Most businesses, whether they are B2B or B2C will agree that delivering great quality content is the way to go for their marketing strategy. The term content marketing encompasses a lot of different strategies and it will evolve constantly with time. What are the content marketing trends that we forecast for 2017 and beyond?
Content marketing techniques are constantly changing. One of the trends we have observed at Alvomedia is how many clients ask for the use of visuals in their marketing campaign. More and more businesses are using videos, attention grabbing images and infographics to deliver interesting and informative content. Did you know that when looking at the same piece of written content, 94% of readers will look at the written content that has a picture? Big, bold and relevant images are the most effective.
Targeted Marketing on Social Media
Depending on your targeted demographic of consumers, you should grab their attention using social media. This is a huge content marketing trend and shift towards targeting users of social media. The big social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SnapChat, Instagram and Pinterest. Businesses are beginning to realize that customer engagement is just as important, if not more important than putting out an expensive advertisement. Businesses that take the time to engage with their target audience on social media will spread the message of their brand wider and more effectively than business that ignore social media in their content marketing.
Businesses Want Metrics for their Marketing Efforts
Many businesses know that content marketing works, but not many know how successful their content marketing strategy. There is a trend now towards measuring the ROI of content marketing and marketing agencies on brushing up their analytics when looking at distribution channels of marketing, the form of content marketing and the content itself. Businesses don’t want to throw a lot of money into ineffective marketing strategies and this is one of the biggest trends towards measurable content marketing.
Increase of A/B Testing Software
Content marketers are using softwares such as ScribbleLive, Visual Website Optimizer and KISSmetrics more than ever to gauge how successful their marketing efforts have been. A/B Testing just means testing one variance in their marketing compared to another. It allows marketers to explain why they go for one strategy as opposed to another.
Better Curated Content
The quality and relevance of content trumps all other factors when it comes to content marketing. Content marketing used to be unfocused, but markers are moving towards the direction of very well curated content. In niche subject areas, this is essential; readers will want selective and high quality content that address their needs specifically.
Google has changed its algorithms in favor of Google AMP more mobile friendly websites amongst many other changes. If you are an online marketer, you must know what those changes are in order to understand how they are going to affect the search engine optimization or SEO of a website. The search engine company has set in certain website development guidelines recently that is also having an impact on the ways mobile users browse the Internet – mobile SERPS presentation, Google Play, and a few other website development related guidelines. All these are in cohesion with the changes in the algorithm that the search engine giant has recently brought in.
Google algorithms is now focusing more on mobile and mobile-friendly website design. It is the hottest trend as growing numbers of users are using their mobile devices to browse the Internet. Google is trying to give mobile users the best Internet experience possible. It has made mobile websites efficient and quick. No matter where a user views it – mobile or desktop, he/she should be able to check out all the components of a website easily and conveniently.
The mobile versions of the websites have easy navigation features to browse and find pertinent information. The websites that are optimized for mobile also fit well within the screen of the smart phones. Now you do not have to shift or pinch to see the contents of a site. It has become more convenient and easy.
Why are Google algorithm updates important?
Changes in Google algorithms reflect the needs of internet users. The main reason for the mobile friendly updates is due to the large number of internet users on mobile devices. Changes in Google algorithms are important because they will affect the ranking of your website as it appears on organic SERPs. If you did not pay attention to visitors accessing your website through mobile devices, it will result in lower visibility for your website. At first the lower visibility may not seem important, but over time it will impact greatly on your website’s income and the potential for you to generate more leads. Paying attention to Google algorithm updates will ensure you have the most optimized website for your customers and business.
What are the other recent updates in algorithm from Google?
Google algorithms change frequently and are impossible to forecast with accuracy. It is better to react quickly to any changes instead of trying to change your website before any update rolls out.
Recently, Google indexed around 30 billion links of the websites that have “app indexing” enabled. The android users noticed that the links of the websites for which the users have apps installed are getting included in the search results. Google has started App Indexing as an important ranking signal. Now, the search performed on any of the android mobile device will include links to the respective apps of the websites that the user is searching. The links would also be linked to the apps that are yet not installed in the device of the user. According to a spokesperson from the Google, “If you’ve implemented App Indexing, when indexed content from your app is relevant to a search done on Google on Android devices, people may start to see app install buttons for your app in search results. Tapping these buttons will take them to the Google Play store where they can install your app, then continue straight on to the right content within it.” This change in algorithm is beneficial for the app developers as this will help them get new users and maintain the old ones too.
The doorway pages are those pages that the webmasters use only to get good ranks in search engines, without having any other significant value to the website or the company. These doorway pages actually affect the users’ search experience negatively and thus, the search engine company said that it will penalize the companies that develop websites with the doorway pages.
The “Quality” update
Through this update Google announced that it has changed the way it determines the quality of a website. Following this announcement many websites found a change in their rankings. The search engine giant has changed the core ranking algorithm itself to determine the way it processes quality signals from a website. In short, all these changes in Google algorithm indicate that if your SEO services company is using legitimate SEO techniques and is avoiding the “black-hat techniques” of SEO to get ranks in Google, your website will achieve good ranks and will not be affected in any way. In case you notice a drop in the rank of the website, you should check your SEO methods, content, and the page structure of the SEO services provider you are choosing.
Engaging and content rich, videos are quickly becoming the preferred medium for digital marketing. In recent findings by eMarketer, more than 50% of adults in the US watch online TV shows at least once a month. This shows the traction of digital video content and this trend is gaining momentum. People are biologically wired to pay more attention to visuals and the rich visual content delivered by video content is unmatched by any other format. In fact, viewers retain information much better after watching video content and increase their intention to purchase by 97%. Brand association increases by 139% after being viewed on videos.
