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How to Optimize Videos for YouTube Search

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How to Optimize Videos for YouTube Search

How does YouTube SEO work? What are the steps to optimize your YouTube videos for search? The answer to these questions are simpler than you might think.

While it might seem difficult to get any exposure on YouTube, you can implement certain strategies to ensure that the YouTube algorithm favors you in the search results.

In this post, we’ll go over proven YouTube SEO tips that have worked for HubSpot’s YouTube channel and that will work for you, regardless of your channel size. Let’s get started.

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How to Rank Videos on YouTube

To get videos to rank on YouTube, we must first understand the YouTube algorithm and YouTube’s ranking factors.

Just like any search engine, YouTube wants to deliver content that answers the searcher’s specific query. For instance, if someone searches for “how to tie a tie,” YouTube won’t deliver a video titled “how to tie your shoelaces.” Instead, it will serve search results that answer that specific query.

So, as you try your hand at YouTube SEO, think about how you can incorporate terms and phrases that are used by your target audience.

You’ll also need to think about YouTube analytics and engagement. When it ranks videos, YouTube cares about a metric called “watch time” — in other words, how long viewers stay on your video. A long watch time means that you’re delivering valuable content; a short watch time means that your content should likely not rank.

If you want your videos to rank, try to create content that’s optimized for longer watch times. You can, for instance, prompt users to stay until the end of the video by promising a surprise or a giveaway.

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Is it worth optimizing videos on YouTube?

Trying to rank videos on YouTube might seem like a lost effort. Only the most well-known influencers and content creators seem to have any luck on the platform.

However, that’s not the case. As a business, you can enjoy views, comments, and likes on your videos — so long as you find the right audience for your content. In fact, finding and targeting the right audience is even more important than creating a “beautiful” video. If you’re actively solving your prospective customers’ problems with your YouTube videos, then you’ve done 90% of the YouTube optimization work.

In addition, ranking videos on YouTube is a key element of your inbound marketing strategy, even if it might not seem that way. As recently as a decade ago, inbound video marketing was a brand new idea. Marketers were learning that they couldn’t just publish a high volume of content — it also had to be high-quality and optimized in ways that made it as discoverable as possible through search engines.

That content was once largely limited to the written word. Today, that’s no longer the case. Today, a comprehensive content strategy includes written work like blogs and ebooks, as well as media like podcasts, visual assets, and videos. And with the rise of other content formats comes the need to optimize them for search. One increasingly important place to do that is on YouTube.

If you’re feeling lost, don’t worry. We cover the most important YouTube SEO tips below, so that you can effectively optimize your content for YouTube search.

1. Rename your video file using a target keyword.

Just like you would when optimizing written content, you’ll use an SEO tool to first identify keywords you’d like your video to focus on (you can browse popular YouTube SEO tools below these tips, or just click that link earlier in this sentence).

With a keyword identified, the first place you should put it is your video file — before you even upload it to YouTube. Why? YouTube can’t actually “watch” your video to see how relevant it is to your target keyword, and as you’ll learn in the tips below, there are only so many places you can safely insert this keyword on your video’s viewing page once it’s published. But, YouTube can read your video’s file name and all the code that comes with it when it’s uploaded.

With that in mind, replace the “business_ad_003FINAL.mov” file name (don’t be embarrassed … we’ve all been there during post-production) with your desired keyword. If your keyword is “house painting tips,” for example, your video’s file name should be “house-painting-tips” followed by your preferred video file type (MOV, MP4, and WMV are some of the most common that are compatible with YouTube).

2. Insert your keyword naturally in the video title.

When we search for videos, one of the first things that our eyes are drawn to is the title. That’s often what determines whether or not the viewer will click to watch your video, so the title should not only be compelling, but also clear and concise.

Although your keyword plays a big part in your video title, it also helps if the title closely matches what the viewer is searching for. Research conducted by Backlinko found that videos with an exact keyword match in the title have only a slight advantage over those that don’t. Here’s a linear representation of those findings:

how to rank videos on youtube: exact match title data

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So, while “using your target keyword in your title may help you rank for that term,” report author Brian Dean explains, “the relationship between keyword-rich video titles and rankings” isn’t always a strong one. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to optimize your title for this keyword so long as it fits naturally into a title that tells viewers exactly what they’re about to see.

Lastly, make sure to keep your title fairly short — HubSpot campaigns manager Alicia Collins recommends limiting it to 60 characters to help keep it from getting cut off in results pages.

3. Optimize your video description.

First things first: According to Google, the official character limit for YouTube video descriptions is 1,000 characters. And while it’s okay to use all of that space, remember that your viewer most likely came here to watch a video, not to read an essay.

