Long gone are the days when brands could earn SEO points through irrelevant links and keyword stuffing. Search engines are now using artificial intelligence and machine learning to remove the scum and rank web pages more and more finely. The user experience is just as important to search engines as the customer experience is to your business.
I know it can be difficult to keep up with changes in search engine algorithms. Google tweaks its algorithms thousands of times a year in thousands of small ways. However, you can’t afford to ignore the major innovations, such as Hummingbird and RankBrain, designed to reward high-quality and in-depth content respectively.
If you want your brand to rank at the top of search engine results pages in the future, your marketing strategy needs to have a healthy dose of up-to-date authority.
Simple content is not enough
Quality content is at the heart of any marketing strategy. It is essential to a brand’s ability to create exposure, make sales, build trust and loyalty, and become an industry expert. It is also how you develop actual authority.
But just because you’re producing great content now doesn’t mean you’re establishing current authority. And that’s exactly what you need to do to please the Google gods and get higher in the search results. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself just another brand in the pack with good but non-authoritative content.
The best way to establish topical authority is to create interrelated content that approaches a topic from multiple angles using multiple pieces of content. So your marketing strategy should focus on creating well-written pillar pages that provide a broad overview of a topic. Then you need to surround those pages with clustered content that digs deeper into more concentrated aspects of the topic.
Ultimately, what you create is content that can answer a customer’s question with depth and dimension. That’s what drives SEO now. Search engines want all the answers, but your brand will have to provide them.
You have to work in the bottom part of the funnel
So many marketing strategies focus on the top of the funnel – attracting as many potential customers as possible. Of course, the ability to attract a steady stream of new ones is important to any brand. But I assume you already know that retaining a customer costs less than convincing prospects to buy. Focusing on the bottom part of the funnel is necessary for retention success, so your strategy should include efforts to achieve those goals.
However, I would argue that you have to go a step further in a market that is becoming increasingly competitive due to digital media. You need to form loyal customers who are brand ambassadors and encourage others to buy from you too. You need to develop a savvy growth marketing strategy to gather those troops.
Central to this strategy is the establishment of current authority. Surely you wouldn’t send out salespeople who don’t have an in-depth knowledge of your products and services? Likewise, you can’t broadcast brand ambassadors without answering all their questions beforehand. You must provide all the information they need to trust your brand and build their trust so that they can influence others.
Conversations have replaced keywords
First came short-tail keywords, then mid-tail and finally long-tail keywords typed into their favorite browsers by users. Look at current voice search statisticsand you will understand why current authority is so important to your SEO.
More and more users speak their search queries instead of typing them in. Typing lends itself to an economy of words even in long-tail searches, while speaking does not. People are now having conversations and search engines are listening.
If you’re looking for Google gold, the coveted snippet at the top of the page, be sure to ask and answer the user’s question in your content. The only way to do that is by establishing actual authority.
Pillar content linked to cluster content tells search engines that your brand knows what it is talking about. The more they see that you have the answers to the questions their users are asking, the more likely you are to land that top spot, right where you want to be.
Authority always wins
The entire digital landscape is becoming more and more intuitive. Search engines are no exception. They don’t just search for words typed or spoken by users, but interpret their intent with the goal of delivering the best possible results.
Your brand establishes actual authority with search engines if there are no gaps in your content. You give everything the customer wants to know. Search engines, in turn, will reward your thoroughness with excellent SERP positioning.
Even with an aggressive current authority strategy, you still need to constantly focus on execution. The competition for great SERPs is as fierce as a rugby scrum. If you want to carry the ball and score goals, you need to focus your strategy on what matters now.