Effectiveness of video content marketing
If there is anything brands can conclude from these statistics is that video content marketing is really effective. 93% of marketers already use video marketing; 66% use blogs and 44% use photography. If you are contemplating using video marketing or have already integrated video content into your content strategy, here are tips that could improve your digital marketing efforts.
Here is a recent survey by Hubspot showing the share-ability of video content compared to other forms of content.
1. Relevancy is key to video optimization for search engines
When you optimize a video for the search engine, the content matters greatly in terms of relevancy. Invite Google to rank your video content highly in searches for relevancy to your chosen keywords. If you are familiar with SEO for written content, then this will seem self explanatory. Make your company name or main keyword search terms visible in the title of your video. Make sure that all pertinent information to link to your company, and contact details can be found next to the video. Add external links to your Twitter handle or Facebook/LinkedIn page; if you have a recognizable logo use this to remind people that you are a brand. Some marketers forget to make their videos public or add the right URL to the video caption for links to their company website. If you are creating video content for YouTube, the Java script will prevent Google from crawling your video, however you can load a caption file. You can also annotate your video to contain the relevant keyword search terms.
2. Get the setting right for video content
Make sure that your video setting is in public, and not private. Once you have created a video, put it in a featured box or prominent position on your company landing page or YouTube channel page. There are settings to ensure that your video plays automatically, Once your video is on auto-play, viewers are more likely to watch. In the video description, add your company name and link to website; for videos on your website or anywhere else always make sure that the video description contain the keywords you want to be searched for. The setting needs to be visually appealing as well so clear out any clutter in the descriptions box, put texts in readable paragraphs and select an attention grabbing icon or thumbnail for your video.
3. Use video content marketing strategically
Video content marketing used correctly can make your brand message viral, or at the least gain more attention. Identify where you need video marketing and create content that is informative and relevant. The most popular video content include product demonstrations, lectures, information shorts, tips/how to guides, customer testimonials, peek previews of a teaching seminar, interviews, behind the scenes, case studies and creative shorts. Your content strategy should be very clear about how video content will further your goals towards growth. Getting more attention, more shares, more engagement and ultimately brand awareness are all goals for your video content marketing.
4. Think about how you convey your message via video content
Once you have figured where video content fits into your business, you should about how convey the message. Hiring the right actors, or filming the CEO are part of this decision making. Do you want your company to have a professional tone or a more relaxed, trendy one? Some video content needs to convey expertise, trustworthiness and authenticity. How will you convey these qualities in your video? If you are hiring a professional video team, communicate clearly with them about how you wish to convey your message.
5. Budget carefully for your video marketing
Professional video production is costly and no one gets their first video right. Even if you have the most advanced equipment and experienced team, there will be areas of improvement after you’ve shot your first video. Sometimes, ongoing video content is required, for instance you might need to shoot weekly interviews, behind the scenes or Q & A sessions. By budgeting carefully, you will be able to shoot more videos or amend any mistakes you’ve made previously through professional editing. Putting all your money into shooting one perfect video is a bad idea; your viewers will not remember you in the busy digital space, and your competitors will be churning out quality video content consistently.
6. Use video content you already have
Using footage from interviews or conferences is a great idea, because 1. It saves you time and money and 2. it has a better feel of authenticity. If there are archives of video media in your company, upload this as video content on YouTube or use snippets for your new video.
7. Informal does not mean unprofessional in video marketing
In an age of authenticity, candid video footage can make your viewers feel more connected to your company. If you do not know what material to choose, staff interviews, a day in the life footage, company office tours and footage from speaking events make excellent content. You can edit out any inappropriate language and behaviors before making the video content public.
8. Edit video content for maximum distribution
Maximum distribution is the name of the game when it comes to video content. Consistency and quality will get your video content noticed but maximum distribution will ensure that a wider audience can have brand awareness. Instead of using the same video for every video platform, you can edit the video footage so it can appear different-or make it into a DVD for training or customers to purchase.
9. Optimize video content across devices
Video content is consumed across multiple devices such as iPads, smartphones and tablets; you must make sure that your content is optimized for every screen and your own website is mobile responsive. If your video has call to action and other conversion rate optimization features then they must also appear prominently around your video for cross devices.
10. Use metrics to target your video content for the right audience
Keeping track of your viewing metrics will help you know:
How long your viewers watch your videos for
Which videos are watched most often
What times do most viewers watch your video
What device does your viewers use to watch your video content
What is the audience retention rate
How many viewers subscribed to your channel on YouTube
For metrics, watch time is far more important than number of views. Number of impressions are vanity metrics and what is more indicative of your content’s success is the number of shares, audience retention and subscriber rates.
A relatively new form of marketing, many companies have made the transition to promotions in the digital space and many more will follow suit in the next decade. Despite the vast amounts of information about digital marketing, there are still lies circulating around about the methods, channels and ROI of digital marketing. As a result, people miss the vast opportunities available to them through digital marketing. This blog attempts to expose some eminent and common lies related to digital marketing so that people can reach their marketing goals sooner in 2017.
Debunking digital marketing for 2017 and beyond
It is easy for marketers to be misinformed about digital marketing practices. The conflicting views about digital marketing trends and the lack of information to back up statements make this very confusing for everyone concerned. A survey conducted by Adobe: Digital Distress revealed that 52% of marketers (in a poll of 1000) lacked confidence in their digital marketing skills. When the pressure is so great to show digital marketing ROI, only 9% of respondents were confident enough to say their digital marketing strategy was working.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to debunking digital marketing myths is the way decision makers measure marketing ROI. Linking digital marketing to financial performance may just be the biggest myth of them all. Digital marketing is not a ‘one time capital project,’ and measuring the ROI may not reveal the true value that digital marketing is bringing to the company.