If you do choose to write a longer description, keep in mind that YouTube only displays the first two or three lines of text — that amounts to about 100 characters. After that point, viewers have to click “show more” to see the full description. That’s why we suggest front-loading the description with the most important information, like CTAs or crucial links.

As for optimizing the video itself, it doesn’t hurt to add a transcript of the video, especially for those who have to watch it without volume. That said, Backlinko’s research also found no correlation between descriptions that were optimized for a certain keyword and the rankings for that term.

how to rank videos on youtube: keyword in description data

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Dean is careful not to encourage ditching an optimized description altogether, though. “An optimized description helps you show up in the suggested videos sidebar,” he writes, “which is a significant source of views for most channels.”

4. Tag your video with popular keywords that relate to your topic.

YouTube suggests using tags to let viewers know what your video is about. But you’re not just informing your viewers — you’re also informing YouTube itself. Dean explains that the platform uses tags “to understand the content and context of your video.”

That way, YouTube figures out how to associate your video with similar videos, which can broaden your content’s reach. But choose your tags wisely. Don’t use an irrelevant tag because you think it’ll get you more views — in fact, Google might penalize you for that. And similar to your description, lead with the most important keywords, including a good mix of those that are common and more long-tail (as in, those that answer a question like “how do I?”).

5. Categorize your video.

Once you upload a video, you can categorize it under “Advanced settings.” Choosing a category is another way to group your video with similar content on YouTube so it winds up in different playlists and gains exposure to more viewers who identify with your audience.

It might not be as simple as it looks. In fact, it’s important to go through a comprehensive process to determine which category each video belongs in. Answer questions like:

  • Who are the top creators within the category? What are they known for and what do they do well?
  • Are there any patterns between the audiences of similar channels within a given category?
  • Do the videos within a similar category have share qualities like production value, length, or format?

6. Upload a custom thumbnail image for your video’s result link.

Your video thumbnail is the main image viewers see when scrolling through a list of video results. Along with the video’s title, that thumbnail sends a signal to the viewer about the video’s content, so it can impact the number of clicks and views your video receives.

While you can always pick one of the thumbnail options auto-generated by YouTube, we highly recommend uploading a custom thumbnail. YouTube recommends the use of images that are 1280×720 pixels — representing a 16:9 ratio — that are saved as 2MB or smaller .jpg, .gif, .bmp, or .png files. If you follow those parameters, it can help to ensure that your thumbnail appears with equally high quality across multiple viewing platforms.

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It’s important to note that your YouTube account has to be verified in order to upload a custom thumbnail image. To do that, visit youtube.com/verify and follow the instructions listed there.

7. Use an SRT File to add subtitles & closed captions.

Like much of the other text we’ve discussed here, subtitles and closed captions can boost YouTube search optimization by highlighting important keywords.

In order to add subtitles or closed captions to your video, you’ll have to upload a supported text transcript or timed subtitles file. For the former, you can also directly enter transcript text for a video so that it auto-syncs with the video.

Adding subtitles follows a similar process, however, you can limit the amount of text you want displayed. For either, head to your video manager then click on “Videos” under “Video Manager.” Find the video you want to add subtitles or closed captioning to, and click the drop-down arrow next to the edit button. Then, choose “Subtitles/CC.” You can then select how you’d like to add subtitles or closed captioning.

Find out how to add closed captions to your YouTube video in the video below.

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8. Add Cards and End Screens to increase your YouTube channel’s viewership.

Cards

When you’re watching a video, have you ever seen a small white, circular icon with an “i” in the center appear in the corner, or a translucent bar of text asking you to subscribe? Those are Cards, which YouTube describes as “preformatted notifications that appear on desktop and mobile which you can set up to promote your brand and other videos on your channel.”

"i" icon to create End Cards in YouTube video

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You can add up to five cards to a single video, and there are six types:

  1. Channel cards that direct viewers to another channel.
  2. Donation cards to encourage fundraising on behalf of U.S. nonprofit organizations.
  3. Fan funding to ask your viewers to help support the creation of your video content.
  4. Link cards, which direct viewers to an external site, approved crowdfunding platform, or an approved merchandise selling platform.
  5. Poll cards, which pose a question to viewers and allow them to vote for a response.
  6. Video or playlist cards, which link to other YouTube content of this kind.

For detailed steps on adding a card to your video, follow these official steps from Google, or check out the video below.

