SEO beyond Search Engine Optimization: Convergence with Content Strategy & Towards a Holistic Strengthening of Digital Capability



The best practices in Search Engine Optimization have evolved over the years to coalesce the ever-evolving research methodologies of the B2B prospects. SEO in its present state is being dominated by the Internet of Things (IoT) and as the researching methodologies of prospects have evolved, so have the SEO practices.

Back in the early 2000s, SEO used to be more technical & it was paramount for website developers & SEO strategists alike, to ensure that the code of a website was crawlable as well as indexable.

The mid-2000s witnessed link building & keyword stuffing as main practices, which are still in practice; however, they soon became lackluster in late-2000s when Google updated their algorithm, which was inclined towards intent-based targeting of the prospects.

Early 2010 saw Google enforcing stringent algorithms to get rid of spam-based optimization – in particular, the link-buying Black Hat SEO strategies that had become dreary & deteriorative.

With the start of mid-2010, SEO & content strategists started working in conjunction, to complement each other. Before that, the role of content was viewed as secondary. It was a time for a renaissance in the SEO world when the SEO strategists had already started thinking of integrating with Social Media strategists & working on the optimization of video-based content vis-à-vis the text-based ones for keyword mining & targeting.

With the foundation being led for optimization of users’ experiences (particularly their on-site experiences), by 2015-16 had arrived a time which countersigned the idea of Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), which along with omnichannel marketing encouraged a correlation of fragmented content strategy across omnichannel (The main pieces of content were on the primary domain & were to be discovered by the prospects on their preferred devise platforms, as well as the social media channels that they preferred for content consumption).

At a time when the inbound marketing & content marketing strategies were intermingling, to assist the marketers in their bottom-line objective of optimizing the website conversions; other digital realms also started aiding to the standard practices of SEO.

By 2017, the concepts of voice searches & employing virtual digital assistants had attained a critical volume & simultaneously mobile searches surpassed the desktop searches for good. 

The Evolution of SEO Algorithms

From the start of 2018 & presumably till the end of 2020, we have stepped into an era, wherewith the assistance from the Internet of Things (IoT) & omnichannel marketing, marketers plan to optimize, everything everywhere.

The increase in the reach is one of the prime objectives for the marketers worldwide – be they in any specific industry; the other most important being targeting specific prospects.

Google is the most popular search engine network across the globe & time & again has kept abreast with the evolving researching habits of the prospects as well as has also assisted the marketers with segment-based targeting of prospects. These days, the prospects with long fostered digital footprints are easier than ever to target. The data from the demographic, technographic, psychographic, firmographic insights of the prospects is integrated with the “fit-data” & the past browsing & buying histories of the prospects.

Targeting the intent signals across omnichannel not only assists the marketers in segmenting their prospects into specific clusters or niches as per their marketing resources & priorities; but also assists them in re-targeting those prospects and nurturing them as Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), till they become ready for sales & finally generate the sales conversions.

As per a report published in the Search Engine Journal (SEJ), 51% of the online traffic on a website is a repercussion of organic searches. Organic searches, along with direct landing of the prospects on the home page or specific landing pages of a website, are key indicators of how strong the brand equity of an enterprise is & how easily can it be discovered by the audiences – local ones in particular.

Google, time & again has employed a succession of algorithms to keep the search engine etiquettes unbiased, relevant & spam-free. The algorithms are subject to minor changes almost daily.

The changes oftentimes are just minor tweaks, invisible enough to be predicted; however, when the rankings on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) start getting impacted, the marketers need to scrutinize their SEO strategies to keep abreast with the latest updates.

Let’s delve deeper into the progression of vital algorithm updates by Google that impacted the core SEO practices, starting from the most recent to the earliest ones:

1. The Core Algorithm update on March 12, 2019 (Shifting perspectives from the myopic niche-specific targeting of prospects to a more comprehensive & all-encompassing Global view):

In the pursuit of segment-based marketing, relevance shouldn’t be left behind. Marketers had started practicing too much niche-specific targeting strategies, which could have adversely impacted both the standardization & execution of the core marketing practices as globalized unique entities.

