December 27 2022
Digital Marketing Trends and Tool Updates 2023: Part 1
Understanding Users’ Search Intent Will be Key in 2023
With each new algorithm update, digital marketers prepare their clients for the major trend shifts and changes that may result. For any team, getting inundated with news on updates that may or may not affect them can be frustrating. That’s where TopSpot comes in. We get ahead of the latest changes and trends so that we can advise and implement what’s best for your operation, whether an enterprise or a small-to-mid-size business. In this blog series, we’re covering the most impactful digital marketing trends and tool updates for 2023 to help you gear up for a great year.
We’ll first focus on understanding a user’s search intent—the most important trend in digital marketing now and has been the driving force behind our search strategy for almost two decades. The search defines the user, meaning a business can understand customers’ needs by utilizing the terms they search for. Grasping and understanding a user from their searches can be done through a network of reporting tools, each providing a section of that user’s story and working together to bridge any gaps in data to complete that story. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the current and upcoming changes to reporting tools so that we can adapt without losing momentum.
No one searches the same way. 15% of searches made daily are unique and have never been searched before. This has been the case for a long time, and as you go further down the buyer’s journey, the more unique and specific a user’s search gets. When looking at paid search and SEO programs, the goal of our strategies is to capture users at the end of that cycle. This is your target audience, and this is where you want your resources to go.
When we think of paid search and SEO within the buyer’s journey, content that educates users on products and services aids in the awareness stage while content about your business specifically, such as your competitive advantages and expertise, helps during the consideration stage. Both apply the B-SMART method, and this is the content that should answer a search query should a user’s intent fit your products and services. When successful, this content strategy tees your business up for the biggest stage of the buyer’s journey, the decision phase. Then utilizing lead analysis tools that look at post-conversion data, like a CRM or Loop Analytics, teams can smooth out this process, impact ROI, and help develop long-term strategies. This is the foundation of what we do—discovering what’s your buyer’s intent, strategizing how to show up where it matters, and seeing that intent fulfilled.
Let’s Help a User Out—Google’s Helpful Content
Google released what they called “Helpful Content Updates” this past August, which is a machine-learning model that focuses on people-first content versus content created primarily for search engines. This backs up our focus on user intent as Google is looking for terms potential customers are already using. Search engine performance is fed by user data—it does not create anything without those users. Last week, Google ran the first announced update of the system meant to improve classifiers and work across content globally in all languages. The system is designed to promote content that is helpful to users and helps them achieve their intent by avoiding sites written only for SEO purposes.
With a renewed focus on trust, Google looks to reward content written by humans. While Google isn’t opposed to automation and AI-generated content, they want to discourage text, images, and videos added just to improve search rankings. The goal here is to ensure content populating the landscape has real value. The big question is, how do they do this? Using reputation based on what others say, content created from the viewpoint of first-hand expertise, and knowledge graph connections (connections to similar topics from the author or brand) are now heavily considered by the algorithm. Additionally, a new site-wide signal for ranking web pages automatically identifies content that seems to have little value to those doing searches.
Helpful Content encourages content creators to stay in their “lane”, meaning sticking to the site’s primary purpose. Getting added traffic with a keyword just for traffic’s sake does not benefit lead count or user experience, but most importantly takes away from Google’s renewed focus on trust. For instance, the term “metal pickling” shows results for both steel pickling and jewelry making. To avoid users whose intent is jewelry making, staying focused on the more specific term “steel pickling” ensures traffic includes the right type of customers.
Another suggestion from this list is to ask yourself, “does your content answer your searcher’s query, and does that content provide a satisfying experience”? Putting yourself in the user’s shoes (or rather at their keyboard) and then applying data can illustrate your customer’s story from an almost first-hand point of view. You want to make sure you are matching the right customer needs with the right solution.
Emphasizing Experience When We E-E-A-T
Since 2014, Google has had a set of logic and criteria on what makes quality content called “E.A.T”, which stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness”. Aligning with Helpful Content, this informs Google’s search Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG) and explains how the search engine evaluates good, quality content. We can understand what a user needs based on what they are searching for, what modifiers they are using, and what Google perceives to be the need based on this information. The images, videos, and businesses that pop up can paint an intent landscape your business can strive for.
QRG, which added 11 new pages of guidance in December, can help you understand the way content is rated to inform your strategy. Google must have been hungry for more as the guide added another “E” to the popular acronym “E-A-T”. We now have E-E-A-T which stands for “Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness”. Significantly, this new “E” was added upfront. “Experience” highlights content creators’ first-hand experience with a topic, meaning higher quality information for searchers. With this new addition, Google emphasizes that trust is at the center of this concept and stresses that this is where the algorithm is going. Plus, Google is working toward inclusive language and added many new mentions of social media platforms, influencers, and content formats, such as video.
With so many changes to Google’s priorities and algorithms, another key in 2023 is to have insight into the effects of these changes so that you can prepare. TopSpot has the tracking tools to understand the intent and fulfill the criteria Google is looking for. These tools include Google Analytics, Loop Analytics, CallRail, Advanced Web Ranking, Google Search Console, Google Ads, and Bing Ads. Altogether, this allows the TopSpot Team and the Client’s Team to see the full story—the needs and engagement of potential customers. With these tools, we can see what language and search terms are being used and see the types of companies looking at your business.
TopSpot knows that traffic for traffic’s sake is a waste of time, money, and resources, plus it leaves a bad taste in a user’s mouth. Any time SEO strategy is discussed, we are looking for keywords with the user’s search intent in mind so we can guarantee their clicks result in helpful content to answer their queries. That builds trust between a business, its online presence, and potential customers, but this isn’t done solely by the TopSpot Team. We absorb all the details that our Clients share about their business, wanting to go beyond an overview of their offerings—the Clients tell us their story, and we refine it for SEO. With so much emphasis on learning about a Client’s business, we can display the first-hand experience and expertise the algorithm is looking for. It’s a team effort built on trust.
What’s Your Takeaway
We should all take a page from Google’s effort to restore trust in its users by thinking about intent and experience when creating content. This trust exercise will ultimately benefit everyone by seeing users’ intent fulfilled and quality leads gained versus wasted time on unhelpful sites and unnecessary traffic that can cloud data. TopSpot’s Team prides itself on trust and integrity, having already operated on this logic long before Helpful Content and E-E-A-T came along. This experience in working with user intent, along with expertise in obtaining essential data, means your business won’t only lose momentum, but also gain it in 2023.Tags: content, digital marketing, google, trends