Optimization at the intersection of search, content, social, mobile and local in 2017

The digital environment is rapidly shifting. There are over a billion websites online, and customers have countless brands to choose from when seeking solutions to their needs.

Consumer behavior has rapidly matured with the growth of the online world. Customers access the internet through a variety of different platforms and channels. Two thirds of shoppers report using more than one channel when deciding to make a purchase.

At the same time, customers have also begun to abandon a traditional buyer’s journey. They now interact with brands through a series of high-intent touch points across multiple devices. Customers now guide the relationship, and brands need to be there to serve them.

Search engines responded to this shift by evolving the query algorithm to better understand intent and mold their search engine results pages (SERPs) and provide fast, convenient answers for users.

To succeed in this modern digital ecosystem, brands must do the same. They must understand how to develop content that accurately reaches the target audience based upon concrete goals.

Not only is understanding cross-channel trends within marketing key to reaching customers, but it’s also a key ingredient for brands to achieve greater ROI. Nearly 3/4 of marketers employing cross-channel methods report that these interactions result in ‘major’ impacts to the number of site conversions.

More than half also say that cross-channel marketing helps them improve their retention, and increases the likelihood of customers becoming brand advocates. Customers who arrive at your brand through cross-channel research also carry a 30 percent higher lifetime value. So organizations that go through the extra effort to create the cross-channel atmosphere will see value from their decisions.

Opportunities at the intersection of channels

For the modern marketer, the opportunity for brand success lies at the intersection between search, social, content, mobile and local. SEO is the core driver as it helps ensure material is easy to find online.

Social is then your megaphone. It broadcasts a message across the various ‘watercoolers’ of the online world, helping to engage customers in a personal way, while also drawing attention to content. These two work together to build visibility and traffic.

Next, combine efforts from these two channels with content, mobile and local strategies. Effective campaigns in these three areas grasp the devices customers use and their intent behind searches. Creating material that fills these needs builds engagement and drives relationships and conversions.

The key is creating content ready to serve customers across various devices and platforms. Brands need to meet customers where they are in order to provide them information; but without data, this is impossible. Data can let brands know what their customers search for and what they want to see when they make these queries.

It will also inform them of the success of their efforts and where adjustments can be made.

Our research at BrightEdge shows that organic remains the largest driver of traffic, with 51 percent of the people arriving on a site coming from SERPs. When using SEO as a multi-channel asset that can attract visitors across different touch points, it’s easy to understand how these different types of marketing intersect to spur growth.

Making a success of the intersection of search, content, social, mobile and local

Step 1. Analyze your current website

As companies adapt to a mobile-first world, they must create web experiences that are responsive and driven by rich experiences. However, without understanding or adhering to SEO best practices, content creators can inadvertently cause technical errors, duplicate content, or orphan pages.

These issues severely impact organic search performance resulting in decreased traffic, conversions, and revenue.

To best understand how the intersection between these various elements will work for your brand, you need to look at your site currently and gauge how leads arrive. Ensure that you break down traffic, including by device, to better understand the motivations of your existing customers.

This will provide insight into where to focus more of your efforts and safeguard your content and website.

Step 2. Perform keyword research

Looking at statistics behind applicable keywords will reveal traffic rates and competition levels, helping you better understand the terms and topics that most interest your prospects.

You also want to monitor trends as part of this research. Trends will reveal rising topics of interest, allowing you to create and promote content of interest before all of your competitors, establishing your authority and ranking.

Step 3. Look at the user intent behind keywords

Marketing today is about understanding the micro-moments that dominate user activity. Customers reach for their devices when they experience a particular type of need they want fulfilled. The better you understand the intent of these customers – whether they want to go, do, buy, or know something – the better you will be able to tailor your content to meet these needs.

Search engines have been tailored to predict the intent of customers, which explains why some searches have features such as local 3-packs, featured images or videos and Quick Answers. Understanding the intent behind searches allows marketers to create content messages and formats that will most likely appeal to customers.

Step 4. Make sure all content is mobile friendly

Customers today are on mobile for a large part of their digital experience. More searches today take place on mobile. Compared to desktop, mobile devices now account for 65 percent of all digital time spent. All content produced should serve the needs of customers on these devices through responsive web design, fast mobile load times, page navigation and layouts that reflect the needs of mobile users.

Remember that mobile also strongly overlaps with the need for local optimization. Over fifty percent of on-the-go searches have local intent. Local mobile search can be a powerful step in the conversion process. In fact, 80 percent of these searches result in offline purchases.

This means that as brands optimize for mobile, they should also pay close attention to the local and “I want to go” intent for particular keywords. Optimizing for hyperlocal search can be critical for attracting these customers.

Step 5. Optimize all content through SEO best practices

Remember, SEO is the driver of this explosive intersection between channels. As you create content for different user intents and devices, you must optimize it. This means more than just including keywords. You should also pay attention to meta descriptions, title tags, image alt tags, layout and how the content fits in with the rest of the website.

Familiarize your content creators with basic SEO practices and ensure they work closely with the SEO team to create material that will rank as highly as possible from the moment of publication.

Step 6. Broadcast content through social media

As you create optimized content for different channels, ensure your content and web teams partner with the social media team to develop a promotional strategy. Followers on your social media platforms have already revealed some degree of interest in your brand. A strong posting strategy will enhance this relationship and encourage more to enter the sales funnel.

As you publish content, promote it on the social media sites where the target audience most likely resides. For example, highly visual content developed for young adults in their late teens and early twenties might best promoted through platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. The better you understand your audiences, the more highly targeted your content strategy will become to generate returns.

Such promotion will broadcast your content, encourage sharing and increase visibility before it even ranks highly on SERPs. As an added bonus, promotion can also drive traffic and attention to your site, increasing the odds of others linking to your page from their own websites.

This can then help boost your reputation and authority in the Google algorithm, potentially increasing your position on SERPs. As you rise in rankings, your content will naturally attract a wider audience, showing how the different pieces of this strategy work together.

Although the dangers of siloed marketing have been apparent for several years now, the potential implications of relying on these outdated strategies cannot be more apparent than they are today. The customer does not live on one channel or one platform, and brands must meet these needs with a consistent voice.

Understanding how these elements intersect can help brands create an effective strategy. Follow this six stage process and see how using content, SEO, search, social, mobile, and local can spell success for your organization in 2017.

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