From Search Engine Optimisation to User Optimisation. How mobile and voice-activated search is changing the way we approach SEO and digital marketing
Back in the ‘olden days’… Yes, I’m really talking about 2009. A joke circulated the SEO community:
‘An SEO copywriter walks into a bar, grill, pub, public house, Irish, bartender, drinks, beer, wine, liquor…”
In what seems like no time at all, the way we approach SEO and digital marketing have moved on.
This month I spent an enjoyable day at BrightonSEO.
Here the great and the good in the world of SEO converged to discuss topics such as ranking factors, content strategy and the future of search.
On the day I learnt some surprising statistics:
- In 2020 it is expected that 50% of all searches will be activated by voice search
- 92% of consumers read online reviews before deciding which company to buy from
- More than 50% of web traffic today is via mobile.
More importantly, I learnt that SEO today requires you to put your audience front of mind when planning any content or communication.
So what does this mean for small businesses?
Today I’m going to share with you some useful, practical and realisable takeaways from the day.
The future of search
For starters, we need to understand that Google’s strategy isn’t to bamboozle us with ever-changing algorithms.
The simple truth is Google is keeping pace with new technology.
Indeed Google’s various algorithm updates show us it’s getting cleverer with search.
Back in 2009 Google provided us with a keyword planner. It allowed us to perform keyword research to understand the phrases searchers used to find content.
Today Google has taken away much of the functionality from that planner. It wants us to understand the audience’s intent behind their search queries.
Think of all the different situations in which someone might put a search query into Google to bring your business up in the search results.
You need to know if user intent is:
Informational: Is the user asking broad questions? Then the user is looking to learn something.
Transactional: Here the user intends to buy a specific product. Their search terms might include the words ‘buy’ and ‘purchase’.
Navigational: The user has a clear intent. It is looking for specific websites and brands.
Speaker SEO and Content Marketing Specialist Stacey MacNaught explained:
To help you identify your audience’s intent:
- Ask your customers questions: “Who, what, why, where, when, how.”
- Make use of surveys (Survey Monkey, Google forms)
- Interview customer-facing staff. What questions do customers ask you?
What this means for your marketing content
Clearly, context must be the major driver and influence in all your content.
Plus, your content needs to be mobile friendly. This means it needs to be clearly laid out and easy to read.
Speaker Andi Jarvis of Eximo Marketing advised us to:
- Start with your company story. What stories can you tell about your business?
- Back up your story with testimonials. You recall I mentioned 92% of consumers read online reviews before deciding upon which company to buy from.
- Be clear about who your customers are. Build personas of each type of customer. Then use your content marketing to talk to them individually.
- Be clear about what problems your products and services solve. Start with the benefits. Then move on to the advantages and features. Not the other way round!
“The only thing your competition cannot copy is your story.”
Speaker Jade Tolley of Zazzle Media suggested three types of content that’ll meet the needs of each type of user intent.
- Surprise and delight your audience with shareable content that builds brand awareness
- Examples include e-books, infographics, cheat sheets and checklists.
- Regular, engaging content that builds relationships
- Examples include blog content and news about industry events
- Content that targets search and enquiries/sales
- Create pages on your website that flesh out your products and services. Examples include product how-to guides.
“47% of people read 3-5 pieces of content before deciding to buy.”
What small businesses need to know about SEO in 2017
To sum up. The good news is you don’t need a huge budget or vast amounts of technical expertise to rank well in search engines.
What you do need is to be clear about who your customers are. Also, to create content that answers their questions, according to the situations they find themselves in.
The overarching message from BrightonSEO was, stop focusing on search engine optimisation. Start focusing on ‘user optimisation.’
So go ahead and make it happen.
If you would like help writing persuasive communications, then do get in touch. You’ll be surprised at how straightforward writing can grab your audience’s attention.
About Claire Hawes
Claire Hawes is a marketing communications copywriter. She enjoys writing engaging copy that helps businesses to get noticed and attract enquiries. Claire’s experience mainly lies in the business to business sector. Her clients include both businesses and digital marketing agencies.