For the last few years, local businesses that excel in their crafts have enjoyed a prime spot on the Google 3-pack listing of hits close to the user’s location. However, Google announced a change that will bring the 3-pack configuration down to just a 2-pack – turning the third spot into a paid advertisement.
Paid-For Inclusions: Is this the End of Good Business?
Traditionally, the only businesses included in Google’s 3-pack of local hits were those that earned their spots by genuinely doing good business. These businesses won their prominent placements through years of hard work, search engine optimization strategy, and positive consumer reviews. Now, Google is giving one of the spots (the top spot, no less) to any business that will pay for it.
Google advertised the system at this year’s SMX Advanced with the tagline: “Fully unlock the potential of local internet on mobile.” It appears the key will cost more than a little elbow grease. The 3-pack was difficult enough for businesses to get into. Now, with a 33% smaller chance, many local businesses feel put out. This change could cause problems for local business owners as well as consumers.
Consumers will lose the guarantee that the top local hit is actually a popular business. They will have to dig further for this information, looking businesses up on Yelp and reading reviews. For many business owners, Google seems to be shutting out old-fashioned, high-quality businesses in favor of businesses that pay for fame; many entrepreneurs who pride themselves on their earned status think this a poor practice.
Some consumers worry that this will be a crushing blow for local businesses, which already spend a good chunk of their budgets on optimizing advertisements for Google. Google’s need to boost revenue is quickly smothering its incentives for good businesses. The apprehension the public feels about this is worse than when Google announced it was cutting the glorious 7-pack down to just 3 back in August 2015.
The Skinny on the Slimmer 3-Pack
The new 3-pack structure – or 2-pack plus 1 ad – will be available as part of Adwords Extensions to local business advertisers. These ads may make Adwords Express a viable marketing channel for local businesses that want to jump to the top of their local 3-pack listings, if it also becomes available on Express.
Google is testing the new 2-pack, meaning we may see something different once it officially debuts. This could even mean more ads and fewer organic results. There is also the question of whether Google will keep the four advertisements at the top of the search results, hitting users with five ads in a row. We won’t find out until Google releases the change, which could be at any time.
Organic traffic appears to be getting lost in the shuffle of a pay-to-play business model with Google’s newest update. It’s too soon to tell what the new 2-pack system will mean to local businesses, but one thing is clear: It’s Google’s world and we’re all just living in it.
For more information on upgrading your SEO strategy, request your free copy of our eBook, Local Search – A Guide to Increasing Your Local Search Presence. Click below to request your free copy.
Does Your Content Strategy Have These 4 Must-Haves?
A comprehensive content strategy is the key to customers finding your website and engaging with your content—ultimately leading to better conversion rates. The decision to stay on your website or click away takes only a few seconds. Grabbing someone’s attention in those first moments is crucial, so the elements of your content strategy can make or break your website.
The number one aspect of a successful content marketing strategy is (not surprisingly) your content. However, creating engaging content is far more complex than just writing about your product or service in an exciting tone of voice. You must account for search engine optimization, consider the trend toward personalized content, and focus almost entirely on user engagement. If customers can’t engage with your content, they’ll click away.
Mastering content writing comes down to focusing on material that benefits readers. Your strategy must concentrate entirely on providing content your customers will want to read. This can take the form of an interesting blog, problem-solving or how-to articles, or a post with images or video. Mobile users—who now make up the majority of all website users—are beginning to prefer video content to written content. Keeping up with modern trends to answer consumer demands is crucial to creating killer material.
Understanding Your Ideal Client
To start, you must first understand your Ideal Clent. Content marketing is no longer about selling your product or service. It’s about entertaining and educating your readers and giving them relevant information that shows the value of your company. To remain competitive in your industry, you must know your audience inside and out. This means understanding their habits, trends, interests, and expectations.
Knowing what they need from you is the best way to hook your readers and achieve conversions. Your website must fill a gap in your industry and provide something other websites don’t offer. Find out which social media outlets your audience uses the most. If you appeal to the under 30 crowd, they’re most likely on Instagram or Twitter. Older groups trend more toward Facebook. Make your content shareable on your target audience’s preferred social media site. Tracking their trends and interests will ensure your business stays relevant.
Effective UX and UI Design
User experience design (UX) refers to the analytical and technical aspects of the user design process. User interface design (UI) refers to graphic design—although the demands are more complex. Developing a firm handle on both UX and UI is essential to creating a successful website. UX and UI work together to create an engaging, easy-to-use platform.
