The weather is changing and the holidays are coming. Your children are down to the last few treats from the Halloween candy bag, but they’re already looking ahead in anticipation as ornament-laden evergreens start to crop up in every store.
As a marketer, you know very well what’s happening. As kids go to school, play with friends and enjoy their routine weekend activities, there’s incentive to think about the future and the rewards it could bring. And as a marketer, there’s potential reward in your future, too – and it’s to your advantage to prepare right now. A host of changes and new opportunities are coming to the 2017 digital marketing landscape so it is a perfect time to ask yourself: “Am I ready?”
Six Things to Put on Your Company’s Digital Marketing Wish List
It’s pretty certain that you’ve heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and you are likely applying some basic strategies for boosting the visibility and ranking of your website. Whether you have an active and dynamic SEO operation or you’re reliant on a strategy you don’t actively maintain and monitor, forthcoming changes in how SEO is determined by major search engines could make your current practices obsolete. Here’s six SEO practices to consider that will help you bring the gift of online success to your business.
Web pages need data… and schemas.
Informing your customers about your products and services is key to a web site that works. But just as important is making sure that information is structured in a way that search engines can easily and effectively read that information, too. Talking to search engine and other application providers means sharing a vocabulary which includes a special type of HTML-based microdata that lets them understand and display information in a meaningful way. For example, when data is easily accessible through semantic language – or schemas – it allows your business to take better advantage of applications like Google Rich Card, Rich Snippets and Google Quick Answer that display site content within the search engine environment.
Having the “Conversation.”
People are turning to Internet-enabled devices in a more social way. From car GPS systems to entertainment systems to Internet search assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home, people are becoming more accustomed to talking to a machine. When people use voice search, it is more likely that they will use natural language such as questions and full sentences to engage with the technology. For search engine marketers, that means expanding keyword research from short words and phrases to longer, more conversational ones.
Links matter more than ever.
When links became a significant part search engine ranking, it quickly creating an industry for developing link farms and other link spam tactics to take advantage of the link-based ranking algorithm. The practice has been popular for many years, so at some point your company may have willingly or inadvertently applied this SEO strategy. Well, things are about to change with the march of the Google Penguin. Google Penguin was developed to combat link spam and penalize sites using this link-building approach. It may be time to break some chains and think about a more relevant Google-compliant linking strategy.
Content is still king.
Relevant, credible, and engaging content may be more important than ever. SEO should be considered as something that can improve entire campaigns, not just individual marketing deliverables. Optimizing keywords and providing rich content across digital channels is a strategic play to provide customers with a consistent user experience and maximize the effectiveness of your SEO effort. In addition, 2017 may be the year of long form content. Paired with good quality keywords and relevant content, longer copy can be good for you users – and your page rank.
AMP up your load time.
Back in 2009, research by Akamai established that users are more likely to abandon pages that do not load within two seconds. It is a benchmark that still carries weight today. In fact, loading time may now factor into page ranking. To minimize load time, make sure images are necessary and optimized. Also consider optimizing your mobile content using AMP. The AMP Project is a way to build a mobile web experience that renders fast, provides additional visibility benefits within the Google Search Engine (an AMP logo associated with a qualified search result), and sets the direction for Google to shift the focus of its search engine indexing from desktop to mobile page ranking.
Uncover your content.
In yet another nod to making user experience the chief driver of page rank, Google has developed ways to target troublesome interstitial pages and popups. The purpose of the interstitial page and the amount of screen it covers on mobile sites will be part of a page rank determination.
SEO is in a state of constant change – a change that is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. User experience, as reflected by content and design, continues to drive the major changes in the way we market our products and services in the digital space. The combination of brand visibility offered by SEO with the availability of user-centered, engaging content is critical to a satisfying customer journey. Businesses that stay current with SEO practices and monitor their performance over time will have a distinct online competitive advantage. So, as the weather cools, take the time to light a fire under your digital marketing strategy!