24 January 2024 |

Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable (i.e. change)

By Tracey Wallace

Gartner’s prediction that organic search traffic to sites will decrease by 50% by 2028 got a lot of critiscism on LinkedIn. And the conversations on LinkedIn among content and SEO folks are pretty divided between if Google will release SGE and why some folks are convinced they never will. 

It doesn’t really matter, though. Google’s SERP algorithm is changing––as it ever does. And even TikTok videos are being pulled into position 0 (example below), an indication that not only is video important for search, but video *anywhere* is important to search, not just on YouTube (Google’s owned property). 

Google pulling a TikTok video into position 0. There is no text on the TikTok video. It seems this content was pulled from a transcript of the copy. 

That says a lot, to me, about how Google is approaching this new world. Their search dominance is on the line. They’ve enjoyed a long run in the #1 spot, and while they’ve always updated their algorithm for the user experience, they did so with Google products in mind––showing YouTube videos prominently, and of course making their ad rev business wildly successful. 

But things are changing for Google, and as a result for the people who have leveraged Google to drive traffic. In many ways, its a welcome change. Producing decently scripted long-form content that just tries to “out-do” the next best competitor is…well… boring. And has led a lot of content marketers burn out, or to leave the career entirely.

Here’s the thing about that Gartner report, though. There was another really big prediction in there folks seem to not be talking about as much: 50% of consumers will significantly limit their social media interactions by 2025. 

Personally, this trend hits home. I’ve weaned myself pretty heavily off posting a ton on social channels––despite so many influencers touting the idea of “ruining your personal brand” when you do so. I’m still working on my doom-scrolling habit, though. 

Typically, content marketing goals center around: impressions & reach, traffic & engagement, and conversion. 

But decreased social activity by our prospects, and decreased organic search traffic directly impact our two top of funnel metrics. 

To be clear, this isn’t necessarily happening. And you shouldn’t stop all of your work on social or for SEO because Gartner says we’ll live in a different marketing world by 2025. 

No, like it has always been in content marketing, you need to plan for short-term and long-term returns. And those long-term returns need to begin building a foundation for your company and your role that can future-proof your program. 

This is about, as Klaviyo says, “getting comfortable being uncomfortable.”

A few things to think about:

  • Your owned audience: An email list is becoming more and more important in a cookie-less world, and a world in which social and organic potentially drive less eyeballs. Building your newsletter list––not just your nurture list––and ensuring engagement with that list will be wildly important. 
  • Different content formats––particularly video: Video content marketing has been part of some of the best and fastest growing content marketing strategies for a while now. But it can be expensive, and not every content person wants to be the face or their company. But video’s repurposing opportunities are high, leveraging it on YouTube diversifies your SEO channels, leveraging on your site can drive more engagement, and its the content type folks are most interacting with across their preferred channels. We all have to find ways to convince our teams that this is an investment we need to make ASAP––and help figure out how to differentiate it, so that we aren’t all just producing talking head videos we post on LinkedIn. That’s not a strategy. 

Network sharing: The types of content I most love are typically really really obscure––and are shared in private Slack channels, in group texts, or just mentioned among friends or colleagues. This is how ideas and content have already been shared, of course. Between us, in casual moments, when we can’t get something off our mind or when a topic comes up and we remember this related thing. Are you producing content that can be that thing? How do you optimize for network sharing? Is it research and a fantastic story that brings the data to life? Is it a video so creative folks couldn’t look away? Is it a new feature your company is demoing that takes people’s breath away? What is it that will get the people talking––not necessarily on social media, but within their circles and spheres of influence? This requires conversation with your customers. This requires research and trial & error. It also requires creativity and boldness, and of course the ability to get your internal team on board. No easy feat, but a worthy one.