UX design’s goal is to boost customer satisfaction by enhancing the usability and pleasure your page provides. It focuses on the customer-website interaction. For example, the latest UX trend is to place a greater emphasis on creating a personalized user experience, highlighting customization. Indeed, the customer is now a vital part of the branding experience. The content you create must be as personalized to your audience as possible.
UI strives to create an attractive, appealing website for users. Creating a page that encourages customer interaction (such as one with responsive design) immerses your audience and makes for an all-around more enjoyable experience. Your UI strategy should also guide users seamlessly through your website, encouraging them to stay on the page and explore.
Your content marketing strategy isn’t complete without taking steps toward top-quality branding. An effective branding strategy will give you an edge over competition and leave a positive impression on customers. Branding tells your consumers what to expect from your business and what sets you apart from others. It should give your company value. For example, if your enterprise is the experienced, high-quality alternative in your industry, this is what your brand should convey.
You can’t be all things to all people—and you wouldn’t want to be. Today’s content marketing centers on offering one thing better than the competition. Customers want a company that excels in niche areas of business. Take Uber, for example. Its brand promotes a cheaper, more easily available alternative to taxis. They chose one area of that industry and mastered it. Similarly, your website, packaging, logo, and promotional materials should communicate your brand effectively and let customers know what they can expect.
All in all, your content marketing strategy needs to target what moves your company forward: customers—the lifeblood of any business. If your website keeps readers engaged with relevant material and effective website design trends, your business will stay ahead of the competition.
Want More Content Strategy?
Click image below to download our free eBook A Practical Guide to Building a Killer Content Strategy
Branding in the Inbound Age Webinar
Inbound Marketing Consultant and branding expert, Patrick Giammarco, will host a free Webinar titled Branding in the Inbound Age on Thursday, October 6, 2016 from 9-10 am EST. All registrants receive an e-book titled The Essential ABC’s of Inbound Marketing.
CLICK TO REGISTER
Giammarco, owner of an Inbound Marketing agency, has delivered marketing strategy, content marketing and inbound marketing services to businesses around the world since 2008.
“Making a brand standout today is no easy feat and branding in the Inbound Age is a different game all together,” said Giammarco. “Branding in today’s Inbound Age means branding in the Age of the Internet and digital marketing moves so quickly that brands need to keep up or risk getting left behind,” he added. “How you brand your business today is no longer just a function of clever creative and timely ad placements, but your ability to deliver content to the right people, in the right places, at just the right times.”
Attendees of Branding in the Inbound Age Webinar will learn:
- What Inbound Marketing is
- Why Inbound Marketing is critical to the growth of their business
- How Inbound Marketing works
- What businesses need to implement an inbound strategy
Are you harnessing the power of Inbound Marketing? Join Patrick Giammarco October 6, 2016 for his free Branding in the Inbound Age Webinar. Click to register http://demo.pwgmarketing.com/register-branding-in-the-inbound-age-webinar.
About PWG Marketing
A hybrid marketing agency, PWG Marketing is on a mission to replace annoying, interruptive marketing with marketing that people love. Powered by Duct Tape Marketing and HubSpot, PWG Marketing develops integrated inbound marketing campaigns that include: strategy, branding, content publishing, public relations, social media, SEO, website development, email marketing, lead nurturing and analytics. Find us at www.pwgmarketing.com.
Many people don’t know exactly what marketing strategy is or what market strategists do. They may have some idea about the components of a marketing strategy, but few really know what goes into building a strong approach.
An effective marketing strategy has to account for a business, its industry, and current trends to create a comprehensive, actionable, and results-driven set of activities focused on one particular goal or a set of goals.
Below are 6 essential components of a marketing strategy in 2016:
- Understand the company mission. Marketing strategists need to understand a business’ short- and long-term goals to develop an effective strategy. Why does the company exist? What’s important to owners/executives, stakeholders, and consumers? Finding the drive for the business will inform every marketing tactic it uses.
- Choose an approach. Most enterprises follow a set of guidelines when building a strategy. These approaches provide a framework for success that executives and marketers can use to work from and measure over a period of time. For instance, Duct Tape Marketing is a 7-step marketing system that accounts for every part of strategy creation, from developing a plan to creating a schedule of regularity to evaluate and reach strategic goals.
