2014 Digital Marketing Predictions: Be Where Your Audience Is
Buyers are continually evolving, and their changing online behaviours will dictate where you should be focusing your digital marketing efforts in 2014 – at Mediative we have some predictions of what we think will be important to the continued growth in digital maturity and connecting with customers online.
Driven by the growth in usage of mobile devices, and the increase in demand by consumers of mobile friendly websites, apps and feature, mobile will be a huge focus for many, if not all companies in 2014. This isn’t a prediction – we know mobile is driving, and will continue to drive, digital strategy.
Those who are not ‘doing mobile’, absolutely must. And those that are must keep abreast of all the changes that are inevitably going to happen over the next 12 months.
- If you don’t have a mobile-optimized website, you need one. Period. Since the Hummingbird algorithm update, if content is not easily viewable on a smartphone, it is almost useless. Check out Mediative’s new eBook which covers the two core pillars of mobile marketing – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and User Experience (UX).
- Mobile purchases are becoming more accepted. Optimize your mobile shopping experience so users can make purchases on their mobile devices.
- Ads are going to become more hyperlocal – taking into account the location, time, and environment of the mobile user, and serving up ads relevant to those factors, which is likely to increase CTRs. Users are bombarded with ads, and the more relevant the ads can be to the user’s needs and wants at a particular moment in time, the more successful they will be.
- Google is trying to get better at parsing voice commands and questions from mobile devices. Optimizing your site for mobile search is critical to address this.
Content marketing isn’t new. Many companies already have robust content marketing strategies in place, producing resources and information in digestible formats. What is new are the formats available:
- The rise of applications such as Vine and Instagram highlight the importance that users are placing on social video and imagery. This blog post gives some great tips on using Instagram for business.
- Use video, pictures, infographics, etc. to add variety to your content and increase the chances of attracting attention. More companies are embracing these tools as inexpensive and quick ways to convey brand messages (and using relevant alt and meta tags with each image will also add to your SEO efforts.)
- Test new advertising units e.g. the Rising Star ad unit. According to the IAB, the rising star ad units “offer advertisers creative and compelling ways to connect with the quality audiences they want, and are designed to provide a richer canvas for creating highly-impactful and engaging brand experiences at scale.”
Social and Local
Google has a strong position in search but is increasingly layering in social, and is likely to continue to take social signals into account when determining what is good content.
- Make is easy for people to share your content via social media.
- Learn more about optimizing your local business Facebook page, and optimizing for Facebook Graph Search.
- Invest in Google+ – it’s playing an increasingly significant role in SEO ranking. Establish authorship of your content and tie to your Google+ which adds credibility to your content, and helps with SEO rankings.
- Mark-up your content using schema.org to describe different pieces of content on a webpage in order to help search engines better understand the context of a page, and improve the search results for users.
- Maximize your chances of getting into Google’s Carousel – a row of images across the top of the results pages against a dark background that show for searches in certain categories, mainly those in the Travel and Hospitality industry. These results are pulled from Wikipedia and Google Freebase.
- Ensure that you have at least some sort of presence in Wikipedia (e.g. citations).
- Ensure you have set-up and optimized a Google Places for Business and Google+ page, include high resolution, unique images (ensure that your images are optimized using best practices found in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines), and encourage customers to review your business.
- Look into getting into Freebase (view Freebase FAQs here).
- Ensure you optimize your site for local SEO;
The focus on quality websites with quality content is still top priority.
What does Google have up its sleeve for algorithm updates in 2014? Isn’t that the million dollar question! While hard to know exactly what Google will do next, savvy SEO marketers with their finger on the pulse will have a pretty good idea, and responding quickly to Google’s algorithm changes can mean the difference between losing traffic and ranking, and not.
Google has taken a major stance against spam in recent years, with a focus on ranking quality sites higher in the SERP. There would be no reason for Google to stop these continual micro-updates to Panda and Penguin to ensure spammy sites are penalized – therefore, there should be no change to what you are already doing to ensure the effects of these two updates are minimalized for your website.
- More than ever it’s critical to have a strong content marketing strategy, with continually updated, fresh content, aimed at helping your audience find what they want, in the language they use.
- Long Content vs Short Content? We’re often hearing about how users want content “snippets” or “nuggets” that can be read and digested easily and quickly, especially with the rise in use of search on mobile devices. But this isn’t necessarily going to help with Google rankings. Length of content can be seen as authoritativeness on a topic, which Google values. Therefore, content marketers need to create content that is short enough to be easily digestible on a mobile device, but long enough that Google deems it to be of value to the reader.
- Use high-quality guest blogging to build inbound links and increase exposure. But be mindful of Google’s opinion on guest blogging to build links.
- A full backlink analysis becomes more important as sites with poor backlink profiles will be penalized. Quality not quantity! Check out our link building cheat sheet for the modern SEO.
- With Google no longer providing organic referral keywords, focusing on page level metrics and engagement will prove beneficial as you work on enhancing your page content and strive to drive more qualified traffic to your site.
In August 2013, Google released the Hummingbird update, moving to more conversational search, to provide smarter search results, quicker. Google focuses on interpretation of the answer that a user is looking for when they perform a query, ranking sites better for relevance.
Areas that you need to continue to consider as you go into 2014 as a result of Hummingbird are:
- The need for keyword analysis and keyword research has never been more important. Pay attention to hyper long-tail keyword queries.
- Pay attention to what your audience is searching for. Enhance your existing content to ensure the messaging on your site is clear, concise and relevant. Understanding the relationships, concepts and questions that your audience is seeking answers to.
- Improve the level of detail in your product/solution descriptions, articles or blog posts – build themes and interlink relevant content where you have optimized for similar terms and topics.
- Do not keyword stuff content but be aware of the semantic relationships of topics and phrases that you are optimizing for.
In 2014, focus less on chasing the algorithm but more in understanding on why the algorithm changed. Google is moving to more conversational search and you need to produce content so that it is both Web and Mobile friendly. Focus less on specific keywords but more on content themes and semantics. 2013 saw a fundamental shift in how Google is approaching Search. Are you ready for what is in store for 2014?
Ultimately, local, social and SEO are converging – you can’t really concentrate on one area, without focusing on the others, and doing so could quickly dissipate your efforts. Capitalize on the synergy that these tactics produce when a holistic approach is taken. There’s always going to be a new gimmick/tool/trend that can be tested. The key thing to remember is;
- How are your customers finding your business?
- Is this new trend where your customers are?
We’re not saying don’t pay attention to the latest trends, and what everyone is talking about, but make sure it’s the right means of communicating with your audience specifically. Respond to your customers’ wants and needs, and build a strategy around your customer, not the latest trend.