More content than ever before is at our fingertips, and the mass digital archive that is the internet will only keep growing.
As we look ahead to 2020, and even the coming decade, brands managers will have to revamp their search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to stand out.
Long valued in the marketing world, SEO must align with a company’s PR, design and social media efforts to help a brand rise on consumers’ screens. Let’s look at those elements.
Brands often undervalue earned media and its impact on SEO. Earned media can be one of the most credible and far-reaching types of promotion due to its organic nature, in comparison to paid media channels like ads and search engine listings. Traditionally, companies have relied heavily on owned, branded content (such as a company blog, FAQ, etc.) to drive website traffic. However, a study found that 91% of brand-owned media receives no organic traffic from Google search.
There is also an abundance of awareness around “fake news,” and Google has adjusted its search algorithm to favor “quality” links, such as online news websites, to populate in search. Therefore, brand managers should target legitimized outlets for earned media coverage.
Backlinks and basic brand mentions from earned media appearing in online news sites are invaluable to SEO. In fact, PR and SEO are becoming so inter-reliant that some SEO firms are adding a PR manager role to help generate earned media placements for clients.
The days of simply building out links and including keywords as an effective SEO strategy are long gone. Though both are still key components of SEO, website UX has become increasingly important. When ranking websites, search engines now analyze website UX to help weed out irrelevant results from users’ queries. Websites that are fast, secure and mobile-friendly rank higher in search engine algorithms.
Website UX design and SEO have a common goal, and their interaction will generate a mutually beneficial relationship toward that goal. Good UX will boost click-through rates (CTR) and other key measurements weighed by search engines when generating results. An incomplete website that’s slow and difficult to navigate will result in high bounce-back rates, which tips off search engines that the website should rank lower in future searches.
Sharing brand links on social media platforms can generate more exposure for brands, but often these links don’t contribute much to SEO, because they aren’t perceived by search engines as a ranking signal. Marketers, take warning: That’s no reason to dismiss social media as a key component of SEO strategy.
According to Hootsuite, 90% of brands are on social media to increase brand awareness. Though social media is certainly effective for awareness, a secondary goal should be driving website traffic. When social media posts end up in users’ feeds, an included website link can prompt users to visit that brand’s site. If any given user then shares the social media post, they tap into their network of other users who could also potentially visit the website, and the cycle continues, boosting SEO with every site visit.
These consistent interactions made through social media help increase search engine index for a brand. Social media specialists and SEO professionals can work together to make sure they are directing users to the right place on the brand website to reinforce this relationship.
Pete Herrnreiter is vice president of strategy and planning at The Motion Agency.