Nevertheless, here are some of the most harmful digital marketing lies people should dismiss in 2017…
1. Digital is just social media marketing
Social networking and digital marketing are interconnected. Social media performs an important role in digital marketing but it does not all simplify down to social media. Many marketers like to think of social media marketing as the common denominator, but the fact is; it is only one channel of digital marketing. Basically, to attract a wider community of audience, digital marketing needs to be facilitated by social networks. With 2.206 billion global active social media users and 30% penetration, social media marketing is not an opportunity digital marketers want to miss. Social media allows for word of mouth marketing on a global scale.
If there was another way to reach the target demographic of customers via digital channels, marketers would pursue that. Despite the popularity of social media marketing, it is not suitable for every business. Niche businesses may not connect with users on Facebook or Twitter. Businesses many sabotage their reputation by some social media faux pas. In fact, many businesses don’t have, or need, a social media strategy to acquire customers.
2: Only some businesses need digital marketing
Digital marketing sets no limitation in terms of business size. Regardless of how big or small the business entity is, digital marketing serves its purpose in the digital age. In 2015, there are more than 3 billion Internet users around the world; 39% of all global Internet is high speed broadband and the share of web traffic via mobile devices has exceeded that of desktops. Regardless of the business size, customers are using the Internet to find businesses and increasingly through their smart phones.
Businesses have to adopt digital marketing because their customers find content on digital channels.
In fact, this strategy allows small entrepreneurs to compete with larger enterprises. Furthermore, major corporations often have a complicated process involving several departments in creating content or tweeting compared to small business owners who have more flexibility to do so. Breaking down the silos is an issue larger corporations face that smaller businesses do not.
3: Digital marketing doesn’t work for B2B companies
A notion that digital marketing doesn’t work out for B2B trade is a false assumption because all business institutions can use digital marketing tactics. Numerous B2B companies have content marketers and social media accounts as a proof that digital marketing strategy works in B2B sales. There is a great article by Jay Baer about the social media strategies used by B2B marketers. Every business, regardless of B2B or B2C, will discern who their intended customers are and implement their social media marketing accordingly.
The other myth about B2B companies is ease of content marketing. Because B2B have a smaller customer base, people think that there is less competition in creating great content. Content marketing for B2B companies is no piece of cake though, according to the survey of content marketing trends by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs:
This content marketing survey of North American B2B companies suggests that producing enough content to engage the audience is the biggest challenge for B2B content marketing.
4: Older consumers doesn’t respond to digital marketing
Digital marketing efforts are certainly not wasted on senior citizens because the Internet is no longer just for little whippersnappers who grew up with technology. According to the Pew Research Center, 59% of people age 65 and up are online, and 47% have high-speed Internet. Contrary to popular belief, older Americans are not still trying to get on AOL using a dial-up connection. Many of them are probably doing the same things you do online, like using Facebook Messenger to talk to their friends, and setting up profiles on multiple online dating sites.
There are elements in digital marketing such as UX design, SEO and PPC where older customers can benefit from attention to detail. Finding out how older customers use search engines and what size font is best can impact on sales. If your company targets an older demographic of consumers, then UX design, website content and knowing the optimal times to post is imperative. Tools such as Google Analytics will provide data on when your target customers are online and most likely to see your content.
5: Digital marketing is too hard to measure
According to Forbes, some of the main digital marketing metrics you should be keeping track of are website visits, bounce rate, customer’s retention rate, conversions and cost per lead. Keeping track of everything is hard to maneuver and a daunting prospect if you’re among the 20% of B2B marketers who don’t measure their marketing ROI.
Be that as it may, you can still measure your digital marketing effort. By doing so, you already have a competitive advantage over the 87% of senior marketers who say they don’t feel confident in forecasting the sales as a result of their marketing. Even if you use a few marketing metrics, this is better than no metrics at all. When you invest your time into strategic digital marketing, with goals in mind, this can help position your company for success.
6: Digital marketing should completely replace traditional marketing channels
Both traditional and digital marketing plays a valuable role in industries that revolve around consumer’s preferences for effectiveness. Most organizations still need a mix of marketing tactics and channels, but that mix may vary. Your “blend” may be 50 / 50 traditional and digital marketing or it may be 80 / 20 depending on your organizational culture, your customer preference, your sales cycle and more. There is no one-size-fits all mix when it comes to how much you spend on digital vs. traditional marketing. There can be such a thing as “too much” for just about everything, and that includes digital marketing as well.
7: Your digital marketing project can be done easily, quickly and cheaply
In digital marketing, there are three forces at work; the cost, time and quality. You cannot choose to have all three at the same time. Digital marketing services can be inexpensive but at the cost of time or quality. High quality/effective digital marketing requires time, and expertise in digital marketing is never cheap.
When you hear a digital marketing agency promising to deliver work on time, cheaply and with expertise; there are usually compromises on time, cost and quality.
8: Success in digital marketing has nothing to do with money
There is a common misconception that digital marketing is cheap. After all, signing up for a Google Analytics and social media account is free. Compared to traditional forms of marketing, PPC, social media ads and even programmatic marketing are cheap. Be that as it may, becoming a success at digital marketing can cost you extra money.
Learning about digital marketing and implementing an effective strategy requires time and money in hiring experts. According to Econsultancy, companies are increasing their marketing spend on digital channels. This should not be a surprise in light of the competitive marketplace and how customers behave along the buying funnel. To create an impact through digital marketing methods, a certain change and investment is required. According to eMarketer, the global ad spend on digital channels is 30%; by 2018 56.5% of all ad spend in the UK will be via digital channels and in China, 57.2% will be digital.
9: Everyone in digital marketing is a SEO expert
It is likely that all digital marketers have heard of SEO. Some have dabbled in it and others are more successful in practicing SEO. Expertise in SEO is not a prerequisite of becoming a digital marketer. There are so many peripheral techniques to great digital marketing that learning about SEO could just be one of them. These days, it is impossible to be effective in digital marketing without a foundational knowledge of how search engines work. Online visibility depends so much on search engines that any digital marketing method needs to work in synergy with the search engines.
