Google may not be a superpower in that it doesn't have an arsenal of high-grade nuclear weapons at its disposal, but it certainly controls arguably the most pervasive medium in our everyday lives. What's more, it is having a disproportionate effect on your marketing activities – or at least it should be.
It is certainly clear that marketing has evolved beyond all recognition in recent years. However, in the last 18 months its rate of change has accelerated, largely driven by the changes to both Google algorithms and our reliance on 'search' to find and procure any kind of product or service.
At some point during every prospect's journey to your door they will do something with Google to find out about you. It has become the ubiquitous sales and marketing tool that is now central to all campaigning.
Arguably, some forms of traditional marketing are having a lesser effect. Take traditional telemarketing that relies on a good database and a team of keen telesales professionals; this isn't much use now unless the company has heard of you, or unless they can search for what you do live during the call. And if you aren't on page 1 of Google, you can expect to hear them think: "Why am I even talking to you?"
Another traditional method, email marketing, focuses its efforts on pushing you to a web page. Of course there is value in that, but it's unlikely that a prospect would visit that page without then going on to check out how you respond to the issues in the industry or doing a web search to find out how to compare to your competitors.
Being on page 1 in a Google organic search has therefore become the nirvana of marketing activity, but at what price? Sure, you can pay for the privilege of being on the first page outside of the organic listings and get charged for every time someone clicks through to your site. This is a great way of ensuring visibility, but an expensive method if you happen to be in a market with stiff competition for those search terms.
And it's not that easy. Google, of course, has a lot of very clever resources focused on making sure that unless you pay to be at the top, you won't be able to get there by any other means. The world of SEO, for example, is in free fall now that Google's algorithms actively penalise anything it sees as SEO activity. The very term Search Engine Optimisation is becoming a misnomer to Google – how dare lesser companies try to bias the search results of the mighty Google.
It might sound daunting, but giving up at this point is really not an option and for some, paying the increasing fees that come with paid search are cripplingly high with often diminishing returns. So where to next?
Let's start with the basics. What does Google aim to do and has been preeminent at doing? That's simple – giving you the most accurate return that meets your search term. So, the next bit is simple too – be that accurate result that Google returns around the key search terms that refer to what you do. Sounds too simple? Well it's not easy, but it can be simple.
Google gives a decent bias to what it deems as good wholesome non-salesy commentary. It also biases its results towards those sites that are a trusted source of information. Editorial copy on publications' web sites and independent blogs rate amongst the highest of these. Additionally, since Google started indexing social media like Twitter, it's a must-have requirement to have an active Twitter feed; meaning that Twitter can no longer be ignored or under-loved.
But there is a way. Generating and then placing relevant and engaging thought leadership opinion and commentary that speaks to your industry and the issues that drive your customers' decisions in the media (press or social) as the engine of your marketing campaign, will give disproportionately positive results on Google organic search and move you to that all-important page 1.
Of course, doing that in-house can be a challenge. The sheer volume of high quality content needed and the discipline of being able to place that in all the right places that Google looks at, can be a daunting task. But putting a clear plan in place and having a content roadmap driven by some keen professionals who know just what Google likes, can make the task easier.
Google might well rule the world of marketing. But, like any ruler, you just need to know how to treat them and you could end up with your very own knighthood.
By Ashley Carr.