As yet another update hits the headlines, most organisations tend to fall into one of these categories:
- Head-in-the-sand: “let’s ignore it and keep doing what we’re doing, as it’s working for us right now”
- Super-compliant: diligently implementing all the changes and new Google guidelines, ultimately forgetting who your real audience is (hint – it’s not a search engine!)
- Optimist: closing your eyes, hoping that your trusted SEO magician can keep recreating the rankings illusion
If your communications and marketing departments are running like headless chickens every time Google releases an algorithm update — no less than 34 in the last three years — can I suggest it’s time to worry less about SEO and more about strategy.
A robust strategy will give your organisation the agility and foresight to reach your target audiences consistently and with confidence, without the need to worry about a search engine’s next whimsy.
Popping The Algorithm Bubble
Imagine a world where you are focusing on the constant of your audiences, instead of the variable of Google algorithms. Without the distraction of having to react to updates, you could focus your time more constructively, crafting content that delivers information and answers that your customers are really looking for.
Instead of going into overdrive every time Google announces a Mobilegeddon or a Quality Update, why not have a strategy in place so that you are ready for them well in advance?
The mobile update is a great example. It is effectively Google making you take notice that people are now searching more and more on their phones. The reality is, however, that mobile online searches in the US exceeded those on PCs 18 months ago; the increasing use of mobile devices is not news and making sure that the design of your web pages is responsive is not complicated. All the same, many major brands with huge marketing and advertising departments have failed to take notice, and are now finding themselves penalized following this latest Google update.
To Keep Winning, You Need A Strategy
We hear a lot right now about big data (rightly), big pay-per-click budgets, content marketing, mobile and social media, but not much about what should be at the heart of it all: a strategy that makes all of this work in the same direction.
When I ask large global brands the simple question of whether they have a digital strategy, more often than not the answer is an evasive “not really” or “we are working on it.”
And let’s be clear about what I mean by strategy. Many of you will be familiar with a concoction of buying more traffic, trying to improve conversion rates wherever possible, an email campaign here, more Pay Per Click there, the odd translation, all finished off with a swish new design and a sprinkling of buzzwords like A/B testing, growth hacking, usability test, PPC analytics, SEO, community management…
These are all useful tools and functions, but what is missing far too often is something called content strategy. What used to be a topic of discussion among a few obscure web strategists and online groups now has mainstream importance for all digital marketers around the world, global companies, and local businesses alike.
Global brands now have the opportunity to become global publishers. There is no more need for an intermediary. You can connect with your potential audiences directly in so many different ways. This is a major shift in how global businesses communicate with their existing and future customers. With this new landscape in mind, building a robust global digital content strategy is, in my opinion, essential.
Long-Term Results From A Holistic Approach
I urge big and small brands with global ambitions to recruit a chief content officer and a director of content strategy to ensure that the entire company’s digital efforts are guided by a well-planned content strategy. From the sales and marketing departments to customer support, everyone publishing content online should work to a common goal – serving the company’s commercial goals.
For example, great customer support content should be considered just as important as marketing taglines , as ultimately they serve the same strategic objectives. People want to know how you support your products and services; being transparent about it is the best way to prove you are the best at what you do.
Anyone can create a spike of traffic with huge pay-per-click budgets, but the smart way forward is to invest in a well-thought-out global content strategy. This will initiate a major shift, where all content published in all languages will serve one purpose: providing the right information, to the right person, at the right moment, on the right channel.
I am convinced that if all the pieces of content published by your customer support, marketing, communication and sales departments serve the same purpose, not only you will not have to bother about the next Google algorithm changes, but you will be busy landing new customers and making sure your existing ones continue to be reassured that you are the best in the business.
This article was co-authored by EnVeritas Group’s Vice President of Content Marketing EMEA, Eric Ingrand and Director of Content Strategy, Irja Howie.