19 / January 2016, Matt
Digital marketing at its best always looks forward. Search algorithms change every day, and new online businesses come out even more frequently. We anticipate change, but we always find ourselves reacting to a landscape that changes constantly. Some changes are subtle, so we may only notice their effects over time. If you don’t keep up with those small shifts, you may find yourself missing out entirely on an important trend, and falling behind your competition as a result.
We do not know everything that is coming, and some predictions for the movement of digital marketing will inevitably miss the mark. Still, we can look at some recent changes and emerging trends and identify some important factors to consider as you and your business move into 2016.
Mobile devices have captured more and more search traffic in recent years, and they now account for a majority of search activity. If you are not optimizing your website for performance on smartphones and tablets, you are not only missing out on a huge opportunity. Missing mobile means you will fall behind your more forward-thinking competitors.
When people search on mobile devices, a huge slice of the pie consists of location searches. They want to find a business, by name or by industry. You need to make this easy for them. You can do so by ensuring your name, address, and phone number are displayed at the top of the web page, and that the information is accurate. You also need to ensure that any local listings someone finds online are accurate, so the search engines don’t read the information as unreliable.
In addition, you need to make your content easy to read on smaller screens. Responsive web design can help the view flex to be viewable on multiple devices. In addition, you can break up content into multiple pages, and set up navigation at the top of the screen to ensure your site visitors can move easily from one place to the next.
Building your site with mobile in mind makes your content easier to read when people are looking for you. It also lets them find you easily and helps you connect and grow your base with new customers over time. No SEO strategy can be complete without taking advantage of this direction in search activity.
Within the mobile world, digital assistants have become more prevalent. Siri has moved from new wrinkle to mainstay, and Cortana and other competitive digital assistants have come into play as well. This trend is unlikely to abate in 2016, so you need to plan accordingly.
These systems use natural language much more extensively than search engines do, and they focus on providing quick, direct answers. As such, your digital marketing can benefit from including content that reflects natural speech patterns and provides clear information on questions your customers might want to ask. While keywords still matter, giving the information that people looking for a product or service like yours would want matters more.
Finally, as these programs continue to evolve, it will be important to keep up with changes and advances they make. Your content should already be designed for human readers as much as it is for machine readers. Giving natural language and context that pushes real answers to the top of each page will help you bring your search rankings higher. Anything you can do to help Siri and Cortana find you will increase your chances for success in 2016.
“There’s an app for that.” This slogan dates back a few years, but it has become more true by the moment. In 2016, more online and mobile activity than ever will proceed through apps rather than through search engines and traditional computer programs. The increased in-app traffic can mean terrific new opportunities for your digital marketing campaign if you plan accordingly.
There are two key takeaways for this. First, in-app advertising has become much more effective, and will continue to do so in the coming year. As online advertising becomes more expensive across the board, identifying emerging apps in which to place ads can provide tremendous opportunity to both save on advertising costs and reach audiences that can be both broader and more targeted than you can reach through other forms of online advertising.
Second, you should consider developing apps to integrate into your website. Each time someone uses your apps, you are advertising your own products or services. It helps attract more traffic for your site, and helps your customers more directly engage with you over time. An engaged customer is more likely to be a repeat customer, so your conversions and sales should drive higher as a result.
Apps are not the only area in which you need to expand your digital marketing efforts. With millions of websites in existence, you cannot depend on your site by itself to stand out, however effective your SEO marketing campaign may be. You can use multiple platforms and angles to bring customers to you.
Social media can drive a large volume of traffic for you. You can use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and a growing multitude of other options to reach out and connect to your customer base. When you post relevant content, encourage conversation and interaction, and connect with others in your industry, you give yourself an opportunity to grow not only directly through your customers, but also through their social networks.
No digital marketing effort is complete without a social media component. Still, you should also build out your presence by developing your website, guest blogging with other industry veteran sites, and connecting through as many different kinds of media as possible. Use backlinks judiciously, and make sure the content you post is not only relevant to the people who will view it in your platforms, but also to your business model. No matter where you post your content, it reflects on you, and you need to focus on how you want your potential customers to view you.
When you create content on your website, you need to include images and videos relevant to your content, and index those images and videos properly. While this has always been good practice, search engines are starting to get better at “reading” this kind of content. Metadata and html tags help the process, but in 2016 the media files themselves will be more easily identified by the technology than ever before.
These files should not usually be the focal point of your content, but they are more important to search rankings than ever. In addition, they tend to increase greatly the extent to which virtual assistants identify your page for searchers. As noted above, this kind of search activity will grow extensively in the coming year, so the more you can do to prepare for it, the stronger you can expect your site performance to become.
Finally, with all of the trends and new concepts available, you cannot forget that content represents the bread and butter of any digital marketing campaign. You need to commit to creating new, unique, relevant content for your website throughout the year. Your business experience, your industry expertise, and the growth of your company all contribute ideas that you can use. Current events can also provide fodder for your site content, either through connections to what you do or for analogies you can draw.
In addition, the world is becoming more interactive all the time. Setting up your content to encourage those interactions not only gets your customers involved in your work, but it also provides a mechanism for what search engines read as new content simply through the addition of comments on your site. Your task here becomes one of monitoring and responding, building your search rankings through the act of engaging with your customers.
You can build these engagements directly on your site and through social media links and postings. As you launch into the next year, the more you can do to build out your audience participation, the better your rankings as well as your relationships. When your marketing strategy helps foster that kind of connectedness with your customers, you create powerful synergies that can only help your business.
The importance of recognizing trends can be misunderstood. Many marketing companies try to seize on movements of the moment, constantly either guessing at what will hit big for customers or reacting while pretending to get in front of industry movement. If you approach digital marketing as this kind of gamble, you will eventually lose.
The trends we have identified are better seen not as discrete moments to jump into during the year to come, but rather as directions that the public and search providers are moving. When you take hold of this kind of movement, you are not desperately reaching for the latest thing, but rather moving into the slipstream to more easily move with the world as it grows and evolves.
When you work with 1st in SEO, you will find a company that works to stay on the cutting edge not as a frantic gamble on the Next Big Thing, but rather as a deliberate, continuing strategy to continue to help our clients grow their customer base and connect to the people who want to do business with them. We will help you stay on top of your digital marketing efforts so you can grow over time and find the success that you built your company to achieve.