The world of online marketing is always changing. Tried and true practices one year can quickly become taboo. Staying on top of your online presence requires staying on top of the trends. Mistakes in your strategy can have a huge impact both online and off as customers struggle to find information about your company in search engine results. What do you need to know about online marketing in 2014?
It’s All About Content
Search engines are getting smarter and the days of stuffing content with keywords to get hits are long over. While there are many methods for building your brand and increasing your visibility, great content is one that every successful online marketing strategy includes. But, be careful with your content and don’t let just anything up on your site.
The Google Hummingbird update of 2013 was the biggest change to SEO that the year saw. It wasn’t just a regular update though; different from Panda and Penguin (which was Google’s last algorithm update(s) to the initial algorithm); Hummingbird is a completely new search algorithm. Designed to be more precise and provide faster query results, the algorithm is based on semantic search, focusing on user intent versus individual search terms. Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query is taken into account rather than particular words. The goal is that pages that match the users intent do better than pages that just match a few isolated keywords. What this means is that long tail keywords are more important to Hummingbird than shorter head terms. Google is increasingly searching for content that is relevant and trusted, in essence content with authority. Building high quality, highly relevant content that truly answers the needs of the intended audience should be the focus of your core online marketing strategy
When creating content, think first about the audience you are trying to reach and second about the SEO impact of the piece. Yes, you want people to be able to find it, but just as important is creating content that will educate and inform. Apply good SEO practices to great content to make it easy to find. This is important on all pages of your site, not just those that are content heavy.
Want great content that is easy to find? Here are some tips:
- Think Like a Searcher– When titling pages, think like a user. What might a user input into a search engine if they were looking for a particular page? For example rather than titling an account page as “Your Account”, you might want to try something like, “Access Your XYZ Bank Account”.
- Don’t Overlap– Many webpages create multiple similar pages of content that focus on different keywords. To keep search engines focused on the most relevant documents, create articles that can all stand alone, rather than multiple reiterations of the same topic.
- Keep it Fresh– The internet is packed with information; to stand out you need to provide something new and interesting. Talk about current events, trending topics and other relevant issues to keep your content fresh. Don’t forget to utilize the latest social media tools (hint: Pinterest is BIG right now) to spread your content far and wide.
- Avoid Harmful Content– As the major search engines seek to root out spam and become better filters for their users, your online marketing strategy must become more savvy. Avoid using content strategies that cause more harm than good. Definitely avoid article spinning and rewriting; these strategies might have worked three or four years ago, but do not any more.
Being on Facebook Isn’t Enough
The way people get in touch with their favorite businesses is changing. No longer do customers pick up the phone and call a business; they use their mobile devices to connect with businesses via social media. Checking,, updating and responding to social media inquiries is an essential method for interacting with customers. In 2014 (and beyond) make sure your company is integrating social media into your online marketing strategy. It isn’t enough to be on Facebook and other social media sites; to truly utilize this tool you must connect with those online that choose to interact with you through these platforms. Hint: a responsive website that works on mobile devices is another big plus too.
You Can’t Cheat Google
In the early days of search engines, a few clever tricks could get your website to the top of the search engine rankings. This isn’t the case anymore. Forget the once touted practices of article spinning, content farming, guest posting purely for SEO and other content tricks. As search engines get smarter and more adept at finding the content searchers actually want to see, online marketers must create this content to succeed. While a shortcut strategy might get you a temporary gain in search engine rankings, updates will come and these changes won’t last. Think of how Panda and Penguin dramatically changed some company rankings. What will the next update bring?
Make 2014 a great year for your online presence by creating quality content and knowing how to best present this content. If there’s one truth in online marketing, it’s that things are always changing. This year will certainly be the same.