As we close the curtain on 2017, we can look forward to the following SEO trends becoming more popular in 2018.
#1 Voice Search
Let’s commence with the most obvious trend that will dominate 2018: voice search. An estimated 55% of teenagers and 40% of adults are using voice search on a daily basis and usage will only continue increasing as digital assistants become more sophisticated. The simplicity of voice search gives users the ability to find content and receive answers to questions without having to unlock their phones. Not only is voice search much easier than typing out queries, but the error rate continues to diminish as usage increases.
What does this mean for search strategists? I bet you’re saying “Isn’t voice search the same as seeking out information by typing it out?” I hate to burst your bubble, but voice search isn’t the same as manually typing out text. Users don’t use voice search the same way they use text search. Regular searching habits, especially from mobile devices, often require cat-like agility, which means truncating phrases to the bare minimum. For example, if you’re interested in finding out what the weather is in Montreal, you might write out “weather Montreal” to save time. However, with voice search, the average user will use a conversational tone and likely ask a digital assistant “What is the weather like in Montreal today?” Semantic search is now more important than ever with the evolution of voice search, which means you need to continue to work on implementing highly informative and keyword-rich content that search engines can process easily.(more…)
The rise of mobile marketing in recent years has led to major platforms implementing new algorithm updates to favour mobile-friendly content ahead of web pages that are not optimized for smartphone device. While it’s well known that Google has taken strong measures to implement ranking adjustments for mobile-friendly web pages, another major platform has jumped on the train: Facebook.
In a recent blog post announcement, the leader of the social media marketing environment has stated that its algorithm will begin to penalize links to slow-loading web pages. Facebook will analyze the loading time of a web page from its mobile application and utilize those specific site speed scores to adjust the rankings of web pages within people’s news feeds. Although Facebook states that this will not affect most brands publishing content on Facebook, a small number of advertisers are likely to feel the impact of this new update. The incentive to promote quick-loading content does not come as a surprise, as Facebook’s ultimate goal is to increase the user experience within its platform, hence the list of enhancements made to its algorithm in recent years to penalize spammy content, “fake news”, and deceptive redirect links. However, there is an ulterior motive at play here from Facebook: increasing the adoption rate of Instant Articles, which is similar to Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project, otherwise known as AMP.
Navigating the digital environment can be an arduous task for small businesses, especially for companies that have been reliant on traditional marketing tactics. While business classes teach us that there are five main promotional activities in the communications mix – advertising, direct response marketing, sales promotions, personal selling, and public relations – online marketing has quickly evolved into a digital promotional mix on its own.
While traditional marketing practices have certain nuances and skill requirements, online marketing has become a massive endeavor for businesses, where an increasing amount of skill sets are needed to manage campaigns on a large scale successfully. Technical and coding prowess, creative design, astute analytics skills, and copywriting are only a few of the main factors to be considered when deploying promotional activities on the internet. The evolution of social media platforms, periodic algorithm adjustments from search engines, and conception of online advertising exchanges have given digital marketers an arsenal unlike anything that has been seen before in advertising.
However, despite all of the tools readily available at everyone’s disposal, many businesses have been slow in adopting digital marketing practices to capture traffic online. Contrary to popular belief, just creating a website will not lead to hundreds of users hitting your site every day. Whether it’s through social media marketing, search engine optimization, or media buying, you need to develop trust with users and search engines alike to even get the tiniest slice of traffic available on the web.
Before venturing into digital marketing, there are some things a small business must consider before launching any campaigns, which may include:
What is my budget for online marketing? –> Depending on how much you’re willing to invest into digital marketing, the outcomes can either be substantial or minuscule. While we don’t want to hang onto the old saying “to make money, you have to spend money,” you will need to invest a good amount of resources, labor or otherwise, into propelling your brand into the spotlight.
What are my objectives?–> While establishing your goals may seem elementary, this is where a lot of small businesses make mistakes with digital marketing. Although fancy metrics such as likes, shares, and views illustrate one’s popularity, they do not always translate into leads and sales.
Who is my niche audience?–> Better understanding who you want to reach with online marketing will make it easier to develop a strategic plan of action. Media buying platforms, in particular, offer a wide array of targeting options that can help you pinpoint the people most likely to become a customer.
What is my competitive advantage?–> Once again, this may seem like a fundamental element in the planning process, but it can be quite easy to forget if you’re building a new business from scratch. It’s important to define the reason why people should consider your company over a myriad of competitors, especially if what you’re selling isn’t revolutionary or truly distinct from others. Make light of the benefits you provide over competitors and highlight it within your marketing initiatives.
Now that we’ve gone through the preamble, it’s important to know the different tactics and channels that can be employed to promote your brand in a positive light and capture relevant traffic. Here is a list of all the ways you can market your business online: (more…)
The moment social media marketing professionals have been waiting for is finally here (well, those of us that utilize Snapchat for reasons other than posting selfies). Advertising is now available to all businesses on Snapchat.
