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Content is King in the Year of the Panda
Unique Content and Viral Marketing will be factors in 2012 to increase Google Ranking
As we enter 2012 I’ve been receiving some email from companies asking what some of the marketing trends will be for the coming year. There are many trains of thought about these trends from many experts and it is easy to see how it can be overwhelming. It is impossible to adopt every strategy, and not every strategy is right for every vertical. So how does a company decide what’s right for them? I always consider one factor before anything else – what’s playing at the movies. I like movies, and I consider what the first thing is that I do when I want to know what’s playing at my local theater – I use Google. It’s the first thing that almost everyone does when considering a product or service. It does not matter if an individual is looking to see a movie, find a restaurant, or purchase a PLC. The first step is almost always the same – the process starts with the click of a mouse.
Consider the 2012 Customer’s Buying Process
The potential customer for 2012 will be an internet savvy individual and according to Marketing Sherpa 93% of these customers will start their buying process online. Marketing Sherpa also indicates that over 80% of customers will initiate first contact with a vendor for the product or service that they are looking for. These are customers who are putting your website next to your competitors and are comparing apples to apples before they even consider contacting a vendor. Thanks to the internet they have an abundance of information right at their fingertips. They can not only compare product or service information, but they can also look at what others are saying about the companies that they are considering through their Social Media networks. The content on your website has to be relevant and provide value to potential customers in a manner that can not only be quickly and easily digested, but interesting enough to encourage users to distribute it through their Social Media networks. These factors will all greatly affect not only where your company website appears in an online search, but also the initial opinion that customers will form about your company.
Enter Google Panda
Considering the way that customers are searching for products and
services, we then have to consider the medium that they are using to
conduct that search. That means that marketers in 2012 need to
understand that Google has shifted the way that it evaluates websites
by introducing Google Panda. The Google Panda Algorithm was
released in February 2011 with the purpose of providing searchers with
a return of higher-quality sites near the top of the query and
low-quality sites near the bottom.
This is a dramatic shift from past Google methodology because Panda is more concerned with better quality websites and what actual users think about websites as opposed to traditional SEO practices. This puts the power in the hands of the people who visit your website as Panda is going to examine factors like bounce rates, time on site and people who leave the website without any real interaction. Social Media recommendations such as +1’s or “likes” will no doubt play a part in a website’s overall ranking as these results will illustrate that the website contains high quality material. This will indicate to Google that users find a particular website or page of high value and it will naturally rise in ranking for organic search results. Panda does not eliminate the need for traditional SEO practices, but what it does do is reward websites who have good social media practices and generate unique content with a higher ranking than those who don’t.
Spreading the Word Through Viral Marketing
What does the above message mean when putting together marketing plans for 2012? It means that content is king and good content and viral marketing practices are more important than ever. Some will say that content was always important, and that marketers always produced unique content. We did, but the tools that we use to get that content to our target audience have changed. Content not only needs to be unique, but it also needs to be engaging to the reader. It needs to make users want to distribute it through their own networks to colleagues, or post their comments and opinions. Take any issue of Automatedbuildings.com for example. Articles written by industry experts can get discussed on the Automatedbuildings.com’s LinkedIn forum. Readers of the magazine can become part of the experience and become engaged through discussions on the forum. They can pass along an article that they liked to their network, or they can pass along an article that they did not like to their network all in a matter of minutes. The ability to pass along information at a rapid rate rests with every individual with a smartphone or a computer. This presents some challenges, and some opportunities for companies to get creative and build their brand in 2012. Users who find content interesting will become engaged and spread your message as they attempt to build their own personal brand and network on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
If we look at a company that creates the white paper and publishes it
online with the applicable Social Media buttons on the page (Twitter,
Facebook, LinkedIn, +1 “Like”) they can effectively engage their own
customer base in helping them market the paper through viral
marketing. These same customers can also be used to increase the
website where the white paper is housed Google Ranking by letting good
content encourage them to distribute it. Customers like the white
paper, recommend it to colleagues, and in doing so increase the value
of the content to Google Panda through user interaction. The
company that created the white paper wins in two ways. It builds
brand awareness through the viral marketing of the paper by properly
using its existing customers and partners to help market it for them,
and it takes the steps to establishing its website as a credible place
for users to access relevant content. Google Panda looks for these
trends. This in turn will raise the website’s Google ranking
according to Google Panda, and encourage new users to spend more time
on the website. With 93% of B2B purchasing decisions starting
online having more users spending more time on your website provides
better opportunities for new customer growth and that is something that
every company is striving for in 2012.
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