Bad news for all those who prefer to be top of Google’s search results without having to pay for Google adwords. As of last week Google made all organic search traffic invisible. Information as to what are the most frequently used search terms in a certain language or region (aka keywords) will be put in Google’s blackbox from now on. At first sight that seems to be a great loss. Or could Google’s move perhaps also be seen as a blessing in disguise?
Google’s move to stop the rise of inbound (or to protect its own wallet)
Google decided to use encryption to render all search traffic invisible – with the exception of search traffic on online advertising such as adwords. On September 23 Search Engine Land published a blogpost that quoted Google admitting to implementing a new policy in sharing insights about keywords used in online searches:
“We added SSL encryption for our signed-in search users in 2011, as well as searches from the Chrome omnibox earlier this year. We’re now working to bring this extra protection to more users who are not signed in.”
That sounds like a noble deed from the world’s biggest search engine. In the end, this step first and foremost constitutes a move to safeguard Google’s own business model and revenues from adwords and other ways of online advertising. On sociale media and in various blog and fora about online marketing, digital marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) this topic understandbly became trending topic. In these online conversations, Google’s step was predominantly seen as an attempt to stop the rise of new, inbound marketing. Marketeers and entrepreneurs worldwide had had better chances in getting their content found online by using those keywords that were used in online searches. That helped to save part of the advertising budget. Furthermore the clickthrough rate in the 10 organic links proved to be a lot higher than in adwords campaigns. Are these opportunities now completely vanished?
Curse or blessing?
I felt predominantly irritated and disgruntled when hearing the news. In the end the search engine giant’s new policy seems to mainly impact keyword-geeks and search term-fetisjists.
Prospects and customers will continue to search for the best answers and inspiration to their issues, dreams and problems. Really differentiating content will continue to make the difference. The best content gets most fans and friends and is being distributed amongst a much wider audience via social media. Google uses that social media factor to weigh the order of search results.
The search for suitable information will also increasingly take place in (closed) communities, which will result in information not always being indexed by search engines or visible to others. More and more searches will be started by speech from mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones. Sofar search volumes insights regarded all textual search activity. The importance of those traditional insights in keyword volumes therefore decreases.
Content marketing has sometimes been used as ‘alibi’ to dissiminate as many SEO-blogposts, tweets, whitepapers and slideshare presos as possible using the right keywords. From that perspective, Google’s move should be seen as blessing rather than curse. Quality prevails over a ‘trick’ or the sheer quantity of online content produced. SEO authority MOZ also confirms this.
What does make the difference?
Successful marketing and sales teams realize that – especially in b2b – prospects and customers will need to be seduced ‘at a distance’ by relevant advice, information and answers. Leveraging the Zero Moment Of Truth forms the basis for new commercial opportunities, leading to enthusiastic customers and word-of-mouth in the Ultimate Moment of Truth. That required and will continue to require a lot more than a clever keyword strategy.
High quality content therewith forms the basis of a smarter marketingmix. Prospects’ and customers’ digital bodylanguage makes it possible to provide way more personal, relevant content in the prospect’s own industry, region, discipline or language. When content is king, context is queen. Charting the buying process of relevant customer types or so-called buyer personas is a precondition to put the right content in the right context. Marketing automatiokn solutions such as Eloqua, Marketo and HubSpot enable marketeers and salesprofessionals to build a much more detailed customer profile based on his actual clicks and preferences shown online. Marketing automation enables b2b companies also to apply closed loop marketing: knowing what channels and instruments contribute to what extent to valuable leads and customers.
Fact based, data driven marketing will continue to gain ground. That sounds sensible and rational. Good marketing and salesdirectors realize that every purchase is primarily driven by emotion and instinct. Building customer insight about the customer’s real, deeper motivations therefore is no ‘nice to have’ or psychologists’ spiel. Building and leveraging real customer insight by means of amongst others their online clicks is increasingly becoming a creative science in which marketeers and salesprofessionals share knowledge and inspiration in cooperating with data analysts, behavioral economists, neuroscientists, psychologists and IT specialists.
The optimal use of the right content, context and customer psychology to my mind constitute the 3 pillars of effective marketing- and salesmanagement in business-to-business. By the way, further details on a new B2B concept are in my book.
Photo credit: blogs.independent.co.uk