Search Has Dominated Social Since 2017
For anyone serious about content marketing in 2020, Google needs to be an absolute priority.
If not the top priority, for many.
Social channels drive minuscule unpaid web traffic for most organisations, with organic search dominating and driving around 50% for small businesses.
Nowadays, social channels are considered more branding mechanisms than traffic sources. Especially on the unpaid side of things. Although its consistent erosion is gradually undermining even this aspect.
For unpaid website traffic, and even increasingly unpaid brand awareness, Google offers lower hanging fruit and less erratic performance.
Organic search marketing has changed a lot within the past two – three years, so the modes and avenues for potential capitalisation are far more varied.
One untapped pocket for many content marketers is Google News.
Google News’ Growing Content Opportunities
Google News has been a decent traffic referral source for some time.
It is also pretty flexible around whom it includes, provided content producers meet Google’s content policies.
Ranking in Google News is determined algorithmically by these factors:
- Relevance of content
For smart content marketers, Google News will offer even greater upside in 2020, following its recent redesign and revamp, as Google repositions itself as a portal in the coming years.
Generally, when people search for news, they see two top stories and a horizontal, scrolling carousel of results (AMP pages), as per the image on the left above.
However, Google is in the process of rolling out a more prominent and sticky update to Google News to keep users locked into search results for longer.
Duncan Osborn, Product Manager, Google Search
“Now, when there are multiple stories related to your search, we’ll also organize the results by story so it’s easier to understand what’s most relevant and you can make a more informed decision on which specific articles to explore.
Within each story, the new structure will make more room for high-quality content–beyond just the most recent coverage–as well as more diverse sources, to bring more context and perspective to the day’s news.”
Graphically, this will make search engine results look more akin to social news feeds. With Google News clustering topics and story content as carousels stacked on top of one another (See image above on the right).
“Our research has shown that clustering results into clearly-defined stories is critical in helping people easily navigate the results and identify the best content for their needs.”
Content Diversity & Machine Learning In Action
Google’s new focus on the diversity of sources should also create interesting opportunities for content producing brands and organisations.
Alongside news stories, Google will also feature key information, such as notable quotes and related opinion pieces, in the top stories carousel within Search.
“These different content types provide people a more well-rounded view of a news story to help them decide which angle to explore more deeply. This change is part of a longer-term effort to expand the types of journalistic contributions we highlight to users in Search.”
To power this shift, Google has developed a new story-understanding technology to map the people, places and things involved in a news story, and then draw connections between them.
This technology draws upon Google's ground-breaking BERT update, announced in late 2019. BERT’s natural language processing power enables Google to examine related articles and determine where one story ends, and another begins.
They’re a bit smart, aren’t they.
It is not hard to imagine Google drawing in related and supporting video from YouTube, imagery from Google Images and audio content from Google Podcasts, in time.
With social marketing dominated by advertising and community management, Google could well end up the new home of content marketing in 2020.