The new ad manager will present small-to-medium sized companies the opportunity to manage their campaigns without the need of having to through a sales representative or third-party company. Additionally, this gives all types of businesses the chance to test campaigns on smaller budgets rather than investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into brand awareness campaigns that may or may not generate a good return on investment. For those of you venturing through the advertising buying process on Snapchat for the first time, here is what you can expect with regards to the ad formats available.
After months of speculation, it looks like the mobile-first index will finally be rolled out sometime over the course of the next year. According to John Mueller in a recent Google hangout, it seems like Google will start rolling out the mobile-first index to websites that have already prepped for the update.
While the official date of the rollout is still shrouded in mystery, Mueller stated that webmasters would not be notified of when the update happens. From a tracking perspective, this will make it rather difficult for webmasters and digital marketing analysts alike to pinpoint a specific date as to when the change occurred.
However, the ambiguity will be useful in keeping webmasters on their toes to make sure that they are putting all efforts into optimizing their websites for mobile devices. However, this presents an advantage for sites that are already optimized for mobile devices, as they will be given priority to realize the benefits of a mobile-first index ahead of websites that are not up to code.
When Instagram Stories launched last year, news sites lamented the fact that it was derivative of Snapchat’s Stories feature and brought nothing new to the table. However, in only nine short months, it seems like Instagram’s feature has caught lightning with users, surpassing Snapchat when it comes to daily active users. With 200 million active daily users compared to 160 million daily active users for Snapchat, it seems like Instagram’s clone has been a resounding success. While this is certainly not the death knell for Snapchat, it is quite disconcerting that Instagram’s blatantly copied feature is becoming far more popular and widely used than the original. Here are some reasons that may have contributed to Snapchat’s fall from grace in recent month.
Building a campaign from scratch may seem like a daunting task for small businesses, especially if they don’t have adequate internal marketing resources. On the end of the spectrum, bigger companies face the issue of resource allocation when it comes to developing creative assets for new campaigns. Navigating through an endless stream of emails and requests can lead to significant delays in production. In most cases, working with an experienced agency that specializes in conversion optimization can prevent businesses from developing landing pages that will not be ready for future media buying campaigns. However, if that’s not an option and you need to build out landing pages internally, here are the top 8 things to consider when creating a new landing page.
Whether you decide to outsource the development of landing pages or handle creative design internally, here are eight important tips to consider when building out landing pages.
#1. Add the right amount of content
While you should create your landing pages with the purpose of pushing users through the conversion funnel in as few steps as possible, you need to ensure there is enough content on the page to educate users. If Google AdWords is at the center of your media buying strategy, adding relevant ad copy may be essential to increasing your quality score and building up your landing page relevance. If you are pushing traffic from a long-form post on LinkedIn to a particular landing page targeting high-level CEO’s, being thin on content may be more efficient than writing an essay about your services. Fully understand your target audience and the path users are taking to reach your landing page when developing your content strategy.
#2. Make your landing page mobile responsive (more…)
If you’re not ‘Yelping’ yet, it might be time to jump on the bandwagon.
According to a brand new consumer survey prepared by Nielsen, it seems like Yelp is quickly becoming a powerful vehicle for local marketing campaigns. In case you have no idea what we’re talking about, Yelp is a popular website that features user reviews for local business and restaurants. Of the 2,000 U.S. adults surveyed, 92% indicated that they made a purchase after visiting the site.
Other compelling statistics extracted from the report include:
74% of consumers actively seeking information about a local business will peruse online review websites on a monthly basis.
Yelp was the consensus favourite among survey respondents when it comes to local review websites.
79% of Yelp users are actively looking for local establishments that they can visit more than once.
55% of users will order food for pickup or delivery from local restaurants on Yelp after using the platform to find recommendations.
While these statistics are rather glowing in Yelp’s favour, one must exercise caution and take this report with a grain of salt, because the study was commissioned by Yelp. However, there’s no denying these review-type websites are essential ingredients in any digital marketing initiative for local businesses. Marketing professionals are quick to exhaust advertising budgets on Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, but when it comes to identifying niche platforms that can yield optimal results, Yelp is often ignored or severely underutilized.
How Can You Use Yelp for Local Marketing?
If you’re a business owner and haven’t started using Yelp yet, here are some handy tips on how to effectively utilize the website to achieve your marketing objectives.
1. Claim Your Listing
As with any local marketing initiative, you must be proactive and claim your business listing or create a new profile from scratch. If you do not maintain control over your listing, issues can arise in the long-run, especially if inaccurate information is displayed on the public profile. Make an effort to clean up your business’ information on Yelp and optimize it for your niche audience. If you’re in the restaurant industry, chances are you’re heavily dependent upon public reviews and how your company is represented on this specific platform.
