SEO is changing so fast; you always need to keep your finger on the pulse of recent trends and news. Moreover, we all want to be a few steps ahead.
Today, we're featuring speakers from SAScon, one of the best SEO conferences in the U.K., on the blog. Take a look into the future, and get the answer to this question — What should be done today to be successful tomorrow?
Diversify your digital marketing. Google continues to move the goalposts depending on who pissed off Matt Cutts and what phase of the moon we're in. Facebook is making you pay for every follower, and then pay again to talk to that follower. And who knows where Twitter is heading in its desperate attempt to prove its IPO value. All of this is bad news for businesses trying to build an audience and attract potential customers online.
Every single channel is unreliable and prone to overnight transformation. So, the only sensible approach is to diversify your acquisition channels as much as you possibly can. Do everything, and do it well, because if you rely too heavily on one tactic the day will inevitably come when one update or another is going to lay waste to your traffic flow.
Companies can start planning for the future now by storing data from apps and mobile website interactions – even if they are not sure what they are going to do with it yet. The cost of data storage is so low and can be very powerful for marketing to that particular customer in the future. Or for data aggregation, to help understand more about how your customers behave and what they want when they are using your mobile app or site. There are even other ways that this kind of data might be able to be monetized while still protecting the privacy of the users. These are things I will talk about in my presentation.
Think big — You may only be a startup or small business now, but you might grow to become a large agency.
By planning for this growth from day 1, you will start to send the right brand signals — not just to Google — but also via social networks and all the other online hubs that your potential client base hangs out in. However, remember: Rome was not built in a day. While short cuts may seem appealing now, what happens when the rules change and you are left with a lot of signals you may not want anymore? (And that is a voice of experience!)
It all depends on the actual business model. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe here.
I am sure a popular reply would be, "Start building your brand" — and apparently that makes sense for brands or potential brands. Once you are a brand and your customers think of you whenever they think of the type of products/services you offer, they will expect you to be ranking when they search for that product or service. And Google (or whatever search engine will matter in the future) will have to keep it in mind. Just remember all the big brands getting penalized only to get back within weeks or even days. But — and it's a big BUT — not everyone is a brand, nor is it always necessary for a site to be synonymous with a brand, nor is it even possible in some verticals.
For example, I once advised a certain online pharmacy on building a genuine brand, long-term, as clean as possible in that niche. They did make quite a bit of progress. However, this is rather an exception to the rule than a rule. Sometimes the rules are very different and you have to do whatever it takes — if it means repeating a short-term model to scale it to long-term results then, IMHO, so be it. In which case, learn to minimize the costs of rolling out new throwaway sites, and learn to rank them fast enough. Invest into aged domains if you need to. Establish lucrative partnerships. Or better yet, figure out how not to depend on one traffic source only.
A lot of the changes we're seeing online right now come from the increase in the amount of data that the various networks (Google, Bing, Facebook, etc.) have about users.
Google and Facebook are able to capture vast amounts of information about their users, and crucially, they also have the resources to be able to make use of this information to be able to profile the audiences appropriately. You see this a lot with the way Facebook surfaces content that's likely to be of most interest to you based on your connections, and also how Google Now is becoming more effective at providing useful prompts based on your behavior and online relationships.
When you listen to how guys like Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg talk about users, there's an idealism about what they want online that you don't always see reflected in the way that businesses conduct themselves. Digital marketing is often generic, faceless and dull. In a future where results are tailored on a combination of brand, personalization and measurable customer satisfaction and quality, it's going to be a lot tougher to rank at #1 for everyone.
I think as marketers we need to start investing a lot more in actually analyzing who our market is, and tailoring our online messaging more appropriately to them. Treating our customers as individuals with a lifetime value, rather than as a one-off click/conversion in analytics will be a step in the right direction.
The one thing I'd do today is to invest in a brand. Not necessarily in the sense of a Facebook or an Apple. Those businesses don't really have much in common with the real world. I mean a brand in the sense of a dialogue between customers and business. Spend time today finding out what your customers and potential customers want from a company, and point your ship in that direction. Find out what you're good at now, and what people recognize you for being. Differentiate by being better than everyone else in terms of how you understand customer need in your sector and you'll become the leader.
In the long-term, things like search are only going to get more squeezed. Overall, because so many people try to differentiate on price, margins are only going to get tighter. If you focus on creating a brand that differentiates by knowing what customers want, and how to service their needs better than other people, you can avoid the race to the bottom.
Start honing and targeting your social content. Put your content in context. Make it relevant. Measure it comprehensive. And then optimize.
Companies that marry the data from audience insights with their creative output and then gather real-time analysis will be the winners in the future. Their content will resonate, they will maximize their investment and, ultimately, they will prove the ROI.
Wearable technology is likely to grow in popularity in the coming years, and the best thing you can do right now is try it out to see how comfortable you feel with the idea of wearable fitness trackers, cameras and the like. A simple fitness tracker like the the Fitbit Flex or a smart watch like the Pebble Steel is a good place to start, but if you're feeling braver, a camera like the Narrative Clip or the Autographer is worth a look.
Wearable cameras and things like Google Glass are potentially disruptive of others' comfort levels, which is one thing to consider at the moment. But over time, technology and society will find a happy medium that works well for most people.
It is hard to predict what will happen in the next few years, let alone further in the field, but one thing I do know is that when things change, new products are brought in: platforms and technologies we need to be able to react fast. But, you need to react swiftly and intelligently. The only way you can react quickly is by having as much information as possible at your fingertips.
Something I would advise is to collect data; lots and lots of it. By collecting data on your website, and the way users interact with you socially and your brand will give you valuable insight into your audience. This historical data means when new technologies come in you can predict more accurately how your users will adopt it, and if they will adopt it.
For example, when the iPad was released it took some time before the general population started to use it. But now iPads and tablets are some of the most popular home devices and are being regularly used to purchase items. Therefore, all e-commerce websites should have a tablet or responsive version. To get the design right for this you need to understand the way users follow your website for conversion. A responsive site needs to have a design that will sell and encourage conversions, and you can get the information for that by collecting data from your website. Do people use the about us page regularly? Are there key products that get the most sales? This information can affect your mobile navigation. Of course ,you can only implement so much on theory so this needs to be a fluid design process with A/B testing and tracking that can be modified.
You can never predict truly accurately, what will come up in the future. So, the best thing you can do to enable success is to start tracking and use past data to make more informed predictions.
Hummingbird continues its evolution and aims to give value to the quality of content. Fresh and original wins over content that, for years, was at the top and seemed almost impossible to unseat. This has a positive and negative side; the positive is we can move up faster, and the negative is that the positions are much more volatile. No one can guarantee being in the top three positions for an indefinite period of time.
Content marketing is the cornerstone of online marketing strategy, but not just any content. Google is rewarding long-form over short content. Ideally, beyond the 700-word mark. But, we are not robots who generate content based on rigid criteria, which is why it's OK to make a 500-word article, one 700 and another 900 words, for example.
To generate truly useful content, ask yourself the following:
- What are the needs of the people who follow my blog?
- What tools can facilitate my daily work?
- What are the latest developments in my field?
These are some of the many questions we want to find an answer to in writing an article.
I think the future of a successful SEO strategy will be determined on how responsive it is to innovations.
When your SEO strategy includes innovative methods, it automatically creates an environment where you can be much more flexible. Sometimes forgetting about long-term strategies can give you unexpected benefits like, for example, the ability to change your approach on the fly and abandon ineffective activities. Don’t be afraid of experiments because being brave is what you really need to stand out of your competition!