With Google continually tweaking its search algorithm, it’s up to digital marketers to address the most effective ways of ensuring campaigns still achieve results.
Of course, this fine tuning means previously positive tactics fall by the wayside, while on the other hand, new techniques come to the forefront, leaving a little confusion within the ranks.
From concentrating too much on rankings to the common misconceptions surrounding link building, here we look to dispel five of the most common digital marketing myths:
1. Ranking is everything
Google uses plenty of different metrics to determine whether your website will rank highly on its search engine results pages (SERPs), assessing the content on a page, the quality of inbound links, the speed of your site and if it’s optimised for mobile devices.
You should certainly look to address the above, but should you hit panic stations if your page ranking for certain keywords drops?
Not completely. Because of the Hummingbird update, rankings for specific keywords are now much less significant.
While they can still provide you with a snapshot of where you’re up to, the shift in focus towards semantic search means you should look at the quality of content (covered in point two) rather than how the amount of keywords on a particular page will help your visibility.
Universal search was introduced in 2007 and is another factor that should deter you from giving too much kudos to rankings. Essentially, it’s Google blending a mix of local results, images, videos, maps and breaking news stories in with the usual results it gathers.
It means that results will differ from one device to another and that the assessment of rankings is now somewhat distorted.
Despite this, there are plenty of other factors to consider when assessing the performance of your digital campaign. Here are the areas you should look at so you know what’s working and what isn't.
• Volume of traffic
• User time on page
• Navigation habits
• Conversions / Enquiries
• Social shares
• User comments
• User navigation after reading
• Number of followers / shares / re tweet
2. Content is just for SEO purposes
This is way wide of the mark. In 2015, the world of search has matured and Google now states your content should be of higher quality and written to help users rather than created for search engines.
This means you should have long since stopped worrying about shoehorning individual keywords into your content. Thanks to Hummingbird, keywords have had their day in the sun and semantic search has taken its place.
The result is, if you want to achieve visibility, you should create content around the topics users are searching for and content which responds to full queries and questions.
Start offering real value to your audience through writing that’s informative, engaging and enjoyable to read.
When a user clicks on your website or blog, do they find content that’s user friendly or is it written for an algorithm? Focus on the former and the latter should happen on its own.
3. Link building is dead
Depending on where you get your information from, you might be under the impression that link building is still a vital part of a digital marketing campaign. Or you might think that it doesn't matter when it comes to gaining potential traffic.
So, let’s set the record straight. Links are still one of the criteria used to rank your website’s authority. They are essential, but over time Google has been working towards punishing those seeking poor quality links, ousting those undertaking bad practice.
It now disapproves if it deems links have been earned through what Google Webmaster guru, Matt Cutts, coined as the “spray and pray” tactic of robotic outreaching and aiming for tons of low quality, irrelevant links.
But there is a flip side. When it comes to guest blogging, quality links with real relevance are the Holy Grail. Don’t get hung up on the amount of links, think about authentic journalism and unique research contributing to articles of worth.
It’s difficult to predict what Google have up their sleeve, but the best strategy is to focus on writing guest articles that people want on their websites.
4. All you need is a website
There’s the famous quote from 1989 fantasy drama, Field of Dreams. Kevin Costner hears an eerie voice from above saying, “If you build it they will come”, but when it comes to digital marketing, don’t believe it for a second.
Content distribution is as important as content production. You need to promote your website’s content through blogs, social media and any other tactic that increases exposure, be that PR or link building. All these things work together, use them.
Think of your website like a house party. If you’re the host and you don’t send any invitations, you’ll find yourself sat in a room by yourself while the nibbles turn stale and the balloons deflate along with your mood.
So, what we’re saying is that you should resist the temptation to focus only on rankings. Instead look to shout about your services and give reasons for customers to visit your site, which moves us on nicely to another useful weapon in your armoury; blogging.
5. Blogging takes too long
Another myth. Blogging is swift and trouble-free way to help build your brand, especially if you’re an expert on a niche product. We explain more about why content marketing is worth the effort in this post.
If this is you, you’ll have lots of interesting and shareable information you could offer to readers by quickly adding a useful article to your blog.
This could take form as a guide, FAQ or opinion piece designed to spark debate. Doing this, you’ll be able to drive traffic to your website while simultaneously positioning yourself as an industry leader.
Of course, this won’t happen instantly. You’ll need a long term blogging strategy where you build an audience through high quality, shareable pieces that really engage with your readership.
In a nutshell, blogging will:
• Improve traffic
• Increase your visibility
• Help you become a thought leader
• Build customer relationships
Now let’s bring social media sharing into account. Google has used social media as an off-page ranking factor since 2010, when it began determining how it could asses our social interactions on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Social should be ignored at your peril. No seriously. This in-depth study from Quick Sprout encourages social interactions in the form of competitions, votes and suggests that adding an image to any social post is likely to increase engagement by a whopping 200%.
Another development has really caught the eye this year, as Google is reported to have signed a deal with Twitter to display live tweets within search results.
So, if the topics you write about are being searched in high volumes (which they should be) and your writing is unique, valuable and sharable (which it will be), your website will be visible to a potentially huge audience.
What does this mean for your campaign?
Both businesses and agencies need to collaborate to understand how they target and benefit their customers through different touch points, be it blogs, social media and high quality content they can’t ignore.
This means focusing on what your audience wants, not the needs of the algorithm. After all, it’s people, not search engines, who will be parting with their money for your services.
If you think your campaigns could use a fresh eye, arrange a free consultation with one of our team. They'll answer any questions you have, help dispel those pesky myths and offer their advice on how you can get more from your marketing. Just complete the form below to get things started.