This is a guest-article series by Rebecca Haden, digital marketing guru and owner of Haden Interactive.
There are 7 Things You Need to Change in Online Marketing for 2013
There are plenty of articles out discussing how online marketing has changed, what you need to do differently this year, and so on. We think we can save you some time with our list of the seven things you really need to change (if you haven’t already).
1. Step out of your time machine. If you’re still worrying about keyword density, hits, and rank checks, you’re worrying about the wrong things. Today’s more sophisticated search engines put all their effort into providing the best experience they can to users. That means you should shift your efforts from tips and tricks to providing great content and a great experience for your visitors. If your website is already perfect, step outside it and create great content elsewhere, then use Spoke to aggregate that content where prospective partners and customers can see it.
2. Think inbound. Inbound marketing – making sure you have things that are entertaining and/or useful enough to draw people to you – is a lot more appealing to your potential customers now than outbound marketing. Your target market is willing to put a lot of energy into avoiding ads and commercials, and they also want to be able to find what they want as soon as they want it. SEO in 2013 is about being easily found when your prospect is ready, not about pushing yourself in front of lots of eyeballs.
3. Notice – don’t obsess over – algorithm changes. Search engines like Google and Bing change their algorithms frequently. The two big Google algorithm changes people have been talking about most are Panda, which cracked down on poor quality and duplicate content, and Penguin, which cracked down on poor quality link building. Notice the “cracked down” part. Poor content and sneaky link building were never a good idea-- they’re just much harder to get away with now. Use high quality sites like Spoke.com as part of your overall content marketing and linkbuilding strategy.
4. Keep up with the new tools. While algorithm changes can create problems, especially if you’ve been stuck in that time machine or sailing near the wind (to mix metaphors), missing new tools means missing opportunities. Social media tools that let you manage your various profiles more efficiently, reputation management tools like Spoke, and collaboration tools all can help you extend and strengthen your online presence.
5. Focus on conversion. In the early days of the internet, there was less competition and search engines were not as smart. Simply having a website gave you a great advantage over most physical-world competitors. Now, you probably have plenty of competition and your visitors have plenty of choices. Getting people to your website now requires a lot more effort, both on your site and in social media, than it used to. It makes more sense than ever to work on improving your conversion rates, not just your traffic.
6. Get mobile. The proportion of web visitors using mobile devices is increasing at a startling rate. Are you keeping up? Your website needs to look good on phones and tablets, but you should also check the user experience on mobile devices. Can your visitors easily accomplish their goals – and yours? Check things like your newsletter sign up form, your social media “Follow” and “Like” buttons, and any quote request or appointment setting tools.
7. Use your data. Big Data is big news, and you can get some of the benefits even if you’re a small company or private practice. Free services like Google Analytics let you capture an amazing amount of data about your website visitors. Facebook Insights is another valuable source of feedback on your online presence. This is also the perfect year to start A/B testing. Web content, email marketing, and SEO strategy should be based on data, not on gut feelings.
There are lots of frills and flourishes you can add if you are already doing all these things (microdata, anyone?), but these are the basics that will make the most difference for you in 2013.