Welcome to The Zero Moment of Truth

Search Engines are the “go-to” destination for almost every question we have these days. They have become our source of general knowledge, entertainment, purchase information and celebrity gossip. The Zero Moment of Truth, a term coined by Google in 2011, refers to the research which is conducted online about a product, organisation or service before taking any action. It’s this zero moment that drives the discovery of our businesses; it’s the single moment that we need to learn to leverage to build personal and business reputation.

Leveraging this moment has a lot to do with understanding search engine optimisation (SEO), content marketing and online advertising channels to meet potential customers when they discover the need you can fulfil. It comes without saying that managing a robust online reputation means that you need to be able to meet your customers at that zero moment. SEO then becomes one of your primary digital marketing activities.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the fundamental art of setting up your online presence so that Google showcases you as a highly relevant result when a customer conducts an online search around your chosen topics of interest.

When Google views your content as relevant, it ranks you correctly in search results, driving more organic, relevant traffic to your website and online channels.

How Search Engines Work

Search engines have two primary functions:

  1. Search engines use automated software, known as robots (or spiders), to follow links on websites, collecting information and storing it in an extensive database
  2. When someone submits a query to a search engine, the search engine cross-checks the provided keywords against their index and presents ranked results according to what they deem the most relevant.

Algorithms are the recipes that search engines use to rank the content, and every search engine keeps their algorithm a tight secret. Search engines crawl your website by comparing your website’s content against the various recipes within their algorithm. Algorithms determine which websites to crawl; how often they are crawled and how many pages are fetched from each site.

The key to success in SEO is understanding the relationship between search engine algorithms and your website.

Relevance, Referral and Recent

The key to excellent search engine reputation is relevant content, that is recent and referred to by other web properties.

When developing your website content, bear these elements in mind. Focus first on creating relevant content for your customers. You can do this by understanding your searchers intent. Understanding your searchers intent will help you develop a list of keywords where you hope to become relevant.

A keyword can be either a single word or an entire phrase. “Shoe” is a keyword, but so is “online shoe store”. While ranking on the first page of a Google search for the query “shoe” would generate high volumes of traffic, this is a highly competitive space – and there are many different reasons why a user would search for that specific term. Conversely, ranking for the phrase “online shoe store” will send users to your website who are looking to purchase shoes online – making this an ideal keyword for an e-commerce platform.

Because of this behaviour, keyword strategy comes down to understanding your users and their search intentions.

•       Navigational users are people who are looking for webpages they know already exist. For example, the queries “Twitter login” and “Takealot kitchen deals” are both navigational queries.

•       Informational users are people who are looking for insight into products or services. “Top hotels in Durban” would be an example of this.

•       Commercial users have the intention of making a purchase and looking for the best place to do so. “Book Durban flights” and “online shoe stores” are examples of queries with commercial intent.

Now your job is simple, create content that is relevant to the list of keywords you believe your customers will be searching.

Once your content is created, its relevant nature should draw attention from web users who will link to it, share it on social networks and talk about it on their websites. This is the referral element coming to play. The more people link to your content, the better. Think of every link as a vote of confidence in your content and business. Google will access the relevancy of your content, and then it will look at the number of links coming to your content. The more referral and relevance the higher in the rankings you’ll be placed.

Finally, no-one likes an out of date website, and Google feels the same. To the point that they won’t send people to websites that are out of date – why, because they are less relevant than up-to-date sites. In this case, we look to making sure we keep creating a consistent stream of great content.

In conclusion, while SEO is an incredibly technical skillset, we can understand how to create content in a simple fashion that helps you gain traction in search engines to manage and improve your online reputation. If nothing else remember –  Relevance, Referral and Recent.

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