Finding a digital marketing team with expertise in SEO is paramount to your company’s online success. Because of the changing nature of search engines and SEO, it is best to work with a digital marketing team that is up to date with SEO guidelines.
10: I don’t sell anything on my website; calls to action (CTA) aren’t important
Although a website isn’t transactional in the traditional sense, you should consider it a vital part of the conversion funnel. Calls to action are still relevant, even if they do not directly lead to purchasing something.
Calls to action brings attention to the purpose of your website. Even if you don’t sell any tangible product on your site, there are still things you would like your website visitors to do. You might need them to join your social media group, sign up to your newsletters or register as a member. Conversions does not always relate to sales. It can be a subscription or action you’d like your visitors to take. Calls to action are effective because they tap into the human psychology of expectation, curiosity and reward. Most people visit websites with the expectation of reward (valuable content).
11: Digital strategy and digital project management are the same
Bothdigital strategy and digital project management are considered skills within the umbrella of marketing but the point of view vary. Both skill sets can most definitely be held by the same person, but they really should be separated on small to medium digital marketing projects. When running a digital marketing team, there should be an appropriate staffing between strategy and project management.
The way a digital strategist and a project manager implement their tasks are different. Your digital strategist may plan on a different time scale and think about areas of continual improvement. Long term brand equity, market share value and client retention may be the goals of a digital marketing strategist. A digital product manager, on the other hand, will want results within budget and delivered within a certain time frame. Resource allocation and project functionality becomes a main concern. You can say that the digital marketing strategist thinks further ahead in time.
12: You can measure everything in digital marketing
From one extreme to another…
There are marketing tools available today that allows marketers to study all kinds of data collected from websites. Theoretically, it is possible to measure everything in marketing and put a number to it. However, there are shortcomings to every method used for measuring and this can affect your interpretation of marketing data.
Some parts of the customer purchasing journey is so intertwined; knowing what to measure is hard. And then, there is the issue of what to do with all the customer data? Everything can be measured, but should marketers bother? A consumer centric approach is to measure the effectiveness of digital marketing. Does the marketing effort deliver the solution to customers at the right time? When marketers measure the transactions taking place-such as a customer purchase, they want to know how this can inspire customers to make a purchase again in the future. Measuring transactions is the basis of real time programmatic marketing. Marketers have always wanted to measure what influences customer purchasing behaviors: relevancy, identification, accessibility, value and risk.
13: The same thing that worked for a competitor will work for me
There are many variables which affects the outcome of digital marketing campaigns. One size doesn’t fit at all in content strategy. Your competitor may have different organizational structures, target customers and reputation. When marketers compare their company with a competitor, they are assuming that all things being equal; they will achieve the same results. This does not work in reality at all.
Another problem is competitor data. Publicly available data about competitors only reveal a small glimpse of their digital marketing strategies. Even within the competitor’s company, most staff do not know the marketing strategy behind implementation. It is far more effective to conduct market analysis and test the methods. Companies cannot rely on what they hear; testing will produce a more accurate conclusion. When it comes to your competitor’s content strategy, it is useful to know why they are doing it rather than copy what they are doing. By monitoring your own metrics, you can improve the conversions with a strategy that is tailor made for you.
14: Digital marketing should be 100% outsourced
Outsourcing digital marketing is a way to save time and improve your company’s efficiency. However, it does not replace the need to know about your customers and what marketing metrics to measure. In order to gain the most from outsourcing areas of marketing such as email marketing, marketing automation and content creation, you have to be the conductor of the orchestra.
There are several practical reasons why outsourcing digital marketing may be a challenge. Firstly, outsource agencies in non-English speaking countries may have the language barrier in communicating with you. There may also be delays as a result of the distance. Secondly, quality control may be harder when your marketers are not nearby to discuss issues. Thus, finding reliable outsourced marketers is a must. Thirdly, there is a risk of copyright issues and security breaches when 3rd party providers have access to sensitive company information. Outsourcing can be a great business decision as long as the pros and cons are carefully weighed.
15: Digital marketing strategy is the responsibility of CMOs
These days, digital leadership from senior level executives is key to the company’s success. The CMO and CTO should work together to guide the digital marketing direction of the company; every member of the C-Suite has to have responsibility in digital. Forbes even predicted the role of C-suite members in 2017 and beyond. Formal responsibility has to be given to executives but a digitally led culture within the company should be nurtured. By raising the digital IQ of the organization from top down, marketing in a digital world can be more effective.
The obstacle to digital initiatives is the disconnection of roles between the organization’s members. By isolating digital tasks to only a few members, any digital initiative will be weakened.
16: Digital marketing campaigns can be executed without the support of the IT department
Every digital marketing campaign requires analytic data skills. These days, the interconnection between technology, data and marketing channels allows marketers to target consumers effectively. Programmatic marketing is an example of digital media informed by real time data. Companies are beginning to invest more in people with strong quantitative and data skill sets.
Data science, or the extraction of knowledge from large volumes of data that is structured/unstructured, is a skill that marketers will need to embrace in the next decade. Companies are collecting customer data from purchase transactions, CRM systems, supply chain systems and servers in order to gain a better understanding of what their customers want. With this data, marketers can do predictive modeling and tweak their marketing strategy. It is simply not enough to plan marketing campaigns based on intuition; insightful data has to form the backbone of all digital marketing campaigns.
17: Keyword optimized content is good enough
High quality content is the obstacle to many digital marketing campaigns. Sometimes, it is not a lack of intellectual capacity for content, but a misjudgment of what content the consumers want. There are many reasons why producing high quality content is not as easy as it seems. Most marketers misunderstand what high quality content actually means.
