In the beginning days of the Internet, dumping keywords into content was all it took to place well in search. Keyword lists on headers, footers and ghost text (invisible text written in a color that blended with the page) yielded maximum search engine optimization (SEO) benefit.
Google’s subsequent changes to its algorithm – Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird – now focused on how people searched. People don’t search for keywords. They search for 7-9 word phrases/questions. For instance, instead of searching for “communications degree,” people search for “best schools for communications degree.”
These changes in search from an evolutionary sense on the part of the user to the algorithm that helps rank quality websites, drive the necessity behind creating an integrated marketing strategy. An integrated marketing strategy takes into account earned, owned and paid media.
Earned is the most elusive and the product of the trust you build in interactions with your customers. This form of media means customers are marketing for you on social profiles, blogs and rating sites. Brand ambassadors singing your praises drive sales/conversions at a higher rate than any other.
Creating brand ambassadors takes time, and it’s done through creating a quality product or service, earning a reputation of responsiveness and disseminating quality content. Loyal brand ambassadors will not only share content of yours but create content or their own such as ratings and reviews. These drive sales (if they’re favorable) by influencing others and increasing your rankings on search.
Since your brand is not in control of earned media, you must monitor it consistently.
These are the properties you “own” such as your website, blog and social media profiles. While you can’t control the reactions that occur from these postings, you can control the content. Your keyword strategy on these locations will create the relationships that will give birth (or not) to earned media. The interactions/earned media are noticed by search engines and improve your ranks accordingly. A brand receiving a high level of interaction and shares is deemed “quality content” and elevated in search.
Paid media will get your name in front of those performing Internet searches, but it’s also the least trusted. It appears in the paid section at the top and right of search results, as well as in display ads (such as Google’s remarketing).
The Future of Marketing
As earned media becomes more important, and testimonials and product reviews drive sales, paid media is becoming a less trusted source of information. Employing a keyword strategy that incorporates the use of social media to connect and distribute quality content that solves customer problems (and thus gets shared) is essential to getting noticed by the search engines. Dropping the keywords into your content, or keyword stuffing, without producing quality content will get your website penalized by search engines. Creating quality content means understanding your audience and communicating effectively. A degree in communications online helps prepare you for marketing’s changing landscape.
Because earned media is not controllable or scalable from a marketing/sales perspective, brands will need to look at all facets of content media when creating a keyword strategy.