2. Optimize Your Business Information
This may seem pretty obvious, but companies tend to make the simple mistake of inputting inconsistent information on local listings around the web. When it comes to local SEO, search engines are actively scanning your profiles to ensure the name, address, and phone number are consistent across all platforms. Also, make sure to update your listing whenever updates arise. For example, if you alter your hours of operation, be sure to reflect that on your Yelp listing. Otherwise, you may receive harsh criticisms and acerbic feedback from dissatisfied users, making your business look bad in the public eye.
3. Engage with Users and Reply to Customer Reviews
As with all other platforms in the digital marketing environment, popularity plays a significant role with regards to how search results are determined. Listings that garner the most positive feedback and reviews will tend to rank well for relevant searches. However, businesses that have earned a negative reputation are likely to be buried within search results, resulting in little-to-no visibility for pertinent searches. Managing reviews on Yelp can be a burdensome activity on its own, and if you’re new to the platform, it may be difficult to determine where you need to begin. Listing managers have the ability to respond to a review either publicly or privately, which must be determined on a review-by-review basis. Adding a public comment to positive reviews indicates that your business values user feedback. Negative reviews, on the other hand, require far more delicate treatment and can snowball into a disaster if not attended to properly. If users are caustic and flagrantly bash your business, use the private messaging feature to deal with individual complaints. However, if misleading or inaccurate comments are posted, feel free to respond publicly to clear up any misunderstandings.
4. Upload Photos to Your Profile
If an image can say 1,000 words, then 20 photos must represent 20,000 words about your business. There’s no better storytelling than that, right?
When users are seeking out information on Yelp, they want to get an idea of what to expect should they visit your businesses. In the restaurant industry, photos and videos can help convert users because you are giving them a visual representation of appetizing meals. Visual assets can also assist businesses in the hospitality industry to paint an image of the idyllic vacation for intrigued users. Regardless of your target audience, take advantage of the photo upload feature for businesses to establish legitimacy with users and earn their trust. While past studies revealed that users will spend more time on average browsing listings containing photos, conventional wisdom should indicate that more multimedia assets available within your listing equals more opportunities to keep users engaged.
5. Promote Special Offers & Deals
How does Yelp monetize its platform? This is one of two methods in which the local marketing platform makes money. The Deals and Gift Certificates program allows businesses to promote special offers to users on Yelp. For a local restaurant, this could be a special voucher for a meal or a gift certificate to be used at a later date. While there are no upfront costs, Yelp will collect 30% of money spent on deals and 10% on gift certificates, making it an expensive, but potentially worthwhile, marketing endeavor.
6. Advertise on Yelp
Last but not least, Yelp’s advertising platform is the second way the business monetizes its traffic. The targeted local advertising solutions available within the platform can help propel your listing to the top of search results and ensure your brand name is shown on top competitor listings, giving you an opportunity to divert traffic away from other businesses. While feedback is certainly mixed with regards to the effectiveness of Yelp advertising, it can prove to be a worthwhile investment if you’re already generating excellent results organically. Rather than diving head first and allocating thousands of dollars into Yelp advertising, test the waters by spending a couple of hundred dollars to see if you can gain traction with this type of media buying campaign. If the results prove to be unsuccessful, focus your efforts on building your profile organically and cultivating reviews.
Now that you have a better understanding of the effectiveness of Yelp marketing, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and optimize your presence on this local marketing platform.
Google has clandestinely stopped serving its TrueView discover ads within mobile search results or “related video” results on video watch pages within the YouTube network temporarily. Unfortunately for Google, these ads have been paused until better measures are implemented to prevent videos from being shown next to offensive and extremist content, which is an issue that has been plaguing its video advertising platform for months. As discussed in a previous blog post, the search engine giant is investing time and resources into deploying filters and feedback tools to identify objectionable content within organic search results, which is also known as Project Owl. However, the issue has become quite troublesome within the advertising spectrum, as major brands have scaled back spend, and in some cases, halted campaigns indefinitely with Google until the aforementioned issues are resolved and safeguards are implement to ensure brand protection. (more…)
Self-serve advertising tools are coming to Snapchat. Hallelujah!
When Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., filed its initial public offering earlier this year, it was expected that the company would begin adding more business features to its Snapchat platform to entice small and medium sized businesses into spending money with the growing social media platform. Until now, companies that wanted to promote their products and services on Snapchat had to be willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on Snapchat’s premium ad products or purchase media through one of their preferred advertising partners, causing angst among those of us that wanted to test campaigns on small budgets before ramping up digital spend. However, in a recent announcement, it appears that Snapchat will finally give us media buying wizards our wish by releasing a whole set of fancy new tools geared at onboarding more businesses into the advertising platform….and in the end, making more money to appease Snap Inc. investors.