Let’s take Google’s Quality Rater guidelines, which has been leaked online, and talks about what constitutes high quality content. Firstly, marketers need to create content at an expert level-amateurs need not apply. Secondly, there is an emphasis on the user experience; a satisfying user experience is necessary for content to be considered high quality. Thirdly, Google recommends fresh content (frequently updated websites) with a satisfying amount of website information. This implies more, rather then less content. Lastly, Google recommends interactions with other authoritative sources to draw upon their expertise.
These days, content marketing can be in various mediums (infographics, blogs, white papers) and distributed along various digital marketing channels for different demographics of consumers. No matter what the content, content marketing has to be aligned with the marketing goals and this is a continual challenge in the changing digital landscape.
18: Digital marketing means getting millions of website traffic
In effective digital marketing, one must consider quality rather than quantity of website traffic. Attracting specific, and targeted website visitors has higher probabilities of conversion than thousands of visitors with no interest in the website. Marketers call this targeted traffic and there are many discussions ad nauseam about getting traffic to the website.
Large amounts of website traffic used to be considered an assurance of potential customers, but in reality, it is not an assurance of paying and profit-generating customers. The most successful marketing campaigns do increase website traffic but they also increase conversion rates at the same time. Large amounts of traffic without conversions is a vanity metric, and therefore meaningless. It would be to the greatest advantage of a particular business to have only 100 website visitors where most would convert into paying customers, instead of getting thousands of traffic that do not generate any profit at all.
19: SEO is dead
SEO is very much alive, although the digital landscape have changed. These days, people trained in SEO have to continuously update their practice with each search engine algorithm update. The major search engines such as Google are preventing bad content from being found by users. This means manipulative tactics (buying links, spamming, private blog networks) and poor quality websites are slowly being eradicated. When people say that certain SEO practices no longer work, this does not mean that SEO itself is dead. After all, most searches start from the search engines and this will be true as long as search engines are alive. SEO is simply becoming more sophisticated and less partial to manipulative tactics. Instead of wasting time in fooling the search engines, marketers should create better content that people will want to find.
20: “My competitors are not into digital marketing, so why should I?”
This is a notion wherein no action is being taken until there is an indication of attack. This attitude is a complacent one, trusting that their current customer will continue to patronize their businesses through traditional means and channels.
Much has changed in marketing and the behavior of consumers is the driving force. Consumption of content via digital channels mean marketers can no longer ignore their customer’s needs. In the competitive marketplace, consumers can quickly find a more reliable and up to date brand.
The marketplace decides the victor in their digital marketing efforts. Potential shifts in the digital landscape means marketers have to adapt quickly to new channels of marketing and technology. Digital marketing lies once had a grain of truth in them; the evolving marketplace does not care for that, only results. Businesses have to be prepared for paradigm shifts in marketing or they will be left far behind. What works today may not work tomorrow so businesses cannot hold onto the same marketing concepts for long.
Structured learning or deep learning has come to the fore again as many of the world’s biggest tech companies start to buy into this intelligent technology. Google, Microsoft, Baidu and Facebook are just some of the brand names implementing artificial intelligence.
But what is deep learning and how will it impact search for users of search engines? How will the implementation of AI change SEO (search engine optimization) for the future?
Using Artificial Intelligence SEO
The concept of deep learning started with Geoffrey Hinton, who works for Google and the University of Toronto. For the last two decades, Hinton have pushed forward the idea of neural networks and sophisticated deep learning. As a result artificial intelligence technologies are quickly making an impact on search companies. Real behavioural learning in artificial intelligence is relatively affordable to implement and can impact search algorithms greatly for the future. The reason why deep learning didn’t take off in the 90s was due to inadequate data and chip processing abilities. In 2017, technology has evolved to the extent that deep learning can be implemented by companies. A forerunner in augmented intelligence, Clarifai uses this technology for content curation and advertising. Rand Fishkin of SEO company Moz have said that deep learning involving neural networks may well be the future of SEO. Currently, IBM’s Watson Analytics allows small startup businesses to find relational and predictive information in their data.
As the world’s most valuable search engine, Google is at the forefront of analyzing images and language. In 2014 Google acquired DeepMind and deep learning is constantly tested on the image captions and description of visual content. For example, after watching a video on YouTube, search engines aim to use deep learning technology to describe the content. Facebook AI Research (FAIR) shows commitment to deeper learning as well in the facial recognition software and open source modules for Torch. Recently, Facebook’s CIO Mike Schroepfer stated that Facebook’s AI technology has the ability to recognize actions in videos uploaded. Another example of machine learning applied is the how-old.net facial recognition created by Microsoft Project Oxford. The setting up process from the Machine Learning APIs to the analytics took 24 hours.
Using Artificial Intelligence SEO would change the way internet users input search and get search engines to retrieve the relevant information. Firstly, deep learning for algorithms will allow for more accurate search results according to the user’s needs. Secondly, irrelevant information will be filtered out using AI technology; it will be harder for SEO marketers to spam or trick search engine algorithms. Thirdly, search engines will create a profile for the user so that all future searches are customized for interest, location and purchasing intention.
Marketing implications of artificial intelligence SEO
The integration of artificial intelligence in search is imminent and marketers will have to adjust the way they do SEO. Marketing is becomingly increasingly user centric and SEO is no exception. Social networking sites and visual content can bring more value to users than ever before. What catches the eye and deliver valuable content will have greater authority on search engines. Hubspot’s research shows that interesting visual elements could generate 94% more views and 37% more engagement; this is the determining factor of future search rankings. In addition to better rankings for visual rich content, black hat SEO methods will be eliminated by intelligent algorithms. Another possibility for SEO is knowing what content is optimized for which device screens. Some of the highly visual content may be ranked higher for virtual reality devices than for mobile.
