Written by Howie Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant, NAPL

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According to Forbes Magazine, the Internet has drastically changed the way companies market their services. The most significant change has been with inbound marketing and they predict that seven marketing trends will dominate 2014 including:

  1. Growth in content marketing
  2. Diversified social media marketing
  3. Image-centric content
  4. Simpler marketing messages
  5. Mobile friendly marketing
  6. Retargeting ads using cookies
  7. Search engine optimization

We have been monitoring this trend for several years in a variety of different research projects. For example, in the 2013/2014 and NAQP Sales and Marketing study, when participants were asked to list all the marketing tools companies used, their website was chosen 39% of the time, which was number two on the list. When asked what was the most effective marketing tool, the website was chosen 72% of the time, which tied for second-most effective.

But Internet marketing is about to change, and to understand the change we have to talk about the two competing strategies: trying to get ranked higher on the Google search engine list and participating in social media, helping people to discover your content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and a host of other sites.

We’ve talked about the difference between search engine optimization, or SEO, and social media optimization, or SMO, in a previous blog. That debate continues today and no one really knows for sure if SEO or SMO is more effective, and in fact many are hedging their bets and saying that it requires a combination of both to achieve a synergistic effect.

Conversational Search.

For those who believe in SEO or the synergy of SEO and SMO, you should be aware of a recent change to Google’s algorithm known as Hummingbird, which will make searches more conversational. Being able to handle “conversational search” means it can quickly parse entire questions and complex queries.

According to entrepreneur.com, “Prior to Hummingbird, Google would ignore certain words in search queries. Now Google considers each word in the query to get a better understanding of the intent. The importance of long tail keywords has increased tremendously as a result of Hummingbird.”

The best way to really understand conversational searches is to try them yourself. Apple gives dictation in both their most recent iPhones and most recent Mac operating systems (dictation and speech in system preferences).

Simply find where you can click a button and talk into your device and watch how your searches appear. This is the latest change in the Google search algorithm and will continue to become more important as more people do searches using voice activation on their computers, template sets, and phones.

The most important question however is how you can use this information about the change in the Google algorithm to help get higher in the Google search engine. The answer is most likely in the long tail keywords associated with Google searches.

Long tail keywords use more specific words to target more specific products or services.

Most experts believe that 70% of all searches involve multiple words and are known as long tail searches. For example, instead of saying “inkjet printing” you might search “inkjet production printing for transactional documents”.

My advice is to learn about keywords by looking at other sites that achieve high listings on the Google search engine with organic search. Look also to the Google AdWords page. Once you understand the long tail keywords, you can use that information to embed keywords in blogs, social media posts and webpages.


Howie Fenton is a consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on benchmarking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity, and adding digital and value services through customer research. For more information click here.