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Kung-Fu Panda Strikes Brands

Tai Lung: Who are you?
Po: Buddy, I... am the Dragon Warrior!
Tai Lung : [incredulous] You? He's a panda! You're a panda! What are you gonna do, big guy? Sit on me?
Po :Don't tempt me.

If you are a digital marketer, you may have met these two creatures over these last few months. They weren't too friendly from what I hear, and were way too judgmental of your digital practice. “Lost” was the primary keyword (pun intended) that followed them around - accounts were lost, tempers lost and a bit of revenue lost here and there.

I refer to the Panda and the Penguin - the Internet's two current best friends. Before they came about, the standard SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) joke went like this - “An SEO expert walks into a bar, bars, beer garden, hangout, lounge, night club, mini bar, bar stool, tavern, pub, beer, wine, whiskey...”

Not many are laughing now. And that is probably a good thing.

What's Panda? And who the hell is this Penguin? These two Google updates have transformed the way content is indexed and categorised across the Internet today. And they are coming back for more. While I will not bore you with the details – there's Wikipedia for that and considering that in all probability you already know (or have experienced) the impact these two creatures brought about, allow me to jump directly to what you, as a marketer, can learn from it.


The next steps, so to speak, which in my opinion are pretty awesome as far as a general cleanup of SEO  are concerned. I have tried to keep it simple and well, the Kung-Fu Panda quotes are included in the spirit of digital awesomeness. Plus they are quite apt in the scheme of things.

Po: I know you're trying to be all mystical and Kung Fu-ey, but could you tell me where we're going?

Focus on Intent

You may have laughed at that joke earlier. Now sober up. The skill is not in dreaming, imagining, crafting and google-ing every possible keyword and its ancestors to suit your product or service. You now need to start paying attention to the visitor's intent. Take running shoes for example - someone who is searching for diets and more, is probably keen on jogging. It really is as simple as that. My advice - paying more attention to contextual search trends was always a good practice. Now add to that a thorough trend understanding of your paid search's performance.

Mr. Ping: We are noodle folk. Broth runs through our veins.

Change The Process

Marketers tend to keep SEO separate from design - and that can now be their undoing. If someone lands on your site, and doesn't find it worthwhile (bounces off quickly), your ranks are going south, Sir, avoid keyword clogging and duplication. Don't sell perfumes on the blog page. Tell, instead. They come on the blog to read, not buy! The idea is to make sure that every visit is worthwhile for the visitors, and he/she has good reasons to spend time on the site.

Oogway: One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.

Go Responsive

So WAP (Wireless Activation Protocol) was always an afterthought, eh? A simple HTML   (Hyper Text Markup Language) landing page of sorts, perhaps? Without getting into the details of the mobile revolution (You surely are aware already. I hope.), let me suggest another keyword - Responsive. If you are planning on building a new website or revamping your current, choose an approach (and an agency) that includes responsive design. It allows your website to become platform agnostic AND user friendly at the same time. You save money, users love you more - you couldn't have asked for more! More importantly, don't let anyone tell you that it can only be done via HTML5 (and consequently, expensive resources). Any clever HTML & CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) expert can get things started for you.

Tai Lung: Shifu taught you well. [disables Monkey with a nerve strike] But he didn't teach you everything.

Create Compelling Content
You may wish to reconsider that agency with a factory full of SEO content writers. Search engines will like you if you write content that is relevant, compelling and most importantly, if your visitors like what they read. Not just that, the engines demand that your content is not only highly creative, but also highly share-able. Quite democratic, don't you think? Finally our world has a fighting chance to breathe easier and move away from the scrouge of keyword hunters. There is more trouble for those who thought it was really clever to create multiple blogs (Wordpress, Blogger, self hosted et al) and serial-dump corporate content, copy-paste web content et al. The search engines not only expect your blog to be original, they want to see that you are driving actual conversations. Same applies to PR content. Those random bulk submissions won't help anymore. Real-PR is all that would matter and it better be newsworthy and legitimate. Creativity is key in all content related matters.

In these days of authorship and original content, consider hiring “copywriters” instead of content writers.

Tai Lung: You can't defeat me! You... you're just a big... fat... panda!

Po: I'm not a big fat panda. I'm THE big fat panda.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

Google has a plan, and not a good one, for all those who actively pursued black-hat SEO techniques, cookie-stuffing and more such nonsense in the past. Neither does it encourage any more of that domain-selection, exact-match, anchor-text business. Search engines today want to determine your page communication as well as social signals. Are you telling the truth? Do visitors agree with what you're saying? Are you an active part of their conversation? Is your twitter an auto-post graveyard or are you really encouraging conversations? Do you think Social = Facebook?
Going forward, consider an “Emerging Media” strategy instead of a “Social Media” strategy. You will have a better chance of “flowing” along with your customer base. Plus your agency won't change you extra for yet another social-media platform management.

Po: He was so deadly, in fact, that his enemies would go blind from over-exposure to pure awesomeness!

At the end of the day, Google is only asking you to consider better and relevant digital marketing. And while you are at it, you may also want to rejig your 2013 hiring strategy. Bring in a social media expert if you haven't brought one in already. Consider hiring creative copywriters as well as designers who can help with high-share content elements like infographics. SEO is now a multi-disciplinary approach that requires brands to step out of those sweat shops and consider branded, relevant content that's interesting.

Disclaimer - This is a generalist opinion and not a technical guide. You should trust an enlightened agency for that - and that is my *shameless plug*!


Edited by Ankit Bhatnagar

The views expressed here are of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of afaqs! Campus



Kamal

Kamal Krishna

Kamal Krishna is managing director of POSSIBLE (www.possible.com). Prior to this, he headed marketing at beStylish.com. In the past, Kamal founded Squad Digital, first digital agency of WPP in Africa. He was earlier the National Creative Director at Quasar (WPP) and a part of the launch team at Digitas (Publicis Groupe).

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