These days there reputable tech brands that have started utilizing virtual reality technology. Top brands such as Sony, Samsung, Facebook, and Google, all have entered into the realm of virtual reality. By the end of 2016, more than around 15 million people have experienced the magic of virtual reality. And, experts claim that by the end of 2018, there will be around 38 million people who will own a virtual device of some kind. The adoption of the virtual reality technology is really fast, and there is a widespread acceptance of this technology.
What is virtual reality technology?
Virtual reality is actually a channel and not a device. Just like the smartphones, which were considered to be mere tools for digital communication, often the concept of virtual reality is misleading to consumers. However, the concept of virtual reality is fast taking off and this technology is going to make a great impact in the near future. Today, it is changing the way the companies are planning their digital marketing. Given below is a list of possible changes that the virtual reality technology will bring to the ways the companies do online marketing:
Facebook, one of the most popular social networking platforms has hired senior Apple engineer Michael Hillman to push the design and performance of VR headsets even further. The company invested millions of dollars in collaborating with the companies that are based on virtual reality technology. Facebook 360 For Gear VR App will allow users to view content in the optimal VR format. This move by one of the social media giants is an example that more and more companies will now ride the virtual reality bandwagon to promote their goods, products, and services in the digital world.
The Facebook acquired company Oculus VR is providing the users with new platforms to connect to each other and to exchange information. The virtual space can be used by the companies to build products, apps, and services built around the virtual reality technology. Just like the companies that have adapted well to the Internet and the app evolutions, it is expected that the concept of virtual reality will go in well with the brands and the companies doing online marketing.
Virtual reality technology will be integrated with the wearable devices too. Just like the future of smart watches, which is not just a watch but can be used for so many purposes, the virtual reality will also get integrated with the wearable devices like phones, personal accessories, and glasses. Companies and brands that are thinking of doing Internet marketing for the connected devices, will benefit from the mass-market virtual reality technology.
With the advent of virtual reality technology, there will also be an increase in the number of applications for fashion and beauty. The technology of virtual reality has a lot of scope for beauty, fashion, and style. There will be opportunity for the customers to try out different things and evaluate what works the best before investing money in those.
There will be endless opportunities for digital marketers. Now, companies will exist in the virtual space altogether. Now, not just for gaming, the technology of virtual reality, together with the high-end graphics quality, its bandwidth, collaboration, and access to information will make virtual reality driven marketing exciting.
Brand placements in virtual reality: companies such as Advir allows brands to promote their content to VR users. They connect to ad networks and support video, display contents.
Remember, with the full-fledged use of virtual reality, there will be fewer instances of face-to-face meetings and conferences. The companies that are involved in digital marketing should be able to reach virtually and thus, directly to the customers. More than concentrating on the sale and promotion of the products and services, the virtual reality will lead to better relationships between the customers and the companies. The augmented reality will become an important factor in marketing and communication by the companies. There will be lots of opportunities to innovate with factors like deeper user control, social applications, and unlimited perspectives, as well as physical objectives being made virtual.
Uses of virtual reality technology for digital marketing
One of the main reasons for using virtual reality for digital marketing is that it involves a high level of engagement. If you want to improve your online marketing results, it would be better to integrate this form of marketing with the virtual reality.
You must remember that today, multi-tasking is difficult, especially in a situation where you are using too many gadgets for different purposes. The virtual reality will help you with an overall engulfing experience. Digital marketing with the help of virtual reality will actually benefit consumers. Now, the marketers will aim at solving problems, making information searching easier, and increasing engagement of the users. The virtual world will really become an extremely fertile ground for the creation of new digital content.
With the advent of the virtual reality technology, the brands will be able to create advertising campaigns that will be interactive and engaging. Branding could be integrated to gaming and thus, the power of virtual reality is realized.
It is common for businesses to stay within the limits that their executives are comfortable with. For small or medium sized businesses, such a scenario is common. The executives believe that they have a good grasp of the behaviors of their customers with respect to the sales cycle. As such, they begin to act without opting for in-depth research to back them up. In other words, such executives make the marketing decisions for their business on the basis of their expectations of their customers. They labor under the false belief that they are thoroughly familiar with their niche and tend to resist change. This behavior often causes them to ignore significant beneficial digital marketing concepts and strategies such as SEO.
Long term importance of SEO
To convince executives of the importance of SEO, they have to know the long term business advantages search engine optimization can bring.
SEO can bring better online reputation
In order to remain competitive in the fast paced world of business today, it has become critical for the executives to broaden their horizons. Newer methods of improving profits must be discovered and ensured that they are cost effective. Nowadays, online marketing has become one of the best methods due to the incredible and large number of opportunities it offers to all kinds of businesses. Among the various methodologies available in this particular marketing strategy, SEO happens to be one of the most important.
If it is implemented in the correct manner, SEO can help your business achieve a credibility and reputation that is otherwise hard to achieve. This is made possible through the achievement of a greater visibility on search engines. The higher positions for your website makes it easier for your prospective customers to locate your business, thereby increasing the chances of attracting qualified leads who will visit your website through the search results and end up purchasing your services.
Therefore, it is important for executives to be aware of this promising marketing methodology. It is crucial for you to help your executives to ensure the proper implementation of the SEO services so that the maximum benefits of the process can be derived. You need to present actionable facts for the executives to take notice.
The majority of consumer use search engines
As a business, you will be offering products, services and discounts to your customers. However, the question remains as to how your customers can locate you in order to make the purchases. As per statistics, the majority of online shopping originates through search engines. If your SEO is good, you will find your website listed on the first page of the search engine results. Of course, you need to use the keywords that are related to your website and products. Your customers are rarely interested in anything more than the results on the first page and will certainly click your links if they are present.
