With online marketing trends changing every week, it's never too early to start planning for the New Year. Check out these 5 steps you can take to stay relevant and stand out online in 2014.
As the end of the year draws closer, trends in online marketing and SEO have been rapidly changing. In fact, it’s been a pretty exhausting 2013 so far. Just look at this short list of online marketing-related headlines that have come out in the last few months:
- Google Launches Hummingbird Algorithm Update
- Twitter Announces IPO
- Instagram Adds Video Functionality
- AdWords Enhanced Campaigns Go Live for Everyone
With a crazy year almost in the books, how should you prepare for the onslaught of 2014? To get you started, here are five things you should definitely be doing to stay on the up and up.
1. Modify Your Analytics Strategy
A few years ago, Google Analytics users were first introduced to “keyword (not provided).” This meant that some previously available organic keyword data disappeared virtually overnight. Over the last couple of years more and more keyword data disappeared from Google Analytics and became (not provided).
In their latest update, Google removed all organic keyword data leaving web analytics folks in the dark. If you we’re relying on these metrics to improve your website, you’ll have to change things up. Instead, focus on measuring keyword rankings (antiquated, I know) or landing page traffic to report on SEO.
2. Embrace Mobile (100% This Time)
A lot of digital marketing folks (myself included) used to have fun catchphrases like "businesses and organizations who haven’t gone mobile are going to get left behind." Well, I have some bad news. Today’s the day. We have reached the point of no return. If you’re site isn’t mobile friendly or you don’t have a mobile strategy in place, you’re pretty much done-zo.
In 2014, the web will be dominated by responsive, mobile friendly design and development. Currently, about 99.8% of sites are utilizing this technology. The bad news: Google wants 100% of sites to be responsive, and may start demoting those that aren’t. Plus, mobile web traffic is expected to finally surpass desktop browsing in 2014. It’s time to make the switch.
3. Evaluate and Expand Social Media
If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve already been told to get active on social media, and over the last few years, you've probably been pointed to the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Over the last year, the popularity of these channels has led to the rapid growth of several other options for social media marketing.
Here are a few networks to think about in the next year:
- Google+ should be a social media and SEO requirement in 2014. It’s not official (yet), but research shows that +1’s on your G+ profile directly influence keyword rankings in Google.
- Instagram and other visual social media are the hot topic in web marketing right now. If you’re extra creative, and have the resources, try Instagram video and Vine.
- Local profiles like Google+ Local, Bing Local, and Yelp are extremely necessary for businesses that compete for local, service oriented keywords. (i.e. San Diego Plumber, Dallas Electrician) Hot Tip: Use a tool like getlisted.org to find some local citation opportunities.
4. Re-Think Content Marketing
In the next year, content will not give up its position as king, but the way people consume content will continue to evolve. Of course, you should always refine your content strategy based on your industry trends and your users’ interests. If you’re not already using them, try adding these types of content in the New Year:
- Long-form, evergreen content: Start by identifying questions your users will never stop asking and create articles that gives them an answer. Evergreen content never stops being relevant and typically performs well in search engines.
- Videos: Creating videos can require a ton of resources, but they can be an extremely powerful tool for improving your site’s conversion rate. In fact, 52% of users say online video influences their purchasing behavior. (Source)
- Visual content: If want to see the power of images online, look at the massive popularity of BuzzFeed and Pinterest (two sites that are 90% visual). In 2014, Infographics and other types of photo content will be more viral than ever.
5. Don't Ditch Your SEO
Look, I get it. The first couple of points I made in this post make it sound like old fashioned, organic SEO is pretty much dead and buried. If you've been paying attention to the SEO pundits lately, you've probably had the same thoughts yourself. But, truthfully, as long as there are search engines and search engine users, websites must be configured correctly to get the most from Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Search Engine Optimization isn't dead; it's evolving (at an extremely rapid pace). It’s becoming less about manipulating search results, and more about providing searchers with something useful. Instead of going the easy/cheap route for SEO, try creating great, unique content that offers a valuable solution to your users.