End Screens

End screens display similar information as cards, but as you may have guessed, they don’t display until a video is over, and are a bit more visually detailed in nature. A good example is the overlay with a book image and a visual link to view more on the video below:

End screens displayed on a YouTube video

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There are a number of detailed instructions for adding end screens depending on what kind of platform you want to design them for, as well as different types of content allowed for them by YouTube. Google outlines the details for how to optimize for all of those considerations here.

It’s important to note that YouTube is always testing end screens to try to optimize the viewer experience, so there are times when “your end screen, as designated by you, may not appear.” Take these factors into account as you decide between using either cards or end screens.

These factors may seem a bit complicated and time-consuming, but remember: The time people spend watching YouTube on their TV has more than doubled year over year. There’s an audience to be discovered there, and when you optimize for YouTube, your chances of being discovered increase.

9. Add hashtags to increase reach.

Hashtags are a recent addition to the YouTube user interface that allow you to add related terms to your content, just as you would on LinkedIn or Instagram. Hashtags show up right above your video title for easy clicking and discoverability. You can use your company name, as HubSpot does below, or include related keywords.

youtube seo tips: add hashtagsWe also recommend using hashtags in your YouTube description, but don’t go overboard; the YouTube algorithm constantly checks for spam. Overly hashtagging may get you inadvertently flagged. Instead of using every hashtag you can think of, choose 2-3 that you feel most accurately describe your video.

10. Create a playlist about your video’s general topic.

As you add more and more videos to your content library, group them in keyword-optimized playlists. This will not only further signal to YouTube what your videos are about, but it will also keep viewers clicking from video to video, increasing your view count and, by extension, your rankings.

youtube seo tips: create a playlistFor example, Yoga with Kassandra grouped all of its short yoga classes in a playlist titled “5-15 min Yoga Classes.” Not only is the title short and descriptive, but the playlist description includes related keywords such as ”10 minute yoga classes,” “10 minute morning yoga stretches,” and “bedtime yoga classes.”

11. Optional: Leave a pinned comment on your own video.

Leaving a comment on your video might seem over-the-top, but it’s a smart strategy. Not only do more comments improve your video’s rankability, but if you play your cards right, you can generate high levels of audience engagement. A pinned comment may result in hundreds of replies, like it did for Matt D’Avelia below:

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youtube seo tips: leave a pinned commentBe sure to leave an engaging comment that furthers the conversation or provides more value for readers. Here at HubSpot, for example, we leave a resource pinned so that viewers can further their knowledge on the topic.

youtube seo checklist with 12 items

1. Choose a target keyword for your video. This can be a topic, a question, or a highly specific query. If you’re not sure of the right target keyword, use a keyword research tool, or simply explore YouTube’s existing content library for inspiration.

2. Include the target keyword in the file name. Don’t use spaces between each word, but rather dashes (-) or underscores (_).

3. Include the target keyword in the title. Next up, work the target keyword into the title of your video, but be creative, and be sure to do it naturally. You don’t want the title to simply be “.” The title is the first thing users will see, so try to create intrigue and interest while promising to help the viewer in some way.

youtube seo checklist: place keyword in title4. Include the keyword, as well as keyword variations, in the video description. The video description is the lifeblood of your YouTube SEO strategy. Write a natural description with 1-2 mentions of your target keyword, as well as variations of this keyword.

youtube seo checklist: place keyword in description

5. Add related tags to your video. While most users don’t use tags to find videos, they can help the YouTube algorithm categorize your video and serve it to the appropriate audience. Add around 5-8 industry tags, being sure to not overdo it so that you’re not flagged as spam.

6. Add your video category. While not as specific as tags, categories help users find your video and helps the YouTube algorithm understand what your video is about. Categories come into play in the home page, the explore page, and the sidebar menu.

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youtube seo checklist: explore categories

7. Upload a custom video thumbnail. Create a thumbnail that includes either a variation of your keyword or a short phrase that could generate clicks (such as “1,000 organic followers, fast!”). As mentioned, you’ll need to verify your YouTube channel to get access to custom thumbnail uploads.

youtube seo checklist: add video thumbnail8. Add subtitles and closed captions. Subtitles and closed captions are a much-needed accessibility component of your videos. They also indirectly help you optimize for YouTube search by giving YouTube a text version of your video content.

9. Add cards and end screens that tie into the topic of your video. Cards are equivalent to internal and external linking, and end screens allow you to engage viewers during those critical last few seconds when a viewer might be tempted to click to another piece of content.

10. Add hashtags to your video. Hashtags are different from tags. They show up above your video title and help you increase reach and authority by further signaling what your video is about.

youtube seo checklist: add hashtags

11. Create a playlist about your overarching topic. One of the best ways to optimize YouTube videos is to create playlists. Finding a few related videos and putting them in a playlist will not only attract more viewers, but it will also help the YouTube algorithm understand how your video relates to others in your upload library.