The whole process is very convenient for customers and also for your business. After all, you are able to attract a sizable number of customers to your business, many of whom can be new ones. At the same time, you will be standing apart from the rest of your competitors.
SEO helps consumers find what they need
It is important to understand the way your customers tend to think in order to make your marketing a success. Decisions should not be based on what you or the executives believe will work or will be appropriate for your business. Instead, importance should be given to the customers and their perspectives.
This approach is important when it comes to SEO. Instead of using the keywords you think will be good, you need to research and find out the keywords that are actually being used by your target audience. You should optimize the content of your website with those keywords in the appropriate manner. You also require a user friendly website design that revolves around the customers and their needs. Google likes such optimization tactics and makes your website stand out further by awarding a higher rank. That in turn leads to more customers.
SEO is one of the most cost effective methods available
There are various kinds of digital marketing tactics including PPC. Most of them need a budget in order to be effective. On the other hand, SEO is cheaper in the long run. There is no need to pay any third party such as Google in order to get rankings. All you need to do is hire quality SEO servicesto optimize the website for you. Apart from this cost, there are no other expenses or investments to be made. At the same time, you can reap rich dividends and rewards through the proper optimization. SEO tends to be a long term investment which means you will still be getting the benefits for years.
The benefits brought by SEO to digital marketing are immense. It has become a necessity for businesses to ensure that their websites are optimized for visibility or else it will be too difficult to attract customers. You need to showcase the benefits and importance of SEO clearly to the executives so that they can take the necessary steps to implement it for business success.
If your business is on the web already, it’s time that you focus on technical SEO for improved online visibility. Not only will it prepare your website for easier crawling by Google, it would help your business get the much needed structural leverage. Good technical SEO lays the foundations for ongoing SEO. Through better search results visibility, your website will gain targeted traffic from the search engines which may convert into sales. Every business wants targeted leads, long term growth and ethical, organic SEO is certainly one of the most effective marketing methods.
The term technical SEO often fills website owners with dread. Many think you need a PhD in computer science to navigate the source code and IP redirections. Don’t know what a source code is? Many website owners think they don’t have the expertise to carry out technical SEO audits, but really that is not true. Although outsourcing technical SEO audits to agencies is a smart investment for website owners, knowing the basics will improve the overall performance of your website.
These days, good content is intrinsically linked to search engine optimization. Website owners have to think of ways to integrate website content and technical SEO for optimal online visibility. Finding a balance between high quality content that is relevant to target customers and onsite technical SEO will ensure that valuable leads are being directed to your business.
Do you need ongoing technical SEO?
In a word: yes. Ongoing technical SEO is important for optimizing your website’s performance. The right SEO services will take into account your website’s structure and maintain/update this where necessary. It is advisable to get the technical SEO right along with the UX design of your website. If you do not have a website design that is compatible with your search engine marketing goals, then this will hinder your chances of success.
Another reason for ongoing technical SEO is to avoid penalties by the search engines. The position of your website will not be penalized if you follow search engine optimization techniques properly. Even until a few years ago, all you needed to achieve good ranks in search engines were website pages with images, a good site structure, keyword stuffed pages, and keyword rich meta titles. But now, that is not enough! If you want your website to gain targeted traffic for 2016 and beyond, you will need to update your technical SEO.
Effective SEO services will note the pitfalls, and create an optimized website with all the vital SEO elements in place for your website to gain traction. One of the great misconceptions of SEO is that you can do it for a few months and forget about it. This is risky because your old SEO methods could be penalized once a new algorithm update rolls out. Always check Google Webmaster Guidelines for updates.
If you really want to gain traction on the internet, building connections with other authoritative websites, perfecting your content and keeping track of website analytics will help you fare better in the years to come.
Another misconception of SEO is that high volumes of traffic equates to success. It is definitely important to have a large number of traffic, but it is more important to gain high quality and targeted traffic to your website. If you can align technical SEO with your KPIs (key performance indicators, for instance 200% increase in conversions), then it is far more fruitful.
Combining technical SEO with great content
Amongst other things that you do in technical SEO, a few important ones are implementing sitemap.xml, ensuring page titles are less than 65 characters, and optimizing the robots.txt. When technical SEO is combined with great content marketing, it can provide you with high-value linkbacks, social recognition, viral information sharing, and a large number of click-throughs or visitors to your website. Again, if the demands on your time is too much, you can always choose to outsource parts of content marketing and SEO to an experienced digital marketing company.
Can you just do technical SEO by itself?
A question that is asked often by website owners: can you rely on technical SEO by itself?
The answer to this is a simple no.
We mentioned above that a combination of technical search engine optimization and content marketing would really improve your search engine marketing. Content and search engine optimization cannot thrive without each other.
The fact is that SEO on its own can just reach up to a certain level when it comes to attracting traffic to your website. Although you can use the 301 redirect strategy to bring a substantial amount of traffic to the site, you cannot expect a large amount of traffic just by doing technical SEO. It is the same for website optimization with well chosen keywords. Good keywords will only get you so far for search engine visibility (perhaps through Pay Per Click); you still need other Internet marketing techniques such as targeted content to attract useful traffic.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Remember, almost everyone on the Internet is doing SEO. Being the best at technical SEO will not guarantee higher conversions from your traffic or even recognition as an authoritative website in your industry. It’s how you implement a multitude of marketing methods that determines the success of your website.
As internet based technologies develop and advance at a rapid pace, the sizes of websites and individual web-pages are on the rise as well. They are increasing in complexity which increases their size. While the implementation of the latest technologies is certainly a bonus for the visitors, the bounce rates will go up if it does not load quickly. The abandonment of your website by visitors will certainly decrease your conversions and business revenue.
What slows down a website?
