There's no question that the Internet has changed dramatically over the years, and that's true for how companies market their online business as well. Any business owner needs only to look at the number of changes Google has made to its search algorithm to gain a basic understanding of how Internet marketing techniques have changed over time.
Firms that do business on the Internet need to pivot their marketing strategies every time there's a shift in the search algorithms, or they could be left behind to the point where their sales suffer. Bob Holtzman of Mainebiz.com puts it rather bluntly:
“The Internet evolves so quickly that what worked a year ago might already be outmoded — and that could describe online marketing for the past decade. Just when some companies were finally building their first websites, social media began seizing eyeballs and making those behind-the-curve sites seem antiquated or irrelevant.
“Latecomers to Facebook found themselves late to the Twitter party, too. By the time some websites started to integrate social media, mobile devices were forcing more substantial changes to site design, architecture, and content.”
Currently, online businesses are reacting to the changes that occurred as a result of Google's latest update, called Hummingbird. The purpose of this algorithm change was to shift some of the weight from keyword searches to conversational searches that seek answers to direct questions.
Google has stated that it wants to promote content (websites) that are most able to answer the users' questions, so your content can't be just about promoting a product line or brand. It has to be something that is shown as valuable first. Once this foundation has been built, marketing techniques can be applied to round out your site without being too overt.
A useful example
Take this page from Cleveland Shutters for example. The headline of the page reads: Got bay windows? Need a solution that works? Right off the bat, the company shows that it's addressing an issue that viewers might have.
Now what makes this page unique is that the company didn't go for a large wall of text to describe what a person can do with a bay window; it showed the visitor a series of images that highlight solutions to a problem. The person who might come looking for an answer not only can find one, but he or she can see how Cleveland Shutters' products are a solution without being hit by traditional advertising.
The growing influence of mobile
Experts also say the growing number of mobile will surely have a huge influence on marketing in the future. “The tipping point at which more searches take place on mobile devices than stationary computers is coming faster than many think,” said Google's Search Engineer Matt Cutts. “I wouldn't be surprised if we soon take mobile page speed into account for SEO.”
As a result, budgets aimed at mobile marketing initiatives have increased 142 percent between 2011 and 2013. Much of this starts with a mobile-friendly version of the company's website, which is often overlooked by online businesses.
“Mobile Web surfers are a demanding bunch. If they visit your website and it's not optimized for both the device they're using and the different ways mobile users behave, they will get frustrated and leave,” says Ken Barber, vice president of marketing at mShopper.com.
While trends will certainly change, one thing Google has never strayed from is the importance of a quality user experience as the most important factor in ranking pages for search results. Providing valuable content and giving visitors, both via desktop and mobile, with a rich, engaging experience are both strategies that will never go out of style.