A picture is worth a thousand words. Just ask Google.
The complex algorithms that drive this dominant search engine now give far greater weight toward rewarding relevant, quality content. “Blogs, social media, and video are king,” said Brad Bombardiere of Shinn Consulting, who during a webinar last Friday provided useful insights into how builders can get the biggest bang for their Internet marketing buck.
“The Internet is the best value for the money as a marketing took for builders,” he said. “And the good news is that the days of having an SEO [search-engine optimization] professional behind the scenes are diminished.”
Bombardiere explained that after Google’s market share slipped to 65% from 70% last year, it announced a series of changes to how information gets ranked on its site. The release of its Panda search criteria in 2011, which gives precedence to relevant content, caused many sites to lose their page rank, effectively removing them from the meaningful search arena.
Panda significantly improved search and results quality, in Bombardiere’s estimation. Sites are now rewarded for consistent relevant updates and linkages. Quality in article linkage “is alive and kicking,” he observes, and a site’s linkage portfolio—i.e., the different platforms it connects to—is now critical to its results.
In essence, “content reigns supreme again,” said Bombardiere, who recommended that builders add fresh material, including blog articles, to their sites at least once a week. Make sure, he noted, that blogs have in-article links to your website. And videos with relevant searches on a builder’s site “make a big difference” in how Google ranks that site.
Staying on top of all this is important for builders’ bottom lines, he explains, because organized search-engine optimization increases a website’s traffic by an average of 20% and lowers a site’s cost-per-click results.
The battle that is mounting between Google and Facebook can benefit builders that are using social media (SM) wisely.
This year, Google entered the ring with its Google Plus social network (which organizes “friends” into related “circles” to which specific information can be directed and edited), and its Google+1 bookmarking program. It did so, explained Bombardiere, to compete directly with Facebook, which has far more users than Google, and whose users spend more time on its site.
Google’s goal is to “spoon feed” search results to users by establishing a more direct relationship with searches and SM use. Google is tracking results 24/7, and its Chrome browser tracks searches by IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. Its search bars track searches by a user’s location, further refining future searches by what’s known as “geo targeting.” (One of Bombardiere's slides during his presentation read “George Orwell [the author of 1984] was right and Big Brother has a Name: Google.”)
Bombardiere encouraged builders to take full advantage of all social media, especially Facebook, “which extends your site to millions of viewers.” Builders can post ads on Facebook to promote their corporate sites while remaining within Facebook’s world. Plus, that user interface is trackable through Google Analytics. He also recommended YouTube as “the best and easiest website” to post videos, “and Google gives you credit for this."
Indeed, Bombardiere sees SM as “the tipping point of survival” for builders, who must understand, though, that SM is best used for branding, not for converting prospects to buyers.
As the lines between Google, Facebook, and other platforms blur, it will be incumbent on builders to view Internet marketing as “the tool of choice” to extend their market reach via multiple platforms.
John Caulfield is senior editor for Builder magazine.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Denver, CO.