12. Optional: Leave a pinned comment to generate engagement or provide more value. As a brand, you can and should comment on your own videos — not only to reply to others, but to provide more value to readers.

Now, most of the SEO tips above rely on you identifying a keyword and promoting your video correctly. And not all of those tips can be carried out through YouTube alone. To get the most bang for your videography buck, consider some of the tools below to optimize your video for search.

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1. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

youtube seo tool: ahrefs keyword explorer

Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO platform that allows you to monitor a website’s ranking, estimate the organic traffic you’d get from each keyword, and research keywords for which you might want to create new content.

One popular feature of Ahrefs is Keywords Explorer, which allows you to look up numerous details related to a keyword you’re interested in. And as you can see in the screenshot above, you can filter your keyword results by search engine — including YouTube.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer gives you a keyword’s monthly search volume, how many clicks received by videos ranking for that keyword, related keywords, and more.

2. Canva

youtube seo tool: canva thumbnails

You might know Canva as a design template for creating all kinds of cards, photos, logos, and more. It just so happens this popular product has a Thumbnail Creator just for YouTube videos.

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As stated in the tips above, thumbnail images are critical to promoting your content in YouTube search results and enticing users to click on your video. Using Canva’s Thumbnail Creator, you can create the perfect preview image for your video in 1280 x 720 pixels — the thumbnail dimensions YouTube requires.

3. HubSpot Content Strategy

youtube seo tool: hubspot content strategyOur content strategy tool, developed here at HubSpot, allows you to find popular keywords for which to create content and then organize these keywords into groupings — what we call “topic clusters.” By sorting your content into topic clusters, you can oversee which pieces of content are related to one another, which types of content you have planned, and what you’ve already created.

While the keywords you discover in HubSpot reflect their popularity in a standard Google search, many of these topics will also produce videos on Google’s search engine results pages. In those cases, you can create topic clusters that have both blog and YouTube content belonging to them.

Clustering your content — and linking from videos to blog posts, and vice-versa — can give you more authority in the eyes of Google and YouTube, while giving you more ways to capture traffic from the people searching your topic.

4. vidIQ Vision

youtube seo tool: vidiqThis is a Chrome extension, available through Chrome’s web store in the link above, that helps you analyze how and why certain YouTube videos perform so well. This includes the tags a video has been optimized for, its average watch time, and even how quickly that video might be gaining traffic.

The vidIQ tool then provides an SEO “score” you can use to create content that performs (or outperforms) the results you already see on YouTube.

5. TubeBuddy

youtube seo tool: tubebuddyTubeBuddy is an all-in-one video platform that helps you manage the production, optimization, and promotion of your YouTube content. Its features include an automatic language translator (which helps you rank for non-English keywords), a keyword explorer, tag suggestions, a rank tracker for your published videos, and more.

6. Cyfe

youtube seo tool: cyfeCyfe is a large software suite that offers, among other things, a YouTube analytics platform. On this platform, you can track performance on YouTube and on your site.

In addition to traffic analytics, Cyfe can show you which keywords you’re ranking for and which ones are most popular across various search engines. Sounds a lot like Google Analytics or Moz, right? That’s because Cyfe has data from both of those tools, and more, built into it.

No matter what SEO tip or tool you start with, a successful YouTube channel begins with good content. Make sure your viewers have something high-quality and relevant to watch when they find you. Want step-by-step help? Download our free guide on YouTube for Business below.

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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Only 6% of global marketers apply customer insights to product and brand

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Only 6% of global marketers apply customer insights to product and brand

While many brands talk about focusing on the customer, few do it. Less than a quarter (24%) of global brands are mapping customer behavior and sentiment, according to Braze’s 2024 Customer Engagement Review. What’s worse, only 6% apply customer insights to their product and brand approach.

“At the end of the day, a lot of companies operate based on their structure and not how the consumer interacts with them,” Mariam Asmar, VP of strategic consulting, told MarTech. “And while some companies have done a great job of reorienting that, with roles like the chief customer officer, there are many more that still don’t. Cross-channel doesn’t exist because there are still all these silos. But the customer doesn’t care about your silos. The customer doesn’t see silos. They see a brand.”

Half of all marketers report either depending on multiple, siloed point solutions to cobble together a multi-channel experience manually (33%); or primarily relying on single-channel solutions (17%).  Only 30% have access to a single customer engagement platform capable of creating personalized, seamless experiences across channels. This is a huge problem when it comes to cross-channel, personalization.

