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How to Power SEO and Content for Brand-Building in 2018, and Google’s AI-Driven Marketing Roadmap

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Omar Saghir heads the SEO and Content Marketing division at CBO, a Google Premier Partner agency in Sydney, Australia. He works with Adobe’s Business Catalyst division and other large brands to create enterprise digital campaigns. He discusses digital strategies to succeed in 2018, as well as Google’s roadmap for the future of online advertising and data-driven marketing.

Q: Give us insight into your role as a digital marketing professional, and the types of clients you work with.

A: I lead the SEO and Content Marketing division at Complete Business Online, and we work with enterprise customers that operate on a multi-location, franchised model with national presence. My portfolio covers about 193 franchise partners nested under 5 large brands, including a globally renown car manufacturer and Australia’s largest network of skin care clinics.

Customers today want brand interaction in a multi-device, multi-channel way, and we as an agency enable that for the customer, feeding into client objectives such as branding or lead generation.

I’m also used to attending various Google events and trainings throughout the year, or working with Adobe’s Business Catalyst division on content marketing as a partner.

Q: With 2018 right around the corner, how can businesses gain from SEO investments?

A: I like to work this from Google’s perspective, because that’s where the digital battles play out for new leads or driving business growth. One important change coming about is “Mobile First Indexing.” With more searches now being done on mobile devices instead of desktop, that’s where search engine attention lies.

Being a Google Mobile Sites-certified professional, my focus is to get clients ready for this with Accelerate Mobile Pages (AMP), and the more advanced technical strategies such as Progressive Web Apps. The goal is to deliver faster and more engaging experiences on mobile devices, even if the user is on a slow network.

Another important area is natural link building, which today is the inter-play of SEO, PR, and Influencer Engagement. Most of our clients have national, as well as distributed local presence across Australia through franchise networks. We identify high-authority websites and influencers in the client’s industry, and then use content placement to drive links back. It’s been paying off massively with clients ranking on the first page for high-competition keywords.

Q: How Would You Define Content Marketing that Translates into Real Business Results?
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A: A productive content strategy will achieve two things. One, let customers know why you are the leader in your niche and connect to their needs. Secondly, be validated through user-generated content and social proof. Give them a chance to talk about their experience with your business or product. For a major car brand, we’ve integrated social media right on the font page. Every site visitor is immediately able to see social proof from satisfied customers.

The work we do with Adobe’s Business Catalyst division is a perfect example of this. Business Catalyst is Adobe’s CMS that combines important digital marketing elements into one: Web Development, CRM, Email Marketing, and Analytics.

As a partner, I write content for their blog which is derived from actual experiences and how we’ve been able to engineer multi-channel digital campaigns for large brands from one system. It validates things from a user perspective, and creates win-win situations for us, Adobe, as well as the end-user of the system.

Q: Are There Going to Be Any Major Disruptions to the Digital Marketing Industry in 2018?

A: Yes, 2018 might just be a major turning point. If there’s one theme that has been constant in all the Google events that I’ve attended this year, including the Sydney Masterclass 2017, it’s about artificial intelligence and machine learning. The message is clear: embrace AI and machine learning because it’s going to power everything from online advertising and PPC, to organic search engine results on a deeper, algorithmic level.

An example was shown at Google Marketing Next 2017. Three different users searched for something common like “cheap flights”, but were served a different ad from the same advertiser. The difference was not owing to anything that an advertiser can control, like bid adjustments, but artificial intelligence in Google AdWords that can predict each user’s individual preference based on a persona detected from the user’s online journey.

Overall, it’s exciting times for the digital marketing industry that sits at the junction of commerce, brands, and users worldwide.

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