- Spend time on research. A marketing strategy starts with a status quo evaluation and relies on consistent updates to tweak the approach and activities and drive results. Include research in the initial phases of strategy development, and schedule routine updates to measure success and help your company tweak. Look at the details of the target market, including personas, interests, and where it spends time online and in the real world. Also understand what competitor companies do well and where they need improvement. A comprehensive picture of the current state of affairs provides a launch pad for other activities.
- Identify weaknesses. The flaws of a company are the flaws of its marketing strategy. Marketers need to know if the business uses aging equipment, if it doesn’t have the infrastructure to continue with a digital transformation, or if it’s having internal issues. Knowing the drawbacks can help marketers focus on the benefits while consulting the company on emerging markets, industry trends, and valuable investments.
- Create an actionable timeline. A company’s strategy includes time-sensitive goals and a plan of action to get there. Create a calendar with set dates or timeframes for success measurement, tactic update dates (i.e. when to refresh content online or optimize articles for current keywords), and when to revisit the overall strategy. Identify someone to take ownership for the timeline. This person, whether a strategist or marketing champion, will play an instrumental role in ensuring the plan’s efficacy.
- Identify your brand and what motivates your audience. There are four common traits (Ego, Freedom, Social, and Order) and 12 archetypes (maverick, jester, regular guy, nurturer, innocent, ruler, sage, magician, hero, creator, lover, and explorer) your brand may fall under. Knowing your brand archetype can help you pinpoint your target consumer’s pain points and leverage your products and services to satisfy them.
Some companies may choose a simple, one-goal marketing strategy to gain market awareness. Others may run a multi-faceted plan to focus on different market segments, objectives, and measurements of success. Either way, selecting an approach and making each goal actionable will improve the likelihood of success. Revisit and change your strategy as often as needed to start seeing measurable results.
Every PWG Marketing client goes through our systematic, step-by-step marketing strategy process and a marketing plan is created, resulting in a custom Inbound Marketing Game Plan built around your business goals.
Request Your Free Marketing Consultation
Let’s talk about your marketing. We want to find out what’s holding you back from achieving your business goals, fully understand your current marketing strategy and the challenges your company is facing.
Content Tips for Boosting Online Visibility
“Content marketing is king,” as many digital marketers have said. But content itself doesn’t rule supreme; high quality content does. As search engine algorithms become more intelligent and businesses become more customer-oriented, publishing engaging material is imperative. Consider these 6 content tips for boosting online visibility and keeping your company at the top of its content strategy game:
- Get to know your audience. Your production teams need to go further than brainstorming about what they would do if they were a customer. Understand exactly what kind of person makes up the target market, what those individuals find interesting, and how the brand can enrich their lives. Big data and analytics allow companies of all sizes to find this information. Discover this first, and high quality content will follow.
- Focus on originality. You don’t have to come up with something ground breaking every time you post, but it does need to express your point of view and a new angle. If you copy and paste or write an article that looks and feels too similar to another, you may not get results – and you might suffer penalties. Make sure your content reflects your uniqueness in the industry.
- Post regularly, but allow for flexibility. Posting prolifically can lead to success as long as the material maintains originality and relevancy with your audience. For instance, if you post every day and your followers constantly get emails and alerts from your blog, newsletter, or brand journalism site, they might start to back away because of the sheer volume of articles. Instead, focus on writing only when you have something truly impactful to say, and optimize that piece of content to make it work.
- Keep placement and keywords in mind. Where you put your content can also determine its efficacy. For example, a beautifully written article may resonate well with your target market, but if it hasn’t been uploaded where your market spends the majority of its time, it may go unnoticed. Post and share content on strategically chosen sites, and use long-tail keywords to ensure the right people find it.
- The headline matters more than you know. About 80% of your audience will see your headlines, but only about 20% will delve deeper into the content. Entice audiences to take a second look with attention-grabbing, curiosity-provoking, and impactful headlines.
- Multimedia is greater than text alone. Digital content includes articles and blogs as well as images, infographics, short and long form videos, slideshows, and interactive content. People all have content preferences, and some prefer to mix it up. Expand your online material to include a variety of mediums, break up the text, and invite further engagement.
High quality content comes from a place of understanding and willingness to take some risks to increase visibility and drive ROI. Use these tips, make content actionable, and revisit posts that aren’t performing. It’s never too late to make high quality content work for you.
Want to Read More about Content Marketing?
Click image below to download eBook