The persistence of silos

The persistence of data silos despite decades of explanation about the problems they cause, surprised Asmar the most.

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Screenshot 2024 02 27 140015
Source: Braze 2024 Global Customer Engagement Review

“Why are we still talking about this?” she said to MarTech. “One of the themes I see in the report is we’re still getting caught up on some of the same stumbling blocks as before.”

She said silos are indicative of teams working on different goals and “the only way that gets unsolved is if a leader comes in and aligns people towards some of those goals.”

These silos also hinder the use of AI, something 99% of respondents said they were already doing. The top uses of AI by marketers are:

  • Generating creative ideas (48%).
  • Automating repetitive tasks (47%).
  • Optimizing strategies in real-time (47%).
  • Enhancing data analysis (47%).
  • Powering predictive analytics (45%).
  • Personalizing campaigns (44%). 

Despite the high usage numbers, less than half of marketers have any interest in exploring AI’s potential to enhance customer engagement. Asmar believes there are two main reasons for this. First is that many people like the systems they know and understand. The other reason is a lack of training on the part of companies.

Dig deeper: 5 ways CRMs are leveraging AI to automate marketing today

“I think about when I was in advertising and everybody switched to social media,” she told MarTech. “Companies acted like ‘Well, all the marketers will just figure out social media.’ You can’t do that because whenever you’re teaching somebody how to do something new there’s always a level of training them up, even though they’re apps that we use every day, as people using them as a business and how they apply, how we get impact from them.”

The good news is that brands are setting the stage for the data agility they need.

  • 50% export performance feedback to business intelligence platforms to generate advanced analytics.
  • 48% sync performance with insights generated by other platforms in the business.

Also worth noting: Marketers say these are the four main obstacles to creativity and strategy:  

  • Emphasis on KPIs inherently inhibits a focus on creativity (42%).
  • Too much time spent on business-as-usual execution and tasks (42%).
  • Lack of technology to execute creative ideas, (41%).
  • Hard to demonstrate ROI impact of creativity (40%).
Screenshot 2024 02 27 135952Screenshot 2024 02 27 135952

Methodology

The 2024 Global Customer Engagement Review (registration required) is based on insights from 1,900 VP+ marketing decision-makers across 14 countries in three global regions: The Americas (Brazil, Mexico, and the US), APAC (Australia, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea), and EMEA (France, Germany, Spain, the UAE, and the UK).

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Crafting Effortless Sales Through ‘Wow’ Moments in Experience Marketing

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Crafting Effortless Sales Through 'Wow' Moments in Experience Marketing

Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing

In an era where consumers are bombarded with endless choices and digital noise, standing out as a brand is more challenging than ever. Enter experience marketing – a strategy that transcends traditional advertising by focusing on creating immersive, memorable interactions. This innovative approach leverages the elements of surprise, delight, and reciprocity to forge strong emotional connections with customers, making the sale of your core product feel effortless. But how can businesses implement this strategy effectively? This guide delves into the art of crafting ‘wow’ moments that captivate audiences and transform customer engagement.

The Basics of Experience Marketing

Experience marketing is an evolved form of marketing that focuses on creating meaningful interactions with customers, aiming to elicit strong emotional responses that lead to brand loyalty and advocacy. Unlike conventional marketing, which often prioritizes product promotion, experience marketing centers on the customer’s holistic journey with the brand, creating a narrative that resonates on a personal level.

In today’s competitive market, experience marketing is not just beneficial; it’s essential. It differentiates your brand in a crowded marketplace, elevating your offerings beyond mere commodities to become integral parts of your customers’ lives. Through memorable experiences, you not only attract attention but also foster a community of loyal customers who are more likely to return and recommend your brand to others.

Principles of Experience Marketing

At the heart of experience marketing lie several key principles:

  • Emotional Connection: Crafting campaigns that touch on human emotions, from joy to surprise, creating memorable moments that customers are eager to share.
  • Customer-Centricity: Putting the customer’s needs and desires at the forefront of every marketing strategy, ensuring that each interaction adds value and enhances their experience with the brand.
  • Immersive Experiences: Utilizing technology and storytelling to create immersive experiences that captivate customers, making your brand a living part of their world.
  • Engagement Across Touchpoints: Ensuring consistent, engaging experiences across all customer touchpoints, from digital platforms to physical stores.

Understanding Your Audience

Before diving into the intricacies of crafting ‘wow’ moments, it’s crucial to understand who you’re creating these moments for. Identifying your audience’s pain points and desires is the first step in tailoring experiences that truly resonate.