In an era of globalization & outsourcing, too much of niche-specific targeting can be a deteriorative practice.

Though the recent update by Google may not be the biggest one, it will allow the marketers across the globe to focus on relevant SEO & content marketing practices, to establish their brand resonance & help them increase their domain authority.

The other key features of the update are as under:

  • The update is arguably a reversal of Google’s medic update (or E.A.T update) which came into existence in August 2018 & focused primarily on promoting Expertise, Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness (E.A.T). It seemed slightly biased towards favoring websites related to health, fitness & wellness related verticals, those that worked on the lines of YMYL (“Your Money or Your Life”) philosophy.

However, this also is a fact that in an era of Internet of things (IOTs) & convergence of interdisciplinary aspects of core fields of expertise viz. engineering, science, sociology, psychology, marketing & what-not, expertise isn’t something that can be essentially be confined to specific types of websites

  • While specifically designed niche pages have lost their caliber to an extent, the Key Performance Metrics (KPIs) from web analytics such as:

1. The Average Time Spent by the audiences on the website

2. Higher Page Views per Visit & Lower Bounce Rates

3. Visit & Visitor Conversion Rate; are vital factors in deciding the rankings of a website on SERPs

  • User Experience (UX) has evolved as a single-most decisive factor in optimizing the rankings & SEO strategists as well as the marketers should take care that websites should focus on creating authoritative & valuable pieces of content to instill in their audiences a sense of trust.

Several other factors such as website loading time & the design, look and feel of the website as well as the landing pages play a pivotal role in optimizing users’ experiences (UX).

2. The Fred Update on March 8, 2017 (Targeting Websites that disseminate low-quality posts, violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines) 

Fred was brought into equation with the following prime intentions:

  • To do away with the blogs having low-quality content that assimilate too much of promotional kinds of stuffs or are studded with ads for generating revenues
  • The ads could be displayed only on high-quality webpages with relevant pieces of content, providing surplus information on specific topics – to engross the attention of the audiences & to optimize the conversions
  • A webpage spattered with numerous affiliate links was a strict no-no under the scrutinizing guidelines of this official Google update

3. The Possum update on September 1, 2016 (Assisting the prospects by streamlining & prioritizing their local searches & featuring them on the Search Engine Result Pages)

This update was characterized by the following key features:

  • This update personalized the search results for the researchers based on their location – the closer the researchers used to be to the geographical location of business relevant to their searches – the higher was the probability that the business would be displayed in the local search results
  • The algorithm also prioritized relevant businesses outside the physical geographical realms, wherever necessary
  • Possum led the foundation of geographical targeting & location-specific rank tracking & optimization of the local Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)
  • With the help of tools such as Rank Tracker, the marketers were in a better position to assess their local ranking on several search engines – Google in particular; to evaluate, benchmark & optimize their performances in terms of local competitors

4. RankBrain launched on October 26, 2015 (As a supplement of Hummingbird update, to do away with the irrelevant features & promote query-specific pieces of content as well as to get rid of the shallow content so optimize Users’ Experience (UX)):

Following are the significant features of the RankBrain algorithm:

  • It was a supplementary algorithm to Hummingbird & includes the machine learning algorithms that help Google interpret the intent behind specific searches
  • Taking into account the multiple data points across omnichannel, which involves the demographic, technographic, firmographic, psychographic, “fit-data” as well as insights amassed from the past purchase histories & buying decision of the prospects, the algorithm personalized & published the intent-specific results on the SERPs
  • RankBrain has been termed by Google as the third most important ranking factor & according to many specialists across the globe also continues to be a self- evolving algorithm, which, in turn, cannot be further optimized
  • To score higher rankings, abiding by the guidelines of RankBrain, brands should strictly work on the creation of relevant pieces of content & should also assimilate a lot of competitive analysis and benchmark studies, to achieve their prime objective of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Care must be taken that content should be relevant & diversified. Comparing KPIs across several social channels after benchmarking the competitors online for their social endeavors, also aids in improving the rankings on the SERPs.

