How To Prepare Your Marketing Team for the Paradigm Shift in Non-Organic Blog Traffic

Search engine changes are shaking up non-organic traffic. Find out how to get your team ready for them.

Published on Jan 31, 2024

They just don’t make search engines like they used to. And that’s a good thing for us marketers. Changes to the algorithms and the introduction of generative AI mean that a TikTok or a 45-minute Youtube video can now show up alongside organic traffic. Content can be repurposed and remixed to (re)appear before audiences like never before.

These changes pose big shifts in how we approach organic and non-organic traffic acquisition as well as how content is distributed. My team and I wanted to learn more about how the non-organic side of things — social media, email, ads, affiliates — is changing. What opportunities might there be to boost non-organic traffic’s impact down the funnel? What can experienced marketers and teams do to stay ahead in 2024 as this landscape continues to evolve? And what roadblocks might they expect to hit along the way?

Basha Coleman, Hubspot’s principal marketing manager of blog audience development wearing a green shirt smiling at the camera.
Basha Coleman

To find out, I spoke with Basha Coleman, Hubspot’s principal marketing manager of blog audience development who leads the strategy for non-organic traffic to HubSpot's blog. 

Coleman had a lot say:

  • The marketing field has been reset. Marketers need to go back to the basics, the foundational principles of the field, and start experimenting more to make the most of the shift in non-organic traffic.
  • Aggregating the data from non-organic sources is going to be tough but there’s still plenty of room for strategy and making educated guesses. 
  • Repurposing existing content for different channels is going to be huge and you’re probably not doing it enough.

There’s a lot more great insight where that came from. Read on to get the full scoop.


What’s your outlook on non-organic traffic acquisition and distribution today?

I know that sounds cliche but going forward, non-organic is going to be really important. A lot of folks think SEO is going to solve all their problems, or at least they thought that in the past, and it's been true to a certain extent. But you don't want to be beholden to one traffic source. So having different channels and diversifying your traffic sources is going to be really big. 

We're already starting to see that now with social media not acting as social media anymore. TikTok acts as a search engine. Aggregate sources like Google News and Apple News are serving up content that people want to see where they don't have to search anymore. I think that's going to be a trend with non-organic and we'll see how it plays out.

What’s a major challenge in this new era of non-organic traffic?

Attribution. It’s going to be having a bucket of traffic but having no idea where it came from and figuring out whether it came from TikTok, Reddit, someone sharing it via email, in a text message, or somewhere else. 

So how do you know what's going to work from a non-organic perspective? It's the wild west right now since organic has been king for a lot of marketers. 

If you're not very clear on your UTMs or your Google Analytics account is not tip top shape, your data is just going to get thrown everywhere. We're all figuring it out. I definitely recommend getting your hands dirty in the data because that's where you're going to find your answers. But you're going to have to dig.

What's your approach to reeling in the stampede of non-organic sources data?

We look at the holistic picture of how our content is performing but non-organic traffic sources are the wild west and right now we don't have any major ways to track that.

Direct traffic, for example, is one of those non-organic sources. It tends to be a dumping ground for everything that Google Analytics or whatever platform you're using can't identify. So drilling down into that is going to be difficult. But the good thing is, as you start to get good at generating traffic from non-organic in general, you can decide if one channel is outperforming another. You can start to treat that channel a little differently while trying to grow the other ones. So we'll see how things play out. Since we don't have any major ways to track that, we're just looking at the share of non-organic traffic we’re going after and figuring it out from there.

But just because we don't know the data doesn't mean we're not finding information. So that's where the experiments come into play — finding a baseline through experimentation. Making educated guesses, asking really good questions, and staying curious means we're not spinning our wheels trying to figure out how to grow traffic from non-organic sources. We'll see the forest through the trees, but it's just going to take a little bit of time.

Sign up for our upcoming webinar — The Paradigm Shift in SEO: How Marketers Can Prepare — to learn even more!

Do you see the Google Perspectives impacting non-organic traffic? 

I definitely think it’s only going to benefit people who publish online because Google Perspectives is going to be beside the traditional SERP. So the more that you can feed into both, the more it will benefit you. Then Google is aggregating these other channels. You'll see your TikToks on Google Perspectives but also on TikTok. So it only benefits you to have short-form video that helps promote blog posts or any other content that you want to get out there. So I think Perspectives is going to be a good thing. 

But again, it’s all up in the air. You never know what curveballs are going to come. 2023 was a year of a lot of curveballs. But I think creating good content, no matter what form it is, is always going to be king. And Google will catch up with that from an SEO perspective.

