In the fast-changing world of digital marketing, companies notice quickly (and nervously) when their website pages get “demoted” in Google search rankings. This nervousness is understandable because a high Google ranking is crucial to attracting visitors, subscribers, and ultimately, customers. The stats don’t lie when it comes to digital marketing:
- The vast majority (87%) of shoppers begin their product searches online.
- 81% of B2B purchasers search for content before they speak to a vendor.
- Three out of four Google users never click past the first page of search results.
Today’s search-dependent (and time-strapped) users have to trust Google’s search algorithms to provide the most relevant, authoritative, and well-designed content on page one. Google takes this trust seriously and releases thousands of algorithm changes a year, and several “core updates” to fine-tune its results. A lower ranking following a core update doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve fallen behind in digital marketing, it just means Google has tweaked its product to make it better for users.
Here are some tips for improving or maintaining your site’s ranking when Google makes these core updates to its algorithms.
Focus on Quality Content and Best Practices
Rather than panicking every time your website gets demoted, Google advises companies to focus on the core goal of content marketing and search engine optimization. It’s not about riding the temporary ups and downs that occur naturally whenever there is a core update. At the end of the day, it’s about providing quality content that demonstrates Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (or E-A-T) and doing so on a consistent basis.
In a blog post explaining its latest June 2019 core update, Google compares search engine rankings to an ever-changing list of “best movies”:
“One way to think of how a core update operates is to imagine you made a list of the top 100 movies in 2015. A few years later in 2019, you refresh the list. It’s going to naturally change. Some new and wonderful movies that never existed before will now be candidates for inclusion. You might also reassess some films and realize they deserved a higher place on the list than they had before. The list will change, and films previously higher on the list that move down aren’t bad. There are simply more deserving films that are coming before them.”
In other words, a great movie is a great movie is a great movie, even if a greater movie comes along in the future. Likewise in digital marketing, the best practice is always to produce great content that is as good or better than the current top 10 search results. Nobody stays in the top 10 forever; there is always great new content being created.
If your company is consistently producing top-notch content, then you don’t have to be overly concerned when a core update drops you lower in the rankings. Just keep doing what you’re doing by producing content that is fresh and adheres to E-A-T standards.
A digital marketing agency like Cobalt can help make sure you stay ahead of the pack with new content that maintains these best practices and helps shift the ranking order once again — with your company back at the top.
Focus on Brand, Not Just Pages and Content
Not only is content still king in 2019, but the way people consume and engage content has changed dramatically from even a few years ago. Users are more heavily influenced by their social media feeds and are more likely to engage content if they follow a brand on social media. Think of it this way — you are more likely to stop and chat with someone on the street if you’ve seen them before or know that they have similar interests.
SEO is still vitally important, and an important part of what we do as a digital marketing agency, but ultimately, SEO is a technique for computers and marketers, not for real people. Nobody searches for sneakers or attorneys while thinking about metatags and word counts. This is how digital marketers and search engines think about content, but real people are thinking about content as an extension of the brand.
Does your content make users excited about your brand and products? Is the content informative and well-presented? Does it feel authoritative and make users want to make a purchase or pick up a phone then and there, without looking around for other search results? These are the sorts of questions that help determine how users will engage content and how the search engines will rank websites and webpages going forward. (Google has provided a longer list of questions at its blog to help you adjust content production to ongoing changes to its algorithms).
Google’s core updates and other algorithm changes (in one year the company made 3,200) are evolving along with how users engage content. If your brand shines through your content, then users will keep coming back even if you’re a little lower in the search results. In fact, they’ll seek your brand out apart from Google, follow you on Facebook, and subscribe to your blog updates. SEO will always be important, but brand presence is becoming much more of a factor in your site’s ranking.
Partner with a Digital Marketing Agency for Better Results
There are some things only your company can do, such as defining what your brand stands for and making sure your content is consistent with these values. But the actual mechanics of producing great content on a consistent basis is a full-time job that requires the expertise and resources of a great digital marketing agency.
Google will continue making regular updates to its core search ranking algorithms, and a digital marketing agency can help you stay on top of these. But just as importantly, digital marketers can combine the technical aspects of SEO with the creative aspects of branded content and adhering to best E-A-T practices. Digital marketing is an art and Cobalt is dedicated to helping our clients get to the top of the rankings — and stay there.
If you are ready to invest in your business’ future by taking the plunge into digital marketing, no one does it better than Cobalt Digital Marketing. Armed with our award-winning Cobalt Formulaᵀᴹ, our catalysts have the experience and creative chops needed to keep you ranking high on Google.