There are a variety of reasons which can lead to a decrease in the speed and performance of a website. Some common causes include data influx, competing resources or low server memory. The performance of the website will also be affected if the web server which hosts it becomes slow. Various aspects of the website can affect its performance such as the website design, apps, images and navigation setup. Additionally, the loading times will increase for a website which is receiving a lot of traffic. In some cases, it can result in the complete disruption of the experience of the user.
Irrespective of the cause of the problem, the fact is that you will be losing out on revenue if the speed and performance of the website is not optimized. Therefore, you should never stop the performance of the website from being monitored. In fact, you should get a digital marketing expert specifically for monitoring the performance, the design, loading times and conversion rates on a continual basis.
Poor website performance affects conversions
There are many businesses that do not yet realize the importance of their websites’ performance. According to statistics, an average shopper will expect a website to load within a couple of seconds. If your website does not load that quickly, you may be losing a significant amount of potential sales. Poor website performance is a major reason for the dissatisfaction of online customers. People will move on to a competing site or abandon yours completely rather than wait for it to load. Even Google has underlined the importance of fast loading websites by implementing website speed as a ranking factor in their algorithms.
Website design can affect performance
As the usage of mobile phones is on the rise, people often use their mobile devices to browse websites. They want the same website with the same experience to open up on those devices that they have found while using their computers. Responsive web designs will ensure that your website looks the same irrespective of the device being used to view it. However, this does not mean that responsive web designs will speed up the loading times of the website. You will still need to get it optimized so as to reduce the waiting times and improve the performance.
Methods to optimize websites and improve performance
There are quite a few methods through which you can optimize the performance of your website. You can use a webpage analyzer tool to check the website and find out which areas of the site are taking the most time to load. Of course, you can then get a digital marketing agency to remove all nonessential code from the website. There are other methods which you can undertake for maximizing the performance.
Use a dedicated server
A good way to improve the performance of the website would be to change the server and opt for a faster one. A dedicated server will be the best solution for websites with heavy traffic. Of course, the cost of a dedicated server will be higher than other hosting plans. On the other hand, a slow server will cause you to lose a lot of money through a decrease in sales in the long run.
Content delivery network
Compression of content
A good way to improve the performance of the website and decrease the loading times would be to compress the text and images especially if you are opting for content marketing. This reduces the amount of data that a server needs to deliver. Quite a few hosting providers will automatically compress the websites. On the other hand, there are various tools which can be used for testing the compression of websites.
Opting for a user friendly web design can help in ensuring that the performance of your website is good. Nonetheless, you should continue to monitor and improve the performance regularly.
Link building is an essential part of search engine optimization. If you have already opted for SEO services for your website, you will certainly have heard of it. It has become one of the mainstays of SEO as building and maintaining high quality links are given more importance by search engines. It is essential for you to understand how to use these links in your SEO campaigns if you wish to make your website a success.
Link building is simply the process of getting links to your own website from other high authority sites. A link is, of course, a method which allows visitors to move between two pages which can be within the same website or another one. Search engines make use of these links as a ranking factor for the websites. Links can be built in a number of ways and these methods can be anything from easy to difficult.
The fact remains that link building for SEO is quite hard, especially if they are of a high quality. This is true even for seasoned SEO experts. Therefore, it is essential to learn how to build links of a high quality properly as that can ensure the success of your digital marketing efforts.
How do search engines use back links?
It is important for you to know about the fundamentals of link building for SEO if you wish to implement them. For that, knowledge of the relationship between search engines and links are important.
Search engines make use of links in two basic ways. The search engine can use the links to discover new webpages. The links are also used to determine the rank that should be given to the page in the search results pages.
After search engine bots have completed crawling the webpages, the content from those pages are extracted and added to the index. Through this method, the search engine determines the rank that should be given on the basis of the keywords and content quality. At the same time, the search engine also checks the links which have originated from other sources to that page along with the quality of the source websites. This will also affect the ranking, which is to be awarded to the page. If you have more links from high quality websites, you will get a better rank.
A history of links as a factor for ranking
It was through the use of links as a factor for ranks that Google began its meteoric rise. Google was also responsible for the creation of PageRank. This allowed Google to check the quality of each webpage by taking into consideration the number of inbound links. It became a part of the ranking algorithm. Links were considered to be an important factor as it could be used to determine the overall quality of a webpage.
A link was thought of as a vote of confidence as people would only make links if the page was good. Based on this idea, links came to be considered an effective ranking factor. Unfortunately, this became a problem later. SEO experts could manipulate the PageRank in order to get a better ranking for their websites. Many of them began to submit their websites to the various web directories so that they could get the necessary links to boost the ranks. This caused Google to respond by adding filters to its search algorithms to stop such websites from ranking higher. Additionally, Google took steps to reduce the value given to such.
In recent times, Google has begun to actively penalize the websites which have tried to increase their ranks by using too much of these techniques. Google uses its Penguin algorithm to find out those which are over-optimizing their pages with such techniques and penalizing them. It is important to stay within the guidelines stated by Google when link building for SEO if you wish to ensure that your website does not lose its rank.
The advantages of link building for SEO
It is possible to increase the odds of getting a better rank if you get more high quality links for your website. At the same time, there are other advantages of building links.
You can build relationships while building links
When you are trying to increase your inbound links, you will have to reach out to the right websites that operate within your industry. This gives you an opportunity to foster strong ties and relationships with other people, many of whom can be industry leaders and influencers. The presence of a strong relationship can help your business seem trusted.
Increase of referral traffic
The primary purpose of link building for SEO is to direct the visitor to other webpages. By getting links from websites that register a lot of traffic, you will certainly have some of them being diverted to your site as visitors start clicking your links. Moreover, the referred traffic can be easily converted which will certainly increase sales.
You should not underestimate the importance of link building for your digital marketing needs. At the same time ensure that your SEO services are building the links properly.