Digital marketing is a constant fight for attention in a venue that encourages short attention spans. That inherent difficulty of reaching online customers is woven into the DNA of inbound marketing, which has attempted to solve part of that by switching the ethos of marketing from interruptive to inviting.
But offering customers a reason to engage with your brand doesn’t completely mitigate the overcrowded nature of the internet. The holy grail of digital marketing is finding a way to appear at the top of a person’s search results when they’re looking for something that you offer, whether that’s your actual products, an aspect of your brand’s personality or values or a solution to a problem.
Ironically, the phrase “getting found online” returns over 56 million results on Google. Even the meta-conversation surrounding the nature of being found on the internet is overstuffed with noise. That also points to the wide array of potential solutions various individuals, agencies and organizations have formulated.
Some of those ideas work better than others. Here are four of the most reliable techniques for getting your brand found through inbound marketing.
1. Know how prospects are looking for you
A lot of content regarding brand visibility focuses on the “where” of being found, separated by the various platforms on which one can be found (primarily split between SEO focused on Google search and social media focused on Facebook). But the online arms race between Facebook and Google has led to the two separating themselves from the pack by a great deal. That shifts the emphasis of getting found from “where” to “how”?
Google has always prided itself on intelligent search, and they’ve kept refining their search engine’s capability in that regard. As such, your brand has to be conscious of a prospect’s needs when they’re searching for you. Search engine optimization is no longer about stuffing keywords into every paragraph. It’s about using those keywords, their synonyms and context as guidelines for how to create content for better placement in search results.
Similarly, Facebook’s search capabilities are expanding. In fact, it recently surpassed Google as the chief source of referral traffic on the internet. In the same way, Facebook posts (and the content they link to) should prioritize the needs of searchers while putting a little more emphasis on timeliness. Where Google’s strength is answering the question “where can I find something near me?”, Facebook’s is answering “what are people talking about right now?”
2. Don't forsake text
The online experience on the whole has become more content-based, and both of the internet giants have adjusted their offerings to accommodate for that. Because finding content is the top priority of most searches, improving the SEO of your content relies on knowing what Google values from a search result and what it dismisses.
While ranking factors for some things (like URLs) haven’t changed all that much, page-level factors have decidedly shifted toward intricacy and thoroughness. And as engaging and socially-powerful as videos and imagery can be, these criteria used by Google lends equal importance to content length and eloquence.
Use your blog posts and articles to answer customers’ questions specifically and thoroughly. Google favors content using tangential but related concepts—a factor called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)—that add more context to what exactly your article is offering searchers. Thus, use your text-based content to delve into individual topics in-depth. This will help your post appear front and center when someone is looking for that precise information.
3. Be valuable, be shareable
As we’ve mentioned, rising to the top of search results is a lofty task given how much noise there is to cut through. At least with social media, there’s an effective workaround—engaging anyone in particular puts you in closer proximity to all of their friends, connections or followers.
Facebook search prioritizes posts or shares from a searcher’s friends, effectively allowing those posts to jump the line in front of all other public posts. That’s in addition to those shared posts showing up in another person’s newsfeed. When content is done well, the impressions multiply as it works its way through a network of mutual friends and acquaintances.
By giving prospects something of value, you give them a reason to share what they’ve found with those they know. Between providing thoughtful, detailed answers to searchers’ questions and using other content to excite, entertain or educate prospects, getting visitors to share your inbound marketing material doesn’t just engage them. It also makes a positive impression on others connected to them.
4. Don't be afraid to get hyperspecific
With the rise of natural-language and intelligent search, there’s more value in focusing on more particular niches. This does provide a certain advantage to those with particularly unique products or services (since there’s less noise to cut through), but this also provides a loophole for other brands if they can be creative enough in their content.
Perhaps you use blog posts every so often to highlight unique uses or case studies of your product or service. You could also occasionally focus on intriguing trends in the industry and how they relate to the general populace. Find interesting specificities, tie that unique perspective to a more generalized and relevant topic and then use that content to stand out from the crowd in search results and on social media.