Businesses are investing more to acquire page rank and ad position – because it works.
In our previous articles in this series, we cited 3 important contributors to the need to budget for ongoing website maintenance and marketing: increased security requirements, expanding complexity in website structure, and rapidly evolving SEO. Each of those factors demand more resources and feed the fourth complexity element, competitive spend.
Both B2B and B2C businesses are investing more in their websites. Gartner reports that marketing technology is the “single largest area of investment when it comes to marketing resources and programs.” Companies are dedicating more investment in digital marketing and increasing website spend either through the IT budget or the marketing budget, or both. Websites are normally the core of digital marketing efforts, so it’s important to keep them up to date with fresh content and regular back-end updates. According to a CMO Survey, marketing digital spend was 44% of the marketing budget in 2018 and is projected to rise to 54% within the next five years. To state the obvious: when your competitors are devoting themselves to enhancing their sites, there’s only so much time before untended sites lose ground.
YOUR SITE HAS TO BE EASY TO FIND WHEN INITIATING A SEARCH AND SOME COMPANIES ARE BUYING THEIR WAY TO THE TOP.
Not only are you competing against other companies for position, you are competing against paid search and Google’s location listing. For instance, I googled “metal fabrication services” and the entire area above the fold* on my desktop monitor was paid search advertising and Google location results. The number one non-promoted position was actually in the number seven position on the page.
*Above the fold is a nostalgic carryover phrase from the halcyon newspaper days, referring to the content immediately visible on the front page, above the fold of the newspaper. It’s where the most important news appeared. Today, it refers to the area that’s immediately visible on the home page or landing page without scrolling.
WordStream researched the impact of these activities several years ago and they found that:
“Clicks on paid search listings beat out organic clicks by nearly a 2:1 margin for keywords with high commercial intent in the US. In other words, 64.6% of people click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy an item online!”
If anything, paid search has only increased since that research was first reported.
CPC (COST PER CLICK) ADVERTISING HAS INCREASED
Competition for ad impressions and higher ad positions on Google Ads is getting stiffer, and the law of supply and demand applies. (Helpful Tip: Use Google’s Auction Insights tool to see what competitors are doing, so you can be more strategic about your paid search bidding and budgeting.) Additionally, organic search page space is getting smaller as Google offers more space for ads at the top of the page. More competitors, plus larger ads, has resulted in significant increases in ad costs.
COMPETITORS ARE INVESTING IN QUALITY CONTENT
Part of Google’s ranking algorithm involves being judged as an authoritative source, providing content that gives visitors what they are searching for. This means your site needs to deliver helpful information or solutions to searchers, as opposed to keyword stuffed blather. Consequently, forward-thinking businesses are investing in ongoing production of quality content, whether it’s blogs and articles, white papers, or updated page content. There was a time when a few misguided “gurus” were advising companies to hire a college kid to crank out blogs on the cheap. That was never good advice, and it’s the opposite of what is needed to compete in today’s digital marketplace. Quality content means providing well-written expert advice and solutions, crafted by a writer that understands your business. Design and functionality play a role as well. Superior content helps win the page rank race and brings visitors back for return visits, which helps page rank even more.
Aside from the Google factor, quality content is critical to acquiring new customers and keeping old ones. Content needs to be easy to use, whether it’s to find a product, learn how your service can solve a problem, get directions, or get in touch. It also must look great, as multiple studies have shown that visitors form an opinion about a business’s trustworthiness and quality in less than a second after the page opens (another reason the above the fold factor is important). The businesses that invest in getting the content right will be the ones that acquire the most leads and new customers.
BOTTOM LINE: WINNING LEADS AND SALES REQUIRES STRATEGICALLY PLANNED, ONGOING INVESTMENT.
The companies that choose to ignore the importance of ongoing website maintenance and investment in content are going to see competitors fly by in the fast lane. But that doesn’t mean we advocate throwing a bucket of money at your website and assuming the problem is solved. Committing to having the right plan and budget in for your business is step one. Step two is being smarter than the other guys out there, so you get more for the buck. If you’d like some perspective on how your business can compete in the digital race to acquire customers and win business, let’s talk.