5. The Mobile algorithm launched on 21st of April, 2015 (to reprimand the rankings of brands with having poor mobile usability, particularly those possessing a lackluster website design)

The key features of the website are as under:

  • Mobilegeddon, Google’s update for mobile takes in account the “mobile-friendly pages feature” as the top criteria for ranking the mobile searches; the websites that haven’t been optimized for mobiles are featured considerably down in the SERPs, despite having relevant pieces of content.

Since late 2015, when the volume of the mobile website traffic for the first time surpassed that of the desktop traffic, thereby establishing mobile as the most favored devise platform for the users, Google’s mobile-friendly test has helped marketers optimize their website for mobile – to attract, engage & convert an increased number of potential buyers.

  • Analyzing the relevance of the pieces of content by scrutinizing how the potential buyers prefer to engage with the pieces of content, allows the marketers to focus on the technical & non-technical aspects of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to split-test & optimize for a mobile-friendly website.

6. Pigeon launched on July 24, 2014, in the US & on December 22, 2014, cumulatively in UK, Canada & Australia (to promote impactful on & off-page SEO optimization strategies):

Pigeon algorithm has the following demarcating features:

  • This algorithm is unique as it encompassed both the traditional SEO algorithms as well as the specific local search result algorithms for optimizing the results on the SERPs for the end-users
  • Investing in efficient on & off-page SEO strategies can be helpful. For measuring, analyzing & optimizing the SEO endeavors tools such as Google Analytics can prove to be useful
  • The off-page optimization is much more time-taking & requires consistent endeavors as compared to the on-page optimization strategies. It includes organizing events, sponsoring industry-specific & participating in other vital events across the globe for reputation building & improving brand resonance. Link building & backlinking the pieces of a relevant content on the primary domain of a website with those on other websites (often with higher domain authority), having the pertinent pieces of content helps the brands in getting relevant traffic as well as enables them to feature comparatively higher on the SERPs. Tools such as LinkAssistant help in discovering authoritative domains for backlinking.

However, care should be taken that providing backlinks to the poor quality websites as well as backlinking with domains with poor pieces of content are considered to be deteriorative SEO practices that can adversely impact the SEO rankings.

7. The Hummingbird algorithm update on 22nd August 2013 (to do away with the retrogressive Black Hat SEO strategies of excessive keyword stuffing & buying of backlinks which led to the creation of low-quality content & took away the trust factor essential for domain optimization)

In a historic algorithmic update by Google to do away with the deteriorating SEO practices such as keyword stuffing, Hummingbird came into existence.

The characteristic features of this algorithmic update are as follows:

  • Hummingbird personalizes & prioritizes the results on the SERPs as per the users’ intent. The intent data gathered from omnichannel, which primarily includes the data from psychographic analysis of the audiences & those from their past browsing history & purchase records are taken into consideration while optimizing the results on SERPs
  • Out of the several exclusive features of Hummingbird is the natural language processing that leverages latent semantic indexing, complementary terms & even synonyms before displaying results on the SERPs
  • Researching about the niche-specific & personas’ preferred keywords is still important in Hummingbird. However, care must be taken that the pieces of content on the website are not excessively studded with certain keywords, driven by the motive of securing higher SEO rankings. These are considered to be faulty SEO practices & Hummingbird penalizes such websites
  • Google Related Searches & Google Autocomplete might help in analyzing the keywords being searched by specific audience clusters. Several tools such as Google Analytics & SEMRush also help in researching keywords to weave specific content strategies for optimizing them, which in turn, helps the brands in expanding their reach
  • Contextual marketing is the need of the hour & marketers should focus on the same to rank high

8. The Penguin update implemented on April 24, 2012 (to get rid of the down-rank websites with manipulative, irrelevant or spammy links in real-time)

Penguin was amongst Google’s core algorithmic updates, brought to fulfill the following prime objectives:

