New Google AI search technology could kill traditional SEO

Google may soon expand its use of artificial intelligence (AI) to power its search results, according to a recent article from Social Media Today. This development could render traditional search engine optimization (SEO) techniques obsolete. At the same time, it will dramatically increase the importance of strategic content marketing.

The move toward behavior-based search

implications of AI powered searchTraditional SEO has been based upon optimizing your web pages for specific attributes, such as making sure that page titles, headlines and headings contain the keywords and phrases you want to rank for on Google.

The incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) into Google Search, already used in about 15% of all searches, enables it to make intelligent inferences based upon searcher behavior. It may consider factors such as:

  • How long did they spend on a web page?
  • Where did they come to it from?
  • Where did they go next?
  • How does the page they visited compare with their search history?

What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

Artificial intelligence can discern patterns within massive amounts of data and make inferences about it, without human intervention. The most amazing aspect of this technology as that AI systems can “learn,” adjusting their algorithms to deliver more accurate results.

Google has been developing its own AI technology since 2011. Since then, it has been incorporated into a variety of Google products, including speech recognition, image recognition, street view and self-driving cars. It is currently used in about 15% of Google searches.

Based on our analysis of the Social Media Today article and several other recent reports (here, here and here), it’s clear that AI will soon completely transform Google Search. The most significant development is a recent change at the head of Google’s search operations. Amit Singhal, who ran it for the 15 years, has retired. He was replaced by John Giannandrea, who oversees the company’s work in artificial intelligence. This move clearly signals Google’s deep commitment to this new technology.

What does this mean to marketers?

As the Social Media Today article points out, “SEO-friendly” is giving way to “user-friendly.” To translate that into plain English, publishing high-quality content that’s focused on the needs of your audience is more important than ever. Why? Follow this logical progression:

  1. The more compelling and targeted your content is, the more your audience will engage with it (e.g., invest more time reading it, share it, and click on links within it).
  2. Engagement is nothing more than a set of desirable behaviors – which Google is already measuring and using to rank pages in search results.
  3. As Google Search analyzes your audience’s behavior, it should reward your valuable content with better positioning in search results. Not because it’s properly tagged and “stuffed” with the right words and phrases. But because your audience considers it to be valuable, based upon their actions.

What should you do now?

  • Develop detailed personas for each of your target audiences and an accurate picture of your typical prospect’s buyer’s journey. Understand their informational needs at each step, and develop a strategic content plan that is focused on meeting their needs.
  • Consistently produce high-quality content that is focused on the audience needs you have identified. Measure their engagement with your content to determine which topics resonate with them. Then, produce more of that.
  • Build your email list, which will help you communicate directly with more prospects and build trust with them, nurturing them with the information they need at each step of their journey – before, during and after the sale.

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SEO and Content Marketing: The Dynamic Duo

SEO, content marketing and AIDownload your FREE copy of our new eGuide about leveraging the dynamic duo – SEO and Content Marketing – to ensure that the right people can find the right content at the right time.

It reveals:

  • How Google has changed, and why you need to consider more than just on-page SEO.
  • The semantic elements Google is now considering when ranking content.
  • Action steps you can use to improve your content’s performance in search results.

Learn how to fight for truth, justice and first-page search results. Download our FREE eGuide for a road map to leveraging the the Batman and Robin of digital media – search engine optimization and content marketing – to increase sales.

Motivational Monday: Outsmart Your Competition

Analyze, Learn, Grow

“Successful people never worry about what other people are doing. Instead, they analyze, learn and grow.” —Cultivate Communications

When you were in elementary school, did you ever try to look at your neighbor’s paper? Were you ever (way too) concerned about what your peers were doing, instead of focusing on your own work?

Unfortunately, some of us never got over the need to constantly compare ourselves to others. But you’re all grown up now, so you have a choice: you can constantly worry about the competition and how they’re doing, or you can learn from your competition, then focus on the road before you and successfully navigate from your own lane. It’s not easy (especially when your competition wins an award or shows up in a great news story).

Yes, know your industry and understand what’s happening around you. But instead of copying or constantly comparing, peek over and learn from your competitor’s mistakes. Constantly comparing ourselves to those around us won’t help us be innovative or the best. However, awareness, knowledge, and analysis of your competition helps level the playing field.

When you’re feeling hyper-focused on dissecting your competition, it might be time to take a healthy step back…

First, focus on your customers. How do you help your customers solve problems? What are you bringing to your customers that no one else can deliver? How do your customers feel about your products and services? What is your brand story and why does it resonate with your prospects? What values do your customers associate with your business?

Next, focus on your business. Your business is unique! Just as each person is unique, there’s literally no other business or organization exactly like you. (Cool, hey?) Understand what makes you special and play off your strengths. Keep an eye on your analytics; keep your project plan strong and your goals ambitious. Present your story to your customers with more authority than the competition and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, already!

Learn about your competitor and analyze their mistakes to keep your business on the forefront of innovation in your industry. Don’t worry when you think they’re outperforming you. Instead, arm yourself with knowledge, focus on your customers and your business, and power through with smarts, strength and determination.

