends on search intent. Because, if they do not answer satisfactorily a query, searchers will prefer using a different search engine. Google wouldn’t want that and it has primed itself to give out the best, no wonder it has over 85% of search market share.
Inference: If you cater to Google’s long-term objectives, and they are the right ones, you will rank well. Align your website to search intent along with your search engine optimization efforts, and you will be blessed with rankings.
At this point, I would say “Search intent is king, Content is the kingdom.’
Measuring search intent for a single keyword is easy, however, it is a challenge when you need to measure for many keywords. Let us look at how we need to prune user intent from a SERP. Let us look for ‘writing assistant’ on Google search.
This is a short form search and you will get information on what the word means in the featured snippets and the products follow later.
Now, let us change the search term to ‘writing assistant software.’ You will see a fresh set of results. The featured snippets show a list of software and a click will lead to a fairly populated comparison page.
When I change the search term to ‘buy writing assistant software,’ you see that the search results are entirely different. Along with deep comparison results, The SERP will show results that will help you make a buying decision.
In all the above examples, we have been searching for a ‘writing assistant’ however, the intent of search was different.
Now, go back to the search box and click at the end of the search term. You will see Google predictions on the left and ‘people also ask’ to the right. So, you have some options here wherein you can change your search term and clicking on any will change the intent again. You can also choose an option from ‘people also ask’ – this is Google at its best, trying to ask the searcher to understand the search intent better.
You can see that all predictions are of the same length or longer. This is because long-tail search words provide more search intent than the short-tail ones, because they give out more information. This is a key factor to analyse before you begin with search intent optimization.
The monthly search volume for long-tail keywords is less and increases as the keywords or phrases get shorter. This again showcases user intent. Though the search volume is short, the search intent is relevant and chances of conversion increase. So, the search volume numbers may be indicative, but choosing intent over it important.
We have tried to measure user intent for a single keyword, however taking this process forward and measuring for 1000s of keywords is a challenge.
How to measure search intent for multiple keywords?
Measuring user intent for 1000s of keywords is a monumental challenge. However, there are some tools I found across the marketplace while looking for a solution.
The simplest way to do this is to use a REGEXMATCH formula within your keyword sheet. If you use this, you need to edit your domain parameters in the sheet, which explained beautifully on the link.
If you already use tools like SearchMetrics, SemRush or Ahrefs, there are ways to analyse your keywords and download the sheets for further filtering. Only, they do not do it for you and it is still quite hard work. I wish they used a little automation there and made it a little user friendly. I, for one, would go for the REGEXMATCH formula as above.
How to map user intent to buyer journey?
A buyer journey is individualistic and complicated to assess from a seller’s point of view. No amount of AI or EQ can do justice to this component of digital marketing. It is a set of steps that a buyer takes from the need conception to buying. These could 10 steps or 100’s of them and most of them can be mapped to organic search.
At most, on a generic level, you can map the search queries to their user intent and you could probably come up with a search engine optimization strategy w.r.t content.
Since it is difficult to assess or calculate with a scientific basis, we can generalise the steps:
Need or problem recognition
Research on problem and solutions
Comparison of products/services
We can map these steps to the type of search intents that Google provides and group the search queries into each of the above steps. This method is proved to be quite successful. Keep the following in mind,
Serendipity: SEO, by itself, cannot create demand for a product or a service. However, by ranking for multiple keywords, SEO can help a buyer realise a problem, which means the searcher comes across your webpage while searching for something else.
Other searches: A user might not resort to Google while searching all the time. Did you know that the biggest competition to google in the search industry is Amazon? So, depending on the query intent, a searcher could choose his own site owing to his beliefs and trust. In these cases, mapping search intent becomes hypothetical.
Interpreting buyer journeys: It has been proved that the top 3 or 4 buyer journeys cater to 90% of a business. Identifying and analysing these can set the tone for search intent optimization. Get the data together and do a GAP analysis to understand where your webpage may lack in addressing the search intent.
Google’s search intent categories
Going by the marketing funnel, irrespective of overlaps, almost all searches fall into 4 search intent categories:
Basic level information search – Now that the searcher wants to buy a EV, someone trying to figure out “What is the best EV to buy?” – This is categorised as ‘Know’ or “Know Simple” on Google’s quality rater guidelines.
Relevance of informational intent to your business
Most searches on Google have informational intent and they are important. One, to create visibility for your business all around to grow on search. Two, providing answers to visitor queries will build expertise and trust for your business. When the user intent changes, chances are that he/she will convert into a customer.
Optimising for informational intent
We should provide information in a good format and in a correct manner. For this, you need to put the search queries under a microscope and use them and variants within the information you provide.