1709033181 544 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing1709033181 544 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing

This involves deep market research, customer interviews, and leveraging data analytics to paint a comprehensive picture of your target demographic. By understanding the journey your customers are on, you can design touchpoints that not only meet but exceed their expectations.

  • Identifying Pain Points and Desires: Use surveys, social media listening, and customer feedback to gather insights. What frustrates your customers about your industry? What do they wish for more than anything else? These insights will guide your efforts to create experiences that truly resonate.
  • Mapping the Customer Journey: Visualize every step a customer takes from discovering your brand to making a purchase and beyond. This map will highlight critical touchpoints where you can introduce ‘wow’ moments that transform the customer experience.

Developing Your Experience Marketing Strategy

With a clear understanding of your audience, it’s time to build the framework of your experience marketing strategy. This involves setting clear objectives, identifying key customer touchpoints, and conceptualizing the experiences you want to create.

  • Setting Objectives: Define what you aim to achieve with your experience marketing efforts. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, boosting sales, or improving customer retention, having clear goals will shape your approach and help measure success.
  • Strategic Touchpoint Identification: List all the potential touchpoints where customers interact with your brand, from social media to in-store experiences. Consider every stage of the customer journey and look for opportunities to enhance these interactions.

Enhancing Customer Experiences with Surprise, Delight, and Reciprocity

This section is where the magic happens. By integrating the elements of surprise, delight, and reciprocity, you can elevate ordinary customer interactions into unforgettable experiences.

1709033181 790 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing1709033181 790 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing
  • Incorporating Surprise and Delight: Go beyond what’s expected. This could be as simple as a personalized thank-you note with each purchase or as elaborate as a surprise gift for loyal customers. The key is to create moments that feel special and unexpected.
  • Applying the Principle of Reciprocity: When customers receive something of value, they’re naturally inclined to give something back. This can be leveraged by offering helpful resources, exceptional service, or customer appreciation events. Such gestures encourage loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
  • Examples and Case Studies: Highlight real-world examples of brands that have successfully implemented these strategies. Analyze what they did, why it worked, and how it impacted their relationship with customers.

Best Practices for Experience Marketing

To ensure your experience marketing strategy is as effective as possible, it’s important to adhere to some best practices.

  • Personalization at Scale: Leverage data and technology to personalize experiences without losing efficiency. Tailored experiences make customers feel valued and understood.
  • Using Technology to Enhance Experiences: From augmented reality (AR) to mobile apps, technology offers myriad ways to create immersive experiences that surprise and engage customers.
  • Measuring Success: Utilize analytics tools to track the success of your experience marketing initiatives. Key performance indicators (KPIs) could include engagement rates, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction scores.

Section 5: Overcoming Common Challenges

Even the best-laid plans can encounter obstacles. This section addresses common challenges in experience marketing and how to overcome them.

1709033181 656 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing1709033181 656 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing
  • Budget Constraints: Learn how to create impactful experiences without breaking the bank. It’s about creativity, not just expenditure.
  • Maintaining Consistency: Ensuring a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints can be daunting. Develop a comprehensive brand guideline and train your team accordingly.
  • Staying Ahead of Trends: The digital landscape is ever-changing. Stay informed about the latest trends in experience marketing and be ready to adapt your strategy as necessary.

The Path to Effortless Sales

By creating memorable experiences that resonate on a personal level, you make the path to purchase not just easy but natural. When customers feel connected to your brand, appreciated, and valued, making a sale becomes a byproduct of your relationship with them. Experience marketing, when done right, transforms transactions into interactions, customers into advocates, and products into passions.

Now is the time to reassess your marketing strategy. Are you just selling a product, or are you providing an unforgettable experience? Dive into the world of experience marketing and start creating those ‘wow’ moments that will not only distinguish your brand but also make sales feel effortless.


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The Current State of Google’s Search Generative Experience [What It Means for SEO in 2024]

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The Current State of Google's Search Generative Experience [What It Means for SEO in 2024]

SEO enthusiasts, known for naming algorithm updates after animals and embracing melodrama, find themselves in a landscape where the “adapt or die” mantra prevails. So when Google announced the launch of its Search Generative Experience (SGE) in May of 2023 at Google/IO, you can imagine the reaction was immense.

Although SGE has the potential to be a truly transformative force in the landscape, we’re still waiting for SGE to move out of the Google Labs Sandbox and integrate into standard search results. 

Curious about our current take on SGE and its potential impact on SEO in the future? Read on for more.

Decoding Google’s Defensive Move

In response to potential threats from competitors like ChatGPT, Bing, TikTok, Reddit, and Amazon, Google introduced SGE as a defensive maneuver. However, its initial beta release raised questions about its readiness and global deployment.