  • It was one of the first algorithms that worked in real-time to down-rank the websites with manipulative links or with over-optimized anchor text
  • The quality of websites backlinking to the primary domain needs to be tested as poor quality backlinks can adversely impact the domain authority as well as the rankings on the SERPs. Tools such as SEO SpyGlass can be leveraged for scrutinizing the quality of backlinks
  • Care should be taken to monitor unexpected backlinks

9. The Panda Update applied on February 24, 2011 (to thoroughly do away with the plagiarisms or irrelevant pieces of content, keyword stuffing & spams)

With the emergence of the Panda update, the following addendums were incorporated into the traditional search discovery patterns by Google:

  • Panda ranks the SERPs based on a “quality score
  • Initially, Panda was Google’s supplementary algorithm for filtering results but it was assimilated & given the status of the prime Google algorithm in January 2011
  • Abiding by the standards of Panda, featuring higher on SERPs includes an error-free website as a primary pre-requisite. The marketers should, therefore, run frequent website checks at regular intervals of time, whether monthly or quarterly to get rid of minor errors such as those related to spellings & grammar as well as the prime ones on gateway errors, broken links & errors related to https & bad gateways
  • Split-test running the websites with the help of Website Auditor helps the marketers in getting rid of the errors & optimizing the primary domain as well as the landing pages & the call to action buttons for maximizing the sales’ conversions

Convergence of SEO with Evolving Content

The evolution of content marketing & its integration with the other vital digital marketing practices including SEO, PPC advertising, digital advertising, Search Engine Marketing has not only expanded the realm of digital marketing but has also ensured that digital marketing as an all-encompassing strategy converges SEO, content marketing & the standard practices of inbound marketing as its subsets with essentially overlapping & similar elements – that operate not in silos, but as integrated units of the whole digital strategy.

From the time when content marketing was first put to practice (arguably in the year 1895), many content marketing strategies, just like those of SEO have eloped, integrated with & evolved with other digital strategies. In the year 1895, John Deere launched the magazine named Furrow which was the first custom publication that educated the farmers on optimizing their revenue before selling specific products to them.

Shifting Paradigms & Brands across the globe moving towards an all-encompassing, 360-degree digitized solution including SEO, Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Digital Advertising & Growth-hacking practices as major sub-sets 

According to a study published by Google, B2B marketers across the globe are putting in endeavors to delve deeper into the realm of consolidated digital expertise, wherein, the concepts of SEO, Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Digital Marketing are being integrated with several growth hacking technics, to create more meaningful insights. The insights help the marketers in figuring out & optimizing attribution models on the maximized sales’ conversions.

According to a study published by Marketing Leadership Council & Google, digital expenditure of technology & professional service provider firms in B2B dominion oftentimes exceeds 15% of the total marketing budget of the companies & large-scale enterprises may end-up spending as much as half of their total chunk of core marketing budget on integrating & optimizing the digital endeavors. 

With the evolution of the digital marketing prism in the B2B realm, the interdisciplinary aspects of SEO, Content Marketing, Digital Advertising, Inbound Marketing & Growth hacking practices have been unleashed. As the digital footprints of the prospects in the modern digitized world are visible like never before, there are some apparent challenges as well.

The multi-data touchpoints spurred across the digital footprints of the prospects – in terms of their demographic, technographic, firmographic, psychographic, “fit-data”, cookie-data as well as the data gathered from the past browsing histories of the prospects and the methodologies of their research; need to be analyzed using several automated platforms, often integrated with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.

The analysis of big-data using the evolving machine learning algorithms (such as k-means clustering), & leveraging artificial intelligence & machine learning are not only imperatives of hyper-targeted advertising campaigns, but also are essential prerequisites that enable the marketers to make intelligent data-driven decisions, to optimize their revenues.

Pre-cognitive intelligence using the insights from data analysis is being leveraged in predictive marketing endeavors such as assimilating predictive content analytics for hyper-targeting & retargeting prospects across omnichannel. The integration of interdisciplinary aspects of digital marketing is characterized by numerous challenges on integration, structural, managerial & execution fronts.