To discover new ways to celebrate your unique business while outshining the competition, follow Cultivate on LinkedIn or subscribe below to receive Motivational Monday updates in your inbox each week.

 

Get Motivated Every Monday!

Marketing creativity is the ability to tap into our mental pool of resources — knowledge, information, insight, stats, examples — and combine them in unique ways. The larger the library of creative building blocks, the more visionary your ideas will grow to be.

Motivate your mind. Subscribe now to get full Motivational Mondays posts in your inbox every Monday morning:

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3 Reasons Why an Active Blog is Necessary for Long-Term SEO Success

 
Way back in 1996, Bill Gates declared, “Content is King.” In his essay, Gates predicted that content would be where “much of the real money will be made on the Internet.” In 2010, when blogging really started to gain traction, content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) professionals took that phrase to heart.

At first, we saw an uptick in plain ol’ content—mostly words tossed together in a fashion that appealed to search engine bots, but not people. Meh. As Google’s algorithms became smarter and the masses flocked to the Internet, marketers came to understand that only quality content (content that appeals to BOTH bots AND people) is the only content that will do.

Today, high quality website content has become a major force powering SEO. Why? Because Google LOVES quality content—and if you care about getting found online: when Google talks, you LISTEN!

 

How an Active Blog Helps SEO

So what about blogs? Blogs have become a turn-key content solution used to capitalize on today’s top SEO tactics. When you create a blog and update it regularly with content that attracts your target market, you’ll be edging your way to the number 1 spot on page 1 of Google.

active blogBlogs have only become more and more powerful over the years. They’re simply a must for any business these days, as a great blog has proven to be a major sales-generating tool.

Before we go any further, it’s important to understand the meaning of SEO. Search Engine Land defines SEO as, “the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial, or natural search results on search engines.” Put simply: search engine optimization is what you do to your website to bring in more web traffic.

Why bring in more web traffic?
Because your customer’s purchase starts with search.

When you add a blog to your website (following current content marketing and SEO best practices), you’re giving the search engines what they want, which can really pay off.

 

#1. Fresh Blog Content Can Influence Search Engine Rankings

You may be asking, “Why do I need to update my blog?” Fair enough. There’s a great answer for that, and it’s the key to propelling your content up the search ladder.

Each time you update your blog, the search engines send out a little crawler that reads, then indexes your webpages. When this happens, the chance your content will achieve a higher search rank increases. When creating fresh, new content, keep in mind: Quality Beats Quantity. So “refreshing” an existing blog post won’t always cut it—instead, start new often and tell stories whenever you can. Stories sell.

 

#2. Blog Posts = More Backlink Opportunities = Higher DA

Every website has something called Domain Authority (DA). Developed by Moz, this is a score (on a 100-point scale) that predicts how well your website will rank on search engines. While DA is determined by a lot of different factors, authoritative backlinks pointing to your website can help boost your rankings.

To get those high quality backlinks, you need to give people a reason to want to link to your content. Typically backlinks happen when:

  • Your content is unique and engaging.
  • You have fans (not necessarily customers) who are passionate about your brand.
  • People feel some type of emotional connection to your company and/or your products and services.
  • Your content is quote-worthy and people see a reason to cite you.

 

#3. More Opportunities for Keywords

Keywords are an important part of a complete SEO strategy. With every new blog post you create, you have the opportunity to use new or existing keywords, all of which…you guessed it…get that great content of yours FOUND.

There are two types of keywords: long-tail keyword and short-tail keywords.

 

Long-Tail Keywords: Short-Tail Keywords:
  • Longer (include 3 or more words)
  • More specific
  • Include phrases
  • Target a specific audience

Examples:

  1. Find an SEO Agency in Wisconsin
  2. Hire a Content Marketer in Waukesha County
  • Shorter (1 to 2 words)
  • Less specific
  • Include single words
  • Target a broader audience

Examples:

  1. SEO Agency
  2. Content Marketer

 

Before getting started with blogging for SEO, do understand: it can be a large undertaking. But when it’s done right, an active blog can generate loads more leads and tons more sales. When done wrong, it can end up being a big waste of time and money.

We recommend hiring professionals, so give us a shout at Cultivate Communications!
 

5 Great Ideas for Retaining Loyal, Enthusiastic Customers

Loyal, Enthusiastic Customers
Marketing is SO different than it was just a few years ago. While the Web makes it easier to start a company these days, 9 out of 10 startups still fail.

One way to claim a top 1% spot is to fully engage your customer base. A healthy bunch of repeat customers is one step shy of a wild band of brand advocates who will help you sell your product.

Hear that? Brand advocates are loyal, enthusiastic customers who sell FOR you.

No matter what you do, some percentage of your customers are only one-time opportunities. Others will appreciate your company so much they’ll become long-term customers, and they’ll recommend you to their family and friends. These are your potential brand advocates. It’s up to you to provide them incentive to continue to do business with your company.

Ask yourself right now:

  • What do we offer our customers that outshines our competition?
  • How do we show our customers we care?