ChatGPT provided an existential threat that had the potential to eat into Google’s market share. When Bing started incorporating it into its search results, it was one of the most significant wins for Bing in a decade. In combination with threats from TikTok, Reddit, and Amazon, we see a more fractured search landscape less dominated by Google. Upon its launch, the expectation was that Google would push its SGE solution globally, impact most queries, and massively shake up organic search results and strategies to improve organic visibility.

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Now, industry leaders are starting to question if Google is better off leaving SGE in the testing ground in Google labs. According to Google’s recent update, it appears that SGE will remain an opt-in experience in Google Labs (for at least the short term). If SGE was released, there could be a fundamental reset in understanding SEO. Everything from organic traffic to optimization tactics to tracking tools would need adjustments for the new experience. Therefore, the prospect of SGE staying in Google Labs is comforting if not entirely reliable. 

The ever-present option is that Google can change its mind at any point and push SGE out broadly as part of its standard search experience. For this reason, we see value in learning from our observations with SGE and continuing to stay on top of the experience.

SGE User Experience and Operational Challenges

If you’ve signed up for search labs and have been experimenting with SGE for a while, you know firsthand there are various issues that Google should address before rolling it out broadly to the public.

At a high level, these issues fall into two broad categories including user experience issues and operational issues.

Below are some significant issues we’ve come across, with Google making notable progress in addressing certain ones, while others still require improvement:

  • Load time – Too many AI-generated answers take longer to load than a user is willing to wait. Google recommends less than a 3-second load time to meet expectations. They’ll need to figure out how to consistently return results quickly if they want to see a higher adoption rate.
  • Layout – The SGE layout is massive. We believe any major rollout will be more streamlined to make it a less intrusive experience for users and allow more visibility for ads, and if we’re lucky, organic results. Unfortunately, there is still a decent chance that organic results will move below the fold, especially on mobile devices. Recently, Google has incorporated more results where users are prompted to generate the AI result if they’d like to see it. The hope is Google makes this the default in the event of a broad rollout where users can generate an AI result if they want one instead of assuming that’s what a user would like to see. 
  • Redundancy – The AI result duplicates features from the map pack and quick answer results. 
  • Attribution – Due to user feedback, Google includes sources on several of their AI-powered overviews where you can see relevant web pages if there is an arrow next to the result. Currently, the best way to appear as one of these relevant pages is to be one of the top-ranked results, which is convenient from an optimization standpoint. Changes to how attribution and sourcing are handled could heavily impact organic strategies. 

 

On the operational side, Google also faces significant hurdles to making SGE a viable product for its traditional search product. The biggest obstacle appears to be making the cost associated with the technology worth the business outcomes it provides. If this was a necessary investment to maintain market share, Google might be willing to eat the cost, but if their current position is relatively stable, Google doesn’t have much of an incentive to take on the additional cost burden of heavily leveraging generative AI while also presumably taking a hit to their ad revenue. Especially since slow user adoption doesn’t indicate this is something users are demanding at the moment.

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While the current experience of SGE is including ads above the generative results now, the earliest iterations didn’t heavily feature sponsored ads. While they are now included, the current SGE layout would still significantly disrupt the ad experience we’re used to. During the Google I/O announcement, they made a statement to reassure advertisers they would be mindful of maintaining a distinct ad experience in search.  

“In this new generative experience, Search ads will continue to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page. And we’ll continue to uphold our commitment to ads transparency and making sure ads are distinguishable from organic search results” – Elizabeth Reid, VP, Search at Google

Google is trying to thread a delicate needle here of staying on the cutting edge with their search features, while trying not to upset their advertisers and needlessly hinder their own revenue stream. Roger Montti details more of the operational issues in a recent article digging into the surprising reasons SGE is stuck in Google Labs.

He lists three big problems that need to be solved before SGE will be integrated into the foreground of search:

  1. Large Language Models being inadequate as an information retrieval system
  2. The inefficiency and cost of transformer architecture
  3. Hallucinating (providing inaccurate answers)

 

Until SGE provides more user value and checks more boxes on the business sense side, the traditional search experience is here to stay. Unfortunately, we don’t know when or if Google will ever feel confident they’ve addressed all of these concerns, so we’ll need to stay prepared for change.