To overcome these challenges & to chalk out a strong framework for unveiling the entire spectrum of digital capacity; the marketers need to constantly split-test run numerous strategies, so that they can optimize their digital endeavors to achieve their bottom-line goal of optimized sales’ conversions as soon as possible; leveraging integrated platforms which allow insights from multiple data points & subsets of digital prism in form of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Growth Hacking for psychoanalyzing the prospects & for their intent-based targeting.

While capturing the intent signaling of the prospects is not as difficult as it appears to be theoretically, at first instance; the real challenge may be tracking the implicit decision-making factors that influence the buying decisions of the prospects.

Explicit decisions are evident & can be predicted while measuring & interpreting the implicit signals can be a real challenge. Several machine learning algorithms are being developed for tracking the implicit intent-signaling.

According to a study by Brainfluence, 95% of all thoughts, emotions & learning occur subconsciously; however, renouncing the implicit signals, most of the marketing professionals focus on enticing 5% of the customers’ brains to take desired actions required to optimize the sales’ conversion rate.

Steps to be followed by B2B brands for the overall unification & strengthening of their Digital Capabilities

1. Defining the Digital Strategy: 

Sticking to the conventional ways of marketing ceases the progress of an organization. In a fiercely competitive B2B world, marketers need to frequently shuffle & split-test their marketing & sales strategies, to achieve sustainable growth. The bottom-line goal of achieving an optimized conversion rate isn’t possible until the marketers aren’t able to chalk out unique ways to experiment with modern marketing tactics.

Defining a consolidated digital strategy requires thinking in a forthright manner & leaving behind constrained philosophies so that the marketers can establish synchronicity between the best SEO practices, Content strategies, Digital Marketing & Growth Hacking to get the maximum output from their digital endeavors.

2. Setting Internal Yardsticks for Integrating Expertise: 

Marketers need to set standards for each of the digital strategies that they wish to amalgamate, go generating the maximum productivity of their digital endeavors.

Setting internal benchmarking standards for quantification of digital strategies individually, as well as figuring out ways to measure their cumulative effect, amalgamating all the digital strategies (for example measuring the overall website conversions or the Visit & Visitor Conversion Rate) are the essential pre-requisite that can help the marketers in optimizing their digital endeavors by measuring their deviations from the standards & optimizing them afterward.

All these ever-evolving strategies to establish an all-encompassing digitized portfolio helps the marketers in achieving their bottom line goal of optimized conversion rates.

3. Getting rid of Organizational Silos: 

It is essential for the brands that their marketing & sales teams work in integration to get the maximum out of their digital endeavors. Oftentimes, the sales team isn’t aware of the pieces of content that their sales-ready prospects have already been served with, during their nurturing processes as leads. Marketers need to realize that personalization at each stage of the individual buying cycle of the prospects is of utmost importance, & the prospects need be served with hyper-targeted pieces of content at every stage of their buying cycles.

There are several automated & semi-automated plug-in tools for modern Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, which allow proper coordination between marketing and sales teams.

A place where marketing & sales teams can break the ice & integrate is an ideal one for the optimization of sales revenues. Besides, it also helps marketers expedite the journeys of their prospects through the sales funnels so that they can bolster their Return on Investment (ROI).

4. Managing Omnichannel Marketing: 

With the increasing impact of social media, marketers need to be present everywhere. Brands need to find their niche on social media platforms & attract their prospects by multichannel marketing. Targeting, attracting & converting the prospects from multichannel helps the organizations in attracting high-quality traffic as well as in expediting the sales conversions by intent-based targeting.

Aligning & integrating digital strategies to get referral traffic from several domains on to the main website of the businesses, as well as on their social media pages, expands the reach of the marketers.

As the prospects prefer to engage with their preferred pieces of content on a platform of their choice; social media platforms serve as tools of conversion rate optimization by attracting, engaging & converting a huge quantity of referral traffic.

5. Leverage technology to Encourage Cross-functionality between Marketing, IT, Procurement & Sales Teams:

The several automated platforms integrated with CRM as well as the data visualization tools such as Tableau, & webinars for meetings, allow marketers to develop a highly centralized & well-integrated marketing road map, wherein, they can ask for the inputs from other teams in preparing an all-encompassing digitized strategy for their organizations to optimize their Return on Investment (ROI).

