Earlier this year, Social Media Examiner posted an article the title of which probably struck casual readers as little more than alarmist hype. Those who took the time to read that piece, “The Death of Google Search Traffic and What It Means for Marketers,” on the other hand likely found more heft than hype in the author’s (Michael Stelzner) analysis.
Admittedly, the title suggests a state of affairs that doesn’t (yet) exist. People still go to Google every day, still look for answers to their questions there, and still type in keywords to find products and services they want and need. But Stelzner should be forgiven for maybe going a bit overboard to get your attention, because, as a marketer, you do need to pay attention to the rapid rise of Alexa and what it means for the future of traditional search engine marketing (SEM).
HOW IS ALEXA “KILLING” GOOGLE SEARCH TRAFFIC?
If you’re one of the approximately 100 million consumers who’s tuned into Alexa, you already know it’s a pretty nifty little device. Responding to voice commands, Alexa uses AI to research the internet, take charge of smart home devices, stream music and more. But what Alexa does really, really well is answer questions—and it answers those questions with a single answer—not 2 answers, or 3, or 3 billion, but 1 answer, which also happens to be the right answer—which brings us back to Google.
Now, why would someone who owns the Alexa device, someone who maybe wants to know the capital of Hungary, go to Google search and wend through a whole bunch of answers when Alexa gives them just what they want, right away, no confusion?
And here’s the more important question: how is Google responding to this frontal assault on its turf? You can bet Google is fighting back, changing the way it presents search results to effectively compete with the new, upstart on the block.
HOW IS GOOGLE SEARCH CHANGING?
Rather than getting too deep in the weeds, let’s cut to the chase. The only sensible way for Google to cut into Alexa’s ascendancy is to do what Alexa does—and the only way to do that is by making the top search result Google, itself. Said differently, when it comes to providing one answer to one question, Google is going to outrank Wikipedia, and it’s a pretty good bet it’s also going to outrank your website.
Now, you might think, “OK, but that’s just about answering simple questions. That doesn’t have anything to do with my business.” But think about it. If 100 million people are going to Alexa, that’s going to affect search engine traffic in the aggregate, and that’s going to affect traffic to your website, lead generation, email marketing and more. As Seltzner points out, the rise of AI devices like Alexa represent an inflection point in digital marketing, one that will potentially impact every business that finds new customers on the internet:
“So here’s the very possible future:
#1: Continuing declines in traffic: Search traffic continues to decline as Google takes the top slots for search queries.
#2: Fewer people to nurture: Fewer people read your content, share it, and opt into your free email offers.
#3: Fewer customers: Revenue declines as your owned audiences shrink. Fewer website visitors and email subscribers means fewer people to promote your products and services to.
Instead, you’ll need to pour more money back into sites like Google and Facebook to grow your audience and market your products.”
WHAT’S A BUSINESS TO DO?
Before you hit the panic button, think about this: this isn’t the first time savvy marketers needed to respond to tectonic shifts in the way consumers behave. Remember how marketers came up with digital marketing strategies and inbound marketing when consumers abandoned the Yellow Pages and got sick and tired of TV ads and telemarketers? Remember when content marketing, email marketing and SEO were the new kids on the block?
So, for those marketers who’ve staked their claim on acquiring new customers through Google search, this is no time to despair. It’s time to come up with new solutions that work, and arguably the best way to fill in the gaps left in Alexa’s wake is effectively integrating search and social media marketing.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING AND SEO: A KILLER COMBINATION
People don’t go to Facebook only to find old friends or post funny cat videos. The go to Facebook and other social media platforms to get answers to their questions, solve their protracted problems—and to find information about businesses and the products and services they offer. Just one example: of the almost 2.4 billion active monthly users on Facebook, almost 75% say they go there for “professional purposes.” Translation: almost 3 of every 4 Facebook users is there to do business, like maybe buying your products.
The operative question for your business, then, is not whether you should add social media marketing to your SEO strategy, but rather what’s the best way to do it? What’s the best way in other words to create a social media marketing strategy to protect your business from Alexa or any other change in consumer search behavior?
Every business is different, of course, and each needs to come up with creative solutions that solve its individual marketing challenges. That said, most will benefit from the following 4 best practice strategies:
1. PUT SOCIAL SHARING BUTTONS ON YOUR WEBSITE
This one’s a no-brainer—you wouldn’t have departments in your brick and mortar store walled off from one another. In the same way, you need to encourage cross traffic from your site and social media presence. Putting share buttons on your site will increase traffic, generate more leads and even boost your rankings in Google and other search engines.
2. MAKE KEYWORDS PART OF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
You need to apply your keyword strategy to your social media content to better integrate your SEO and social media marketing. Make sure the keywords that appear in Facebook posts and Twitter tweets not only match those you use for Google search, but are also natural and fit the context in which they appear.
3. ADD LINKS TO YOUR WEBSITE IN SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT
A principal goal of social media marketing is to increase traffic to key content on your website, like relevant and useful blogs and customized landing pages. Be sure to include relevant links to your site in social profiles, YouTube videos and Facebook posts.
4. FOCUS ON HIGH QUALITY CONTENT
Social media reach is an increasingly important metric search engines use in assessing your ranking in search engines like Google. To extend your reach, you need to post the kind of content that provides readers with new and valuable information—something in other words they haven’t viewed in other posts. The more relevant and valuable your content, the more social media followers will share it, not only increasing traffic to your website, but also increasing inbound links.
A smart social media marketing strategy has never been more critical to your digital marketing success or the resonance of your messaging. In addition to finding new ways to integrate search and social media strategy, you need to effectively archive social media conversations into a real-time archiving platform with keyword search. With keyword search, you’ll greatly amplify your ability to discover what your target audience is talking about on social media platforms and, as a result, create more effective messaging in the future.
To learn more about the ways our SEO and social media management services can help your business better understand and respond to your audience on social media, increase site traffic and take your business to the next level, contact us today.