Experts Chime in on Search Generative Experience

Our team has been actively engaging with SGE, here’s a closer look at their thoughts and opinions on the experience so far:

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“With SGE still in its early stages, I’ve noticed consistent changes in how the generative results are produced and weaved naturally into the SERPs. Because of this, I feel it is imperative to stay on top of these on-going changes to ensure we can continue to educate our clients on what to expect when SGE is officially incorporated into our everyday lives. Although an official launch date is currently unknown, I believe proactively testing various prompt types and recording our learnings is important to prepare our clients for this next evolution of Google search.” – Jon Pagano, SEO Sr. Specialist at Tinuiti

“It’s been exciting to watch SGE grow through different variations over the last year, but like other AI solutions its potential still outweighs its functionality and usefulness. What’s interesting to see is that SGE doesn’t just cite its sources of information, but also provides an enhanced preview of each webpage referenced. This presents a unique organic opportunity where previously untouchable top 10 rankings are far more accessible to the average website. Time will tell what the top ranking factors for SGE are, but verifiable content with strong E-E-A-T signals will be imperative. –Kate Fischer, SEO Specialist at Tinuiti

“Traditionally, AI tools were very good at analytical tasks. With the rise of ChatGPT, users can have long-form, multi-question conversations not yet available in search results. When, not if, released, Google’s Generative Experience will transform how we view AI and search. Because there are so many unknowns, some of the most impactful ways we prepare our clients are to discover and develop SEO strategies that AI tools can’t directly disrupt, like mid to low funnel content.” – Brandon Miller, SEO Specialist at Tinuiti

“SGE is going to make a huge impact on the ecommerce industry by changing the way users interact with the search results. Improved shopping experience will allow users to compare products, price match, and read reviews in order to make it quicker and easier for a user to find the best deals and purchase. Although this leads to more competitive results, it also improves organic visibility and expands our product reach. It is more important than ever to ensure all elements of a page are uniquely and specifically optimized for search. With the SGE updates expected to continue to impact search results, the best way to stay ahead is by focusing on strong user focused content and detailed product page optimizations.”  – Kellie Daley, SEO Sr. Specialist at Tinuiti

Navigating the Clash of Trends

One of the most interesting aspects of the generative AI trend in search is that it appears to be in direct opposition to other recent trends.

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One of the ways Google has historically evaluated the efficacy of its search ranking systems is through the manual review of quality raters. In their quality rater guidelines, raters were instructed to review for things like expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT) in results to determine if Google results are providing users the information they deserve. 

In 2022, Google updated their search guidelines to include another ‘e’ in the form of experience (EEAT). In their words, Google wanted to better assess if the content a user was consuming was created by someone with, “a degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person has experienced. There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has firsthand, life experience on the topic at hand.” 

Generative AI results, while cutting-edge technology and wildly impressive in some cases, stand in direct opposition to the principles of E-E-A-T. That’s not to say that there’s no room for both in search, but Google will have to determine what it thinks users value more between these competing trends. The slow adoption of SGE could be an indication that a preference for human experience, expertise, authority, and trust is winning round one in this fight. 

Along these lines, Google is also diversifying its search results to cater to the format in which users get their information. This takes the form of their Perspectives Filter. Also announced at Google I/O 2023, the perspectives filter incorporates more video, image, and discussion board posts from places like TikTok, YouTube, Reddit, and Quora. Once again, this trend shows the emphasis and value searchers place on experience and perspective. Users value individual experience over the impersonal conveyance of information. AI will never have these two things, even if it can provide a convincing imitation.

The current iteration of SGE seems to go too far in dismissing these trends in favor of generative AI. It’s an interesting challenge Google faces. If they don’t determine the prevailing trend correctly, veering too far in one direction can push more market share to ChatGPT or platforms like YouTube and TikTok.

Final Thoughts

The range of outcomes remains broad and fascinating for SGE. We can see this developing in different ways, and prognostication offers little value, but it’s invaluable to know the potential outcomes and prepare for as many of them as possible.

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It’s critical that you or your search agency be interacting and experimenting with SGE because:

  • The format and results will most likely continue to see significant changes
  • This space moves quickly and it’s easy to fall behind
  • Google may fix all of the issues with SGE and decide to push it live, changing the landscape of search overnight
  • SGE experiments could inform other AI elements incorporated into the search experience

 

Ultimately, optimizing for the specific SGE experience we see now is less important because we know it will inevitably continue changing. We see more value in recognizing the trends and problems Google is trying to solve with this technology. With how quickly this space moves, any specifics mentioned in this article could be outdated in a week. That’s why focusing on intention and process is important at this stage of the game.

By understanding the future needs and wants SGE is attempting to address, we can help you future-proof your search strategies as much as possible. To some extent we’re always at the whims of the algorithm, but by maintaining a user-centric approach, you can make your customers happy, regardless of how they find you.

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