Cross-functionality ensures that biased evangelism is discouraged & only the best of technological & strategically sound inputs are incorporated to help the organizations in developing an invisible digitized contrivance to optimize their revenues.

6. Website Designing and Optimization:

Having an attractive website design is an essential pre-requisite for driving sales conversions & optimizing them. Along with the Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), attractive website design also assists brands in achieving several other over-arching goals such as in engaging the prospects on to the website, assessing the demand of a product by monitoring the queries being submitted on the website, in client acquisition & in establishing brand equity.

Not only the quantity of traffic on the website is important but the quality is also vital. The optimization of a website includes optimization of texts & images on the website, optimization of landing page designs of the conversion buttons. Care should be taken that website is clutter-free. Website loading time is also an important factor & shouldn’t exceed more than 2 seconds under ideal circumstances.

To optimize Users’ Experiences (UX) & for optimizing the total website conversions, the following methods can be employed:

  • Managing Content by selecting landing pages, marketing content & researching about the product literature
  • Leveraging modern tools & media also help in the optimization of User Interface (UI) & website design
  • Having a proper architecture for receiving, storing & processing vital information about website traffic & conversion rates, helps the marketers in assessing the performance of their website as well as helps them in optimizing their website for increasing their revenues
  • Along with the quantity of traffic on the website, the quality of traffic should also be monitored & given special importance as an essential pre-requisite for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
  • Optimization across Omnichannel should be given special impetus as mono-channel marketing is not only out-of-fashion but can also adversely impact brand equity as well as the total revenue

7. Establishing Competency Centers or Centers of Excellence (COE) for integration an array of Digital Endeavors:

A COE model is paramount for the brands as it helps them in merging several digital endeavors such as paid media advertising, social media marketing, email marketing, omnichannel content strategy & other vital steps of digitization. The digital centers of excellence perform the following vital tasks:

  • They help in collection & execution of best industrial practices to optimize the efforts of a digitized ecosphere
  • They help in promoting inter-departmental cross-functionality as well as in building & fostering relationship with other vital agencies as & when required
  • They provide impactful advice on training & talent management
  • They provide valuable inputs on vital pieces of training & for talent management, to help brands keep abreast with the best practices
  • They help in properly administrating & defining standards for technology as well as for infrastructure

To Sum It All

The modern ecosphere of B2B marketing requires marketers to step out of their comfort zones and make sincere efforts towards the development of all-encompassing 360-degree digitized solutions. Hyper-targeting of the prospects, after defining the prospects & segmenting them into specific clusters is the need of the hour. Furthermore, mono-channel marketing is not only out-of-fashion but also adversely impacts the engagement matrices of the brands, such as the reach of the brands.

Effective multichannel management strategies are required & these strategies need to be well-integrated so that they can be measured (qualitatively as well as quantitatively) and the marketers can optimize their Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI).

The biggest challenge in running a multichannel strategy is the integration of big data collected from several points to generate meaningful insights that would help in integrating & optimizing digital endeavors.

Several Business Intelligence (BI) tools have been designed to provide meaningful insights from the data to the end-users. Optimizing users’ experiences is an essential component of optimizing conversions & for the same purpose, the intent signals of the prospects are also traced out (by deriving insights from their demographics, technographic, firmographics, psychographic analyses as well as their “fit-data” scrutiny). The tools such as Alteryx, Birst, ClearStory, Datameer, etc. can help the marketers in delving into details for generating insights from multichannel data analysis.

We, at Valasys Media, deploy our wealth of knowledge to help our B2B clients with their core bottom-line goals such as an optimized Return on Investment (ROI), optimized users’ experiences (UX) & optimized sales revenues. Our services such as lead generation, lead nurturing, account-based marketing, appointment setting services & content syndication services have all been designed to help our clients optimize the Return on their Marketing Investment (ROMI). For deciphering the methodologies to architect perennially healthy sales pipeline, feel free to get in touch with us.

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