inbound marketing, google now

Last week, following the news that Google Now functionality may be coming to Google.com, I asked if Google Now would become the Holy Grail for inbound marketers. To sum up, I think it will. The thought of having your brand appear before a prospect has started searching has too much potential to ignore.

The next question is a tough one, what can we do about it?

Google rarely provides a lot of detail on how it’s algorithms work. We get broad nudges, like ‘write great content’ or ‘create user friendly layouts’, without a clear understanding of what that means to Google’s crawlers.

In Google Now’s case, we know that the contextual search methods use search history, location, time of day and other factors to find the most relevant content. That’s not a lot to go on.  But there are some important pieces of learning for marketers.

Get On Google+ Local

First and foremost, you need to get on Google+ and get your location set up correctly. Google has used location to dictate search results for a while, but with the mobile element of Google Now, and the data it captures on an ongoing basis, that’s going to get more and more accurate. If you want Google Now to find your brand for your prospects, you need to tell Google where you are.

Think About Your Keyword Strategy

Stuffing your content full of long-tail keywords is becoming an increasingly outdated inbound marketing practice, but keywords are still important. The question is; how does Google Now define search keywords based on previous results. If it uses an amalgamation of multiple searches on the same topic, should we start to build multiple long-tails around a single keyword? Rather than seeking to access a lot of search traffic by targeting a variety of long-tail keywords?

Plan Your PPC Budget

Pay per click ads will also be important here. As much as Google talks about finding the most relevant content, it is possible to pay your way to the top of the results. PPC is a huge revenue stream for Google, so it follows that PPC will influence Google Now in the same way it influences search results. It may simply be a matter of re-assessing your keyword strategy.

Create News

‘Newsjacking’ is one of the more controversial inbound marketing tactics, but it is effective. As long as you have something relevant to say, newsjacking can be really useful in raising your brand’s profile. And it might help with Google Now too. Google Now’s News Update card provides users with news articles on topics relevant to their activity. You may be able to access this card by creating your own news, or adding comment to current events.

Keep Creating Great Content

Ultimately, Google Now is just Google with a few more bells and whistles. It’s overriding influence will be its desire to find the most relevant, useful and user-friendly content. Meaning brands that already use an effective inbound marketing strategy are best placed to get onto those magic cards.

Don’t Just Try To Game It, Learn From It

Finally, let’s take a step back. Google Now may also be providing us with a glimpse into the future of online interaction. What makes this system so interesting is the simplicity of it. All you do is live your life, use Google as normal, research topics, buy tickets and drive to work; Google Now takes that natural information and uses it to give you things you want.

Inbound marketing follows a lot of those principles, and we get a lot of information on our prospects activity. Is there a way we could use that information to make our online presences more useful? Or more accessible? The real question may not be, ‘how can we use Google Now for inbound marketing?’ It may be ‘what can we learn from it?’

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