Robots are the gatekeepers to your customers

Effective digital marketing means not just appealing to users, but working with software and algorithms as well. Columnist Justin Dunham explains how you can use this new reality to your advantage.

robots-txt-automation1-ss-1920I have bad news for anyone trying to market to me.

There’s a high probability I don’t see your emails. You might have the perfect solution for a problem I didn’t even know I had. But you’re probably ending up in the Promotions tab in my inbox, which I never check.

All the money you spend on search ads for your small business accounting software? It’s targeted at keywords I don’t actually search on. Your organic content doesn’t show up, either.

When I ask Siri to recommend a great pizza place nearby, her database only has your address way out in Beaverton, not the one next to my office. So I will never taste your delicious Neapolitan slice.

And I didn’t install your email app because the App Store listed it below 10 other apps that do the same thing.

Digital marketing is difficult! That’s because robots — algorithms, mostly — are now the gatekeepers to your customers.

Is there any good news? Yes. Marketers who can work with our new robot overlords will be far more effective than they’ve ever been.

Robots are the gatekeepers to your customers

Depending on the estimate, organic search drives somewhere between 50 to 65 percent of all website traffic. When your customer has a problem, their first step in solving it, in many cases, is to Google it.

For example, if I’m interested in buying a paisley pocket square:

  1. I open
  2. I type in “paisley pocket square.”
  3. Google ranks the trillions of pages in its index according to relevance and displays the result.

As a purveyor of paisley pocket squares, I care the most about step 3. That’s where Google’s algorithms make a decision about whether anyone will see my site, which will have a direct effect on my revenue.

As a result, content marketers and SEO specialists spend a lot of time trying to understand Google’s algorithms. Hundreds of articles have been written about them for Search Engine Land and other publications, not to mention formal studies done by Moz and others. Moz will even show you a history of algorithm updates, together with its historical view of your search visibility.


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