With the end of the world behind us (we made it!) and 2013 just a few days away, it may be time for us to start looking ahead. In 2012, the world of online marketing took some hard turns and some trends have begun that will carry us into the next year.
I won’t ramble about what happened in 2012. Instead, I’d like to focus on some actionable items that will play a larger role in your online marketing success in 2013, based on changes and shifts we’re already seeing.
8. Pay per click
If you have been putting off pay per click (PPC) marketing, I have some unfortunate news for you: search marketing is increasingly becoming a paid game. First, Google announced that Google Shopping results are now “Pay to play.” Meaning, if you want your product feed to receive the benefits of higher clickthrough rates and conversion rates that come with Google Shopping results, you need to integrate that feed with your AdWords account.
Second, we’re seeing search engine results pages (SERPs) increasingly dominated by paid results. Between Shopping results, regular PPC ads and the increasing availability of rich snippets, organic results are being pushed out of view. Below is what I see above the fold (view of the SERP without scrolling) following a search for a new camera:
I see a total of eight full paid ads and just 2 ½ organic listings. Plus, how can I resist clicking on those Shopping results in the upper-right corner?
7. Company Blog
The trend for the past two years will continue: Fresh, quality content is crucial to maintaining favorable organic rankings. Search engines want to present sites that offer continuous and useful content for their audience. It isn’t always easy for what some would consider “boring” industries, but you need to find a way to always add value to your website.
6. Get Involved
This goes hand-in-hand with our previous point of audience engagement. However, it isn’t limited to online efforts. Get involved with your community with events, sponsorships, charities, speaking engagements, etc. Not only can this fuel your blogging efforts, but it generates valuable natural links and can get your brand covered elsewhere on the web.
Whether it is on your site (i.e. product reviews for Ecommerce sites) or local reviews such as Google+ Local and Yelp, you should be encouraging your customers to leave reviews. From a local standpoint, this is an organic ranking factor. From a usability standpoint, this can help boost your brand in the eyes of consumers because on average, users read seven reviews.
Even negative reviews can be leveraged for positive results. If someone leaves a negative review, respond to it positively, take responsibility for their negative experience and determine if you can remedy the situation. It may not always change that consumer’s mind, but it shows others who are reading your reviews that you value their opinion and care about their experience.
4. Social Media
This one should come as no surprise. Social media is an excellent way to connect and engage with your consumers and build new ones. However, it is important to note that not all social networks are a good fit for your brand. If you are a manufacturer of industrial generators, for example, chances are you won’t see much success on Pinterest, which is largely for retail, food, home living, art and health products.
Additionally, search engines are using social queues (+1′s, Likes, Tweets) as ranking factors in organic results. The more you build a following and engage with customers, the more you will be rewarded in search.
3. Semantic Markup
Semantic markup is basically code that you can add to your page that gives search engines a more human-like understanding of your content. So, for example, where search engines would normally see a heading, a subheading and some paragraphs on a page, they would now understand that the heading is a title of an article, the subheading is the author of that article and the paragraphs are content about a certain subject.
Not only does giving search engines an improved understanding of your content help it rank better, but semantic markup can also produce rich snippets in search results. Rich snippets are those pieces of information that are pulled into a search result aside from the title and description.
In the result above, in addition to the standard title tag and description, you can see:
- Rating: Those 5 stars are rather eye-catching.
- Reviews: We see that there are 125 reviews, and can expect to read them by clicking on the result
- Prep Time: We know exactly what kind of time commitment we’ll need if we explore this recipe further.
- Nutritional Information: Only 81.2 calories for one of my favorite holiday dishes!? Sign me up!
- Image: We are visual beings. Seeing that savory dish and what to expect is a great way to increase your clickthrough rate.
Currently, with rich snippets, you can highlight recipes (as shown above), events, authors, prices and products for Ecommerce sites. However, search engines have made it quite clear that these capabilities will continue to expand into other segments. Read up on the most common type of semantic markup at schema.org.
We mentioned social media and reviews, but Google+ deserves a special mention. If your brand is going to have real success in Google, you need to have a presence on Google+. Not only do +1′s help rankings, but so do reviews on your Google+ Local profile. Additionally, it is Google’s goal to intertwine all of their products with Google+, already allowing you to link your Google Webmaster Tools account to verify your brand.
Every year, we see the percentage of mobile traffic to sites taking a larger piece of the pie. With improving technology and connectivity, people are increasingly more inclined to hop on their phones to check out your site or search for something than sit at a computer.
In 2013, you should make sure your website is mobile optimized so people can easily see and navigate your site using their thumb on a small screen. We at Bevelwise recommend using responsive design, which means that a single page can automatically adjust and “adapt” to your screen size, rather than creating a separate mobile website. This not only makes site management easier, but all links you get to a single URL benefit your mobile rankings for that page as well.
So, there you have it. While this list of 8 certainly isn’t exclusive, it will give you a great start to developing an online marketing strategy for 2013.
Have a Happy New Year!