How-TOs, FAQs and blogs are the tools to provide informational content to consumers. These target the high-funnel customers [TOF]. Your content on these query results should be spot on.
Well formatted content using search intent optimization will get into Google’s rich snippets (easier said than done). Take examples from your competition and build authority and trust.
Searcher wants to buy a car and is looking for information – “Should I buy a EV vehicle or a diesel powered one.” – This is categorised as ‘Website Queries’ on Google’s quality rater guidelines.
Relevance of navigational intent to your business
Navigational keywords should guide a searcher to a product or a service from the home or the landing page. More often than not, you will get branded queries in this category. However, more open searches will lead the unbranded ones too.
Optimizing for navigational intent?
First up, your website should be well-structured and labeled clearly with headers, descriptions, titles, and tags. It is wise to have a product page for each of the products you sell that has every bit of information the searcher may look for. A prime example is Amazon. No wonder they are at the top.
Each of those pages has to be search intent optimised for the product name and the brand with descriptive URLs. It would be clever to have a section on what problems the product or service solves.
The EV list is now ready, and the searcher is looking for more information to make a purchase decision – “GMC Hummer EV — 47 MPGe Vs. Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo — 76 MPGe?” – This is categorised as ‘Do Queries’ on Google’s quality rater guidelines.
Relevance of commercial intent to your business
Showing off your offers and discounts is a great way to tell your audience why they should buy from you. This information helps them make converting decision. The audience needs to find this information quickly because they are at the end of the funnel [EOF]. It is not only about using commercial keywords but also about keeping connected with the customer. Again, as an example, check an Amazon product page.
Optimizing for commercial intent?
What is the searcher with commercial intent looking for on your website? Your commercial keywords should answer this question. If the searcher is coming from other parts of your website (blog post, service pages etc.) to a product page, the keywords should address the intent of the searcher. They might want to compare products or services. No wonder then, Google also provides aggregator pages in its search results pertaining to commercial intent.
Now, search intent optimize the pages with good descriptive headers, titles, meta descriptions and URLs. Do not forget to help them with comparisons, more information and purchase pages.
The searcher has made a buying decision and looking for last details, could be “buy GMC Hummer EV — 47 MPGe” or “buy Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo — 76 MPGe?” Or “vehicle financing options”. – This is categorised as ‘Visit in Person’ on Google’s quality rater guidelines.
Relevance of transactional intent to your business
Transactional keywords are the rainmakers for your business. All this while you have been promoting and marketing, time to make a sale. These are the keywords that searchers will use to find you when they are ready to buy. So, it is time to figure out those keywords and optimise your product landing pages with an easy purchase process.
Optimizing for transactional intent?
First, search intent optimize your pages with transactional keywords. They should have good meta descriptions, headers, titles and URLs. Do not forget to help them with comparisons, more information and purchase pages. Ensure they have good and clear CTAs, clear design and conversion optimized text. Use structured data to ensure Google understands the contents of the page clearly.
What if you had a dynamic keyword strategy to address these queries (search intent) as a dealer of GMC or Porsche? You want to be there, don’t you, making that sale in your backyard? That, dear marketer, is the power of search intent.
What if Google sends you this information?
It does, as deep analytics, but by the time you have seen it, the searcher has already brought the car. Sadly, for you as a seller, it is important. But, as a buyer, it will swarm me, thanks to Google, I am not!
Because, as the searcher, I still live because of “not provided.”This means Google will not share the data with you. Oops, how sad! Don’t worry about marketing gurus, you can’t fix this!
If Google provided that information, it will be the end of the search for me… Google has to live and me too!
Sadly, no business I know, hires a real-time SEO guy to cater to real time search intent! Do you? And, do you have a real time analytics tool to find this? The search for convertible leads never ends!
Great marketers are not the ones who follow time-tables and execution. Great marketers are those who understand customer psychology and kindle their emotions, directly or indirectly. They are great communicators and understand psychology marketing principles like the back of their hand.
As a great marketer, the skill to craft perspective-changing content for better conversion rates and results is highly critical. Yes, getting there is challenging, and many of us have miles to go. But, there is, of course, a way to do it easily. Using these 8 psychology marketing principles can help you create compelling copy and messaging to enhance visitor engagement and better convert rates.
The 8 psychology principles
Marketing is not a numbers game, it is a compulsive influencing, engaging, researching and converting game. The better you understand your customer’s emotions, their direction of thought and their emotion-driven actions, the better you can tell your story. Remember, emotional appeal and engagement are the greatest keywords for any marketer, whether it is B2C or B2B. And your customer is not a bot, but a bot-hater.
