Content marketers often struggle to keep up with Google’s algorithm, which can determine the success or failure of their efforts, making search engine optimization a challenge.
SEO strategy was one of the top concerns for marketers at HubSpot’s Inbound 2022 user conference. People rely on search engines to find the content they want, and websites that rank on the first search results page for a keyword can get a lot of visitors. Marketers need to know how to optimise their content for search engines to improve their rankings.
Marketers’ leading SEO challenges include algorithm changes, undeveloped AI, slow results, and too many tools.
1. Google algorithm changes
Google changes its search algorithm several times a year, affecting companies’ website traffic. The changes typically reward high-quality content relevant to the most crucial keyword phrase. However, the algorithm evaluates many variables – including links to content, site speed and thoroughness of content – and many marketers who attended the Inbound Conference said they struggle to keep up with the changes.
“From March to now, we have seen a 20% drop in organic traffic across all of our clients, which is a little concerning,” said Gracie DeSantis, an inbound marketing specialist at marketing agency Vye. “It makes you wonder, ‘Is it something we are doing as an agency?’ I think it’s largely because of the [algorithm] updates.”
Marketing teams can not control the Google algorithm but can control how they respond to it. Companies looking to improve their SEO strategies should not only stay abreast of what Google is saying publicly about its algorithm but also build a solid brand to develop authority in their markets.
In a session titled “What’s Next: How to Navigate Marketing Around Search and Social Algorithms,” Neil Patel, co-founder of marketing agency NP Digital, explained that Google’s algorithms favour established brands, so marketers should consider the brand building as an SEO strategy.
Patel said that to build a strong brand, companies can offer free online tools. Free tools, such as plagiarism checkers or calorie calculators, typically generate many brand queries on Google from people who want to use the device. That can boost a company’s brand authority and SEO ranking.
2. Artificial intelligence
Almost every industry uses AI in some form, and marketing is no exception. Although AI-powered SEO tools can help marketers find alternative keywords and generate anchor text variations, they often struggle to create complex content.
“Today, it’s hard to get AI to write an entire article because [the technology] just is not there yet,” says Dale Bertrand, founder and president of marketing agency Fire&Spark. “Our experience has been that it’s just going in the wrong direction.
While AI is not capable of writing full articles, it can still help writers create content. For example, it can generate title tags, subheadings and other pieces of content that authors can edit, add to and expand.
“When I used to write an article, I would pick a keyword, write an outline and then write the article,” Bertrand said. “Now I give a tool a keyword and it suggests other keywords and questions I should use in my headings, and it suggests sentences and paragraphs. Then I have to have a human edit the article.”
In addition, marketing teams can use AI to create what Bertrand calls “efficient content.” Bertrand said this could include comparison pages, templates or FAQs, where AI can better create this type of content.
3. Slow results
SEO strategies can help businesses increase traffic to their website, but it can take months to see results. These strategies have many factors, such as content quality and quantity, site authority and UX – all elements that take time to develop. Business leaders often underestimate how long they have to wait to see improvements in traffic, according to Cole Godsey, senior marketing manager at 121eCommerce. This agency helps clients build e-commerce websites, and it usually takes at least three months to see results, Godsey said.
Marketers must commit to a long-term SEO strategy and not be discouraged by slow results. They should invest time and resources into building a library of high-quality content specific to their target audience’s needs. To increase a website’s authority, companies can also acquire backlinks – links from one website to another – from other websites that Google deems trustworthy.
4. Too many tools
SEO tools can streamline processes such as keyword research, but excess tools can hinder productivity. For example, an SEO strategist may use one tool for keyword research, one for performance tracking, and another for web crawling. When software stacks contain too many isolated devices, it can be frustrating for users to switch back and forth between the different applications.
“It can be overwhelming,” Godsey said. “One of the things I have had to do over the years is reduce all the resources I use.
Marketers should first determine which features are duplicative to optimise an SEO software stack. For example, a company may pay for a standalone keyword research tool but also have a web crawler tool with its keyword research capabilities. In this case, marketers could eliminate the standalone device. In addition, marketers might replace all or most of their isolated tools with an SEO software suite to enhance their software UX.
Over time, search engine algorithms have become more sophisticated and difficult to manipulate with shortcuts like keyword stuffing. To be successful, marketers need to keep up with algorithm changes, create quality content, and build their brand authority. AI tools can help streamline content creation, but editors need to steer them in the right direction. In addition, SEO marketers should develop a long-term strategy and optimise their SEO software set.
If you want your SEO strategy to help your business succeed continuously, you need to keep an eye on SEO trends.
This list of SEO trends in 2023 will help you keep your SEO strategy up to date so you can perform well in search results and drive more qualified traffic to your website.
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