What other non-organic opportunities do you see in the wake of Perspectives and evolved SEO?

I see opportunities for marketing teams to expand their brand personas because they're starting to get new eyeballs from different channels that you never would have gotten before. 

You have to expand your personas to speak to different audiences. Maybe some TikTok users came over from a really good piece of content that you made, but they're not looking at anything else. Or maybe you're not getting more hits from TikTok to a target piece of content. That might mean you need to expand your persona to look at what those users want to see and bring it to them. I think this is one of the biggest opportunities that marketers can start to look at.

[.blog-quote]“Repurposing content across channels is going to be huge. I don’t think a lot of teams do that.”[.blog-quote]

What tactics are you using to stay ahead in this changing landscape?

Experiments. That's gotten me really far at HubSpot. Put an experiment together, find the data, and see what story it tells. Maybe it disproves a hypothesis or proves one 10 times over. 

Marketers will need to think very experimentally because you're starting from net zero. AI has never happened before. These changes have never happened before. You can't look for industry standards because there aren’t any yet. You have to make one for your business or your brand. 

Google could roll back Perspectives and Search Generative Experience if they realize people aren't responding well to it. Or maybe SGE and perspectives are here to stay. We don't know. The only thing we can do is ride the wave and think critically. There are no rules. We get to just try things and that’s the fun part.

Is your strategy being affected by gen AI at all? 

We use AI in our work for research, creating outlines, brainstorming, and generally helping us to move faster. Data analysis is one of my favorite ways to use it. I had a massive spreadsheet and something was broken in one of my formulas that I couldn't figure out. So I asked ChatGPT and it fixed it. It would have taken me hours to fix it because it was so huge. But that's one way I can work faster rather than having to rely on my own manpower to fix some of those tedious things.

How AI plays into the SERP is a developing situation. My advice is to check how your keyword rankings are being impacted since some of the first Google algorithm updates last year, especially if you haven't made any changes to a post. See if there is an AI snippet that pops up and if so, use your keyword tool to see how often or how long that snippet has been there. If you lost traffic for seemingly no reason but this AI snippet popped up, that could be why.

Do you have any other tips on navigating this new landscape of non-organic traffic and user acquisition?

My biggest piece of advice is to go back to the basics. I mean literally the textbook basics of what marketing is: generating demand, driving conversions, and driving value to the business with a goal. Take SEO and the blog out of your mind and think, “If my goal is to sell this product, how do I work backwards from that?” I guarantee you'll find new ideas and new opportunities that you've probably ignored because you're so focused on doing the things that you've gotten really good at. From there you can niche back down if you want to.

I had to do this and it’s scary. But now I can say I’m a full-funnel marketer again and I think everyone can benefit from doing that.

This is like a rebirth of true marketing but the fundamentals don't change. Marketing will always work. AI is not going to replace it. I will never be convinced that a robot could convince me to buy a plane ticket. I'm going to look at Reddit or the HubSpot blog on the economics of airlines to see what ticket I need to buy. A robot can't tell me that.

What role does community play in a non-organic distribution strategy? 

When I hear “community,” I immediately think of reach, which relates to growing the audience to, in theory, grow conversions and grow the business. Having those conversations are great, but you have to know what purpose your reach is serving. 

So if you want to increase likes and shares on social, just know that that might be the end goal. Don't go to social media trying to drive conversions unless you're opening an Instagram shop or a TikTok shop. And if you're in a SaaS business, I don't think that's going to be the route for you. Every channel serves a different purpose. Set realistic expectations for each one. Don't over rely on one expecting it to be something else. Don't try to turn Facebook into Twitter/X.

Community is important, but just know that community may not necessarily translate into revenue right away. It will over time because it's a brand play, but just be realistic about that.

What are some of the most important parts of content distribution for you? 

Repurpose content for every channel you want to distribute on. How can you repurpose that one topic across different channels? See if you can do that not just in text but in short-form video, long-form, in text on social, and a question on Reddit. 

It doesn't mean turn your long-form video into a transcript then post it on your blog; that's not repurposing. It's generating a conversation around that topic based on the channel you're on. If your blog post is about the economics of airline tickets in 2024, do a TikTok talking about that topic. Do the same thing for Instagram with a link-in-bio to get people back to the post, the landing page, or whatever it is you want to convert them on. But repurposing content across channels is going to be huge. I don’t think a lot of teams do that — if they do, there are big rewards on the other side. 

Meet The Author:

Alton Zenon III

Alton Zenon III

Jasper Content Marketing Manager
All Things AI
Marketing Strategy
Writing & Editing

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