You do not have to be a psychologist to understand or execute your strategy based on these principles. These 8 psychology marketing principles can help you get deep into the game with a significant advantage. Each of these principles can stand on its own, however, use all of them cohesively in line with your domain and activity as a part of your comprehensive marketing strategy for best results.
The Framing principle
Visitors come to your website looking for information, product, service or to buy something, which means they come with a pre-conceived notion. Understanding these notions is crucial to conversions because that will define how you place or present your product or service.
Positioning your product or service in line with those pre-conceived notions can make the visitor more receptive to the messages and the chances of conversion improve. Understood, you cannot cater to all notions, even artificial intelligence fails in this aspect. You can probably cater to X% of visitors who may have a similar notion or intent. But you do not need to lose out on the rest. The presentation of the product or service can have pre-defined options, used as a menu on the web page.
This is called ‘framing’ or ‘priming’ the visitor. There are 2 crucial parameters to consider. One is the online atmospherics or the design and presentation of your webpage that influences visitors positively. The second is the perspective-changing content. For example, would you say ‘2% of users do not recommend’ or ’98% of users recommend’? Compelling content is always positive. Look deeper into visitor-intent to craft your design and message on the pre-defined presentation options, if you are using them.
We always prime a visitor with specifics, which could be price, problem or quality. According to a study, when a visitor comes in with a specific, it is valuable to him/her, if you add to it. Catering to such a specific and expanding on it can help convert better.
The challenge here is, which frame to use with visitors? For those who are aware of the product, you can frame it why your product is the best. Frame it as a solution to the problem if a visitor comes with one. For those who come with a price point, frame it as what better quality or features you offer and why is the best value for money. Framing can have pre-defined options, as mentioned earlier. The more options you use as visitors choices, the better will be the conversion rate.
The Verbatim principle
The verbatim principle is best explained as well constructed messaging or a blog post. In a good blog post or article, the header should serve as the general summary, the section headers should be clear and explain the benefits. If you are reading this, check the presentation of this blog post.
When messaging follows this psychology marketing verbatim principle, visitors will most likely remember the gist and not the exact words as written or said. This is human behaviour, and they already overloaded us with information.
Messaging with catchy phrasing may make you proud as a peacock, but will it help the reader remember more? And today, most readers skim the article before allocating time to reading it. In short, they are looking for informational value. Short and effective headings will serve the purpose of providing such value, catchy, or not.
The Reciprocity principle
Deep inside, all of us prefer to return favours. More so in some cultures, but the temptation to do so is quite common in all of us. Not returning a favour creates a discomfort for many as though they are in your debt.
Today, online communities, shopping options, and a plethora of services have reduced traditional interaction between people. So, the best way ahead is to humanize your brand. Use an attractive character or a mascot to gel with your current branding and start giving out ‘stuff’.
The ‘stuff’ need not be physical goods or services which incur costs to you. The best ‘stuff’ you can give away is the intangible value using your top-notch content. For example, this article is to be read by fellow marketers, and these psychology marketing principles can be very helpful in the B2B or the B2C space. Remember, B2B, B2C or B2X, the decision maker on the other end is a human being, not a bot.
However, the value we offer from this article is in the eyes of the beholder. So, the effectiveness of list building also depends on the value you offer through presenting your content. People who read this content should think it valuable before giving their email away. Increasing the value of your ‘stuff’ will improve the value of your psychology marketing and the chances of reciprocity.
Another point that needs mention here is the CTAs. Do not stuff your ‘stuff’ with CTAs. Keep them at the end of the blog or page. In fact, we feel people will contact you without a CTA, if your ‘stuff’ is of real value. And those who do that are your customers for life, nurtured properly.
The Clustering principle
Clustering is keeping all similar information in one place to remember it and improve recall. This is an effective means of information storage, and that is how a human brain stores it. A human brain searches ’like instances’ when it is trying to recall something.
Did you know that a human brain is capable of much more than that is used in daily life? Try stretching it and it will stretch further. Don’t worry, it will not snap into madness, though it could snap into a genius or find its own ‘halo’.
For example, you wouldn’t put all your wrenches or screws on separate shelves or containers. You store all of them together and then look for the specific size when needed. So, you are clustering similar products together. A human brain clusters similar information together.
A free recall study used semantic clustering to understand the recall working of a human brain. They gave a group of participants 15 random assorted words to study and remember, asked to recall them after a specific period. Later, they were given another set of 15 words, grouped into topics. Recall was better in the second set.
So, when we create categories on our blog or list product features, they should be in the same section (like information) for better recall by visitors. The reason bulleted-lists are the most preferred way to present information. And, believe us, they work!