Hint: If you can answer those two questions, you’re doing your part to generate a repeat customer base rampant with brand advocacy. Could you do more?

 

Try this:

1. Above ALL: Create Evangelists with Superior Customer Service

Loyal, enthusiastic customers don’t just happen. It starts with product and ends—or continues on and on—with exceptional customer service. Understand that customers don’t necessarily have to love you to continue to do business with you. Some will continue to buy your product or services because you offer something unique, because they’re resistant to change, or because your competition has a worse reputation than you do…but they’ll never advocate your brand.

Brand advocates are crazy about you. They love your products and services and their recommendations don’t come with an attached “but…”. As in, “The product is great, but the customer service is terrible.”

The first step to creating brand evangelists is to remove the “but…” with excellent customer service.

2. Offer Up Relevant, Smart, Emotional, Entertaining Content Marketing

How do your customers feel when they use your products or engage in your services? What are your customers’ interests? How can you help your customers solve even more of their most pressing problems?

Most importantly: What do your customers WANT?

It’s your job to learn these answers and provide the information, authenticity, and powerful storytelling they seek through engaging content marketing. Provide the best content on the Web that meets and exceeds your customers’ expectations—and your customers will love you for it.

Bonus: Great content marketing is great for search engine optimization (SEO)—so not only does content marketing help you cultivate brand loyalty, it also helps you gain new prospects and customers.

3. Reward the Refer-A-Friend

Refer-A-Friend rewards both the person referring AND the new customer. Dropbox is a great example. By offering extra storage on both sides, Dropbox increased signups by 60% and went from 100,000 users to 4 million in just over a year. Bam.

4. Create an Exclusive Club

Asking customers to “buy” a “rewards card” seems like a bad idea, but it works, and it works well. Amazon charges $99 per year for its Prime membership, and the rewards are worth it to both customers and Amazon. Perks include free shipping, movies, music, books, early-access deals, and more.

Here’s the kicker: Prime members spend an average of $1,500 a year, about $900 more than the average amount spent by non-member customers.

5. Give Back

TOMS is a company rooted in social good. The concept is simple: For every pair of shoes purchased, Toms provides a pair of shoes to children around the world most in need. The program has become so popular that Toms has expanded; now they also provide clean water, eyeglasses, training, and kits packed with items to help women more safely give birth.

 

Use these 5 great marketing ideas to inspire your customers to want to share their enthusiasm with others—so they tell others how much they like your products, your services, and the perks you offer to earn their business. This kind of ongoing customer lovin’ creates an emotional connection that’s difficult for your competitors to disrupt.

 
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Side Door Thinking: Learn the smart marketing tactics you need to truly engage with more customers.Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open! Want to learn more about effective content marketing? Whether you decide to outsource content marketing or not, this eBook is chock-full of great information on content marketing. Download this FREE guide, Side Door Thinking, to discover how content marketing can help you ramp up your website and complete your marketing strategy.

You’ll learn how to:
  • Increase Your Referral Rate
  • Increase Your Social Media Reach
  • Leverage New Product Lines & Revenue Streams
  • Earn Your Customer’s Loyalty & Business
  • Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource
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Motivational Monday: Super Bowl Marketing Excellence

super bowl marketing excellence

Excellence is achieved by mastery of the fundamentals.” -Vince Lombardi

Super Bowl 50 is over. Whether you were rooting for the Panthers or the Broncos, chances are you tuned in for more than just the game. It’s no secret the Super Bowl is the pinnacle event in advertising and entertainment. (What did you think of Beyoncé at halftime?)

There’s more to the big game than amazing sports prowess, pizza, beer, and car commercials. At the heart and history of football, there are lessons and amazing examples of follow-through, leadership and personal dedication.

Football is a game of inspirational stories and triumphs, from Rudy and Friday Night Lights “underdog wins” fiction to real-life examples of excellence, like Peyton Manning, Michael Oher, and of course Lombardi. Coach Vince Lombardi is well known for his famous words of wisdom he bestowed on the Green Bay Packers during his tenure, building on their strengths and honing their skills, leading them to victories in Super Bowls I & II.

As Lombardi taught his players, you must first master fundamentals to achieve excellence. This lesson can be applied to marketing, business, and even Beyoncé. (Hey, how much time do you think she spent first mastering those fundamental dance moves before she could achieve the level of excellence required to perform at Super Bowl halftime?) Achieve excellence in your own right by practicing, tackling and mastering the basics of your business communication.

So, what did you think of the game? Are you inspired to start working on your marketing, SEO, and content marketing basics so you can enjoy a championship year?

For more ideas on how to score more marketing touchdowns, be sure to follow Cultivate on LinkedIn or subscribe below to receive full Motivational Mondays posts in your inbox each week.

 

Get Motivated Every Monday!

Marketing creativity is the ability to tap into our mental pool of resources — knowledge, information, insight, stats, examples — and combine them in unique ways. The larger the library of creative building blocks, the more visionary your ideas will grow to be.

Motivate your mind. Subscribe now to get full Motivational Mondays posts in your inbox every Monday morning:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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