“. . . Millennials perceive strong SEO to be a requirement for any company they do business with. They have grown up with the Internet and Google their whole lives, the first generation to do so, and finding a piece of information online has become second nature.”
– Arya Bina, founder and CEO of Kobe Digital
Millennials have been one of the most controversial generations in recent history; most people love them or find them terribly unsavory. Either way, as a business owner or marketer, you need them.
This group of young adults is now the largest generation to occupy the United States and, according to an October 2015 Nielsen report, is already spending upward of $200 billion per year; much of which is dispensed online. More importantly, however, is that this figure is poised to grow as the generation continues to mature.
As the buying power of these web-savvy individuals continues to grow, it will become increasingly important that your business captures their attention online. And the best way to do that is through search engine optimization.
Despite the many, many changes to Google’s ranking algorithms over the years, SEO is still one of the most effective methods of reaching a target audience. It has evolved past loading up webpages with keywords and backlinks and, in turn, provided a more sophisticated user experience. Considering that Millennials were a generation born into search engines, social media, other technological marvels, and that roughly 90 percent of all online journeys begin on Google, it is safe to say that SEO is your best bet of grabbing those millennial dollars.
Here is how you can focus your SEO blueprint to reach the Internet generation.
Search versus Social
Social media is home to a massive chunk of Millennials; there is a sizable portion of the group that does not know a world without it. For this reason, many marketers believe that when it comes to reaching younger generations, social media is a homerun.
While this notion certainly isn’t false, as running a social marketing campaign is a powerful way to generate awareness and engagement among Millennials, it isn’t wholly accurate either.
For brands that are launching a product or service to a new demographic, like Millennials, search engines are the proper tool for boosting visibility to that group. If it is Gen Y conversions that you are after, SEO is going to convert at a much higher rate than social; 61 percent of local searches lead to a sale and 70 percent of mobile callers are ready to buy.
This information, however, comes with a caveat. With the recent news that all the biggest players are no longer courting Twitter, including Google, social is currently not as effective for sales as SEO, and this likely will not change any time soon. But don’t let that stop you from using social as a foundational element to connecting with the younger generations. Just don’t ever let it replace your SEO focuses; you need both to succeed.
It is important that while you maintain a significant social presence, you are focusing on SEO and incorporating those tenants into your social strategy.
Content for the Constantly Connected
The majority of Millennials grew up using technology, so crafting SEO optimized content for this crowd presents a unique set of (achievable) challenges.
When it comes to engaging Millennials, these folks must be entertained. They prefer content that integrates wit, humor, and impeccable storytelling. Content created for Millennials also needs to reflect their cultural values and generational spirit in order to truly hit home.
More than just a resonant narrative, however, Millennials are highly influenced by content that proves its worth in the form of demonstrations and consumer input. According to a Walker Sands Communications study, the most persuasive content includes product demos (52 percent), case studies (47 percent), and online reviews (43 percent).
Product demos are vital because they incorporate a visual presentation. As you are probably aware, visual content (like videos) are currently taking over the Web. Case studies appeal to young consumers because they show how products resolve consumer problems. And online reviews are critical because they provide social proof to back up the claims of the aforementioned content.
As far as SEO is concerned, search engines highly value reviews for one single reason; consumers value reviews. According to last year’s Local Search Ranking Factors survey conducted by Moz, it was estimated that online reviews make up 10 percent of how Google and other engines determine ranking.
Fortunately, businesses can leverage tools like Yotpo to help gain honest reviews from consumers at an incredible rate.
If you want to reach the millennial audience, you have to be optimizing the right kind of content.
The Mobile Millennial
If Millennials are going to find your website through a search engine, chances are that it will be on a mobile device. This generation is notorious for their deep attachment to their Smartphones. Because of their affinity to smaller screened gadgets, there has been a massive drop-off in desktop usage, as reported by comScore. The analytics firm displayed that in December 2015, desktop internet usage was down 9.5 percent when compared to 2014. Come January 2016, desktop usage was down by 7.6 percent. Then trend continued to follow suit through March.
What may be more shocking and significant, however, is that 21 percent of 18 – 34 year old Millennials do not use desktop computers at all anymore. In stark contrast, 97 percent of these youngsters tout a mobile device. This means that in order to gain a Millennial’s attention, you will need to pour the majority of your resources into optimizing for the mobile SERPs above all else.
SEO is a foundational practice to help reach the millennial generation online. While the discipline continues to be drastically altered, it is not going anywhere anytime soon. In order to gain the eyeballs of Millennials, you need to think like a millennial and play on their turf. Then, and only then, might they give your brand the time of day it genuinely deserves.
What other methods do you use to try and reach Millennials online?