The FOMO principle
Human beings want to be a part of rewarding experiences. Once we get to know of one, it plagues us with subconscious anxiety until we join in and reward ourselves. It could be a free lunch, a wonderful product endorsed by peers, or a good play that your friends have been to. This is also called Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) effect.
This works best in psychology marketing. As we already know, word of mouth is still the best marketing tool that works wonders. So, if someone buys a product or service and puts up a great review, the entire tribe will look at it with great interest and delve into what they would ‘gain’ by buying the product. The feeling is more like “why shouldn’t I buy this?” I am sure all of us have gone through this many a time.
Remember, we are all tribal and value other’s opinions, especially of those who are close to us, friends or family. We trust peer insights and truly believe that they would recommend nothing useless. Useful to self or not, we convince ourselves to buy it just because a peer recommended it.
A Nielsen study inferred that about 83% of consumers trust family and friend’s recommendations.
Putting this psychology marketing principle to use, using reviews, social buttons and testimonials on your web pages, is a good idea. Many of us marketers use this principle without an explanation, because most websites use it. Great marketers are made of in-depth understanding.
The Decoy principle
According to a study, the decoy principle affects everyday decisions by altering our choices according to the way they are presented.
In the study, a group of people were asked to choose between 2 options for lunch. The first option was a 5-star restaurant 25 minutes away, and the second was a 3-star restaurant, 5 minutes away. The choices were not clear but tended towards 3-star because of convenience and quality.
Then, a third option was introduced, a 4-star restaurant 35 minutes away. Now, most people chose the 5-star option. Why?
The 5-star option dominated asymmetrically the 4-star option. It was closer and had better quality food. So, a third option made the 5-star attractive. It was the better option. The 3-star restaurant never made it to the list.
So, people will choose a cheaper and convenient option unless they get better value from another option, real or perceived. Therefore, an additional purchase option that may not offer more value for the price will increase the perceived value of the other two options.
This decoy psychology marketing principle helps you to add an offer (decoy) to improve customer perception.
The Scarcity principle
How does the luxury market work?
By creating upmarket, heavily priced goods that only the rich and famous can afford. All of us want to own one of those because we feel powerful, owning something that many cannot. The innate desire to own something that is scarce or out of reach is very strong in all human beings.
So, when Violinist Joshua Bell played, the venues were full to the brim. One day, he played a free concert in a subway of Washington D.C. Did you know that he only had 7 people listening though thousands passed by? He played the same music he played on the stage, yet few listened. Why?
Because it was free and not scarce. When you do not get tickets for his shows, it becomes something unreachable or scarce. Because it was free and did not cost the listeners anything.
Applying this psychology marketing principle, the difference between saying “only X in stock” vs. “only X in stock owing to popular demand” is clear. The latter pulls more customers than the former because the former is ambiguous. Specifics are critical to your messaging, especially those that cater to the scarcity principle of psychology marketing.
The Frequency Illusion principle
Human brain is an awesome pattern-recognition engine, built that way for eons. It is prejudiced to pattern because it is programmed to learn continuously. We also known this frequency illusion psychology marketing principle as the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.
For example, you want to buy a yellow sedan and researching for the best buy. During these times, you observe too many yellow sedans passing you by, and you look constantly at them to assess vis-s-vis your research information. This may seem to be mysterious, but your awareness is the culprit.
So, when you are highly aware of something, you see the same product or object popping up all around you. We also known the reason as confirmation bias and selective attention.
Applying this psychology marketing principle, we see that the use of pixels creates the same phenomenon online. When a visitor comes to your website and notices your brand, he or she will see your ads (if you are advertising) across the web. The effect it creates is an illusion that you are a big and an influential brand, which you may not be. The frequency illusion principle also affects the visitor’s perception.
It is important to understand the minimalist branding principles here. Your branding should be consistent across your website and your ads for this principle to be more effective and fetch better results.
Using psychology marketing to your advantage
All human beings are wired the same way, apart from the fact how a man’s brain interprets information and how a woman’s brain does. However, leaving the gender alone, they work similarly to interpret sales messages. This gives you a specific advantage in creating a marketing strategy. The 8 psychology marketing principles listed above are for generic use in marketing ethically and not meant of unethical practices in any manner.
They will certainly add an edge to your marketing strategy, going ahead. When leveraged together with proper research and insights, it can help your brand stand apart from the competition.
Seasoned marketers who believe messaging is the key to conversions widely used the psychology marketing principles. No wonder then, they do not delve too much into figures and percentages. They focus on messaging and other related marketing ‘stuff’ and make these principles an inherent part of their marketing.
Brands like Nike or Benetton result from using psychology marketing strategies, they are not market leaders by chance, but by hard work and purpose.
In short, great marketers always stand in the visitor’s shoes. The more they do that, the better they will get and better will be the results.