As 2016 draws to a close we’ve got time to reflect back on another year in the digital sphere. 2016 has provided some great opportunities to get your brand out there but it has also been challenging at times, as we come to accept the changes that are constantly put in place by the giants of the internet.
The big online marketing changes of 2016
Some of the changes we’ve witnessed this year include:
- The introduction of mobile-first indexing – Google recently announced that it is experimenting with this and that eventually:
“our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”
So, if your site is not mobile friendly you will almost certainly eventually disappear from organic search and if you don’t prioritise mobile content you may become less visible.
- The rise and growth of global spam referral visits – skewing analytics reporting and generally getting in the way of genuine traffic. There are several ways to remove this data and filter the traffic, however, experts never quite got to grips with which method was best. Ultimately it seems easier to ignore what you cannot affect and concentrate instead on your own goals, how you plan to reach them and how you’ll measure the effectiveness of a given campaign.
- The boost given to HTTPS pages – at the end of 2015 Google announced that it had changed the indexation system to look for more https pages and the popularity of secure sites has subsequently increased in 2016.
- The removal of ads from the right-hand side of the page in Google search – initial reports seemed to suggest that PLA ads benefited from increased placement and that right-hand ads were never favoured by searchers anyway, but with 10 months gone since the changes were made we haven’t seen any major dramas as a result of this change. Those worried that paid search would become more ‘cut throat’ had a right to be wary, however, CPCs continue to rise anyway and it is more about what you can do with your budget and how targeted you can make your campaign in terms of text, display and video advertising, than it is about the number of ad slots available.
- The introduction of rich cards – building on the successes of rich snippets, rich cards use schema.org markup to display content in an even more engaging way. This is perfect for sites sharing recipes and any other image rich information that you want to stand out in search.
- The continued decline of Facebook organic reach – further to the declining organic reach of the last couple of years, 2016 really saw a nail in the coffin to an organic-only Facebook strategy with publishers’ pages experiencing a 52% decline in organic reach. This means that no matter how many people like your page, a large proportion of them are not going to see the important content you have created, often with them in mind. This is because Facebook needs a way of picking out the posts that keep people coming back. With a new algorithm in June, favouring friends and family in the news feeds, it was a further blow to brands trying to reach and engage their target audience via the social network. All is not lost though, as we are still seeing really good improvements in engagement, reach and referral traffic from our customer’s Facebook pages. Video is also tipped to be a great way to increase engagement so the more video content you can get onto your social pages the more likely you are to retain that audience visibility.
Instagram users have also witnessed a decline in organic reach in 2016 and just last week, Youtube sensation and top account holder PewDiePie announced that he would be shutting down his channel on reaching 50million subscribers as changing algorithms mean fewer people are now seeing his videos.
So, where does that leave us?
Digital Marketing Trends 2017
The New Year will no doubt present its own new challenges but there will also be great opportunities to exploit new technologies and trends. We predict that the following will be key factors to successful digital marketing in 2017:
- Automation – not so much that your activity becomes robotic but just enough so that customers don’t have to wait for an initial response and that content can be drip fed into the public domain even when the offices are closed.
- Continuity – with the very real threat of your social pages being deleted if you stop updating them (Facebook has threatened to do this on a couple of redundant customer accounts this year) and the fact that the consumer can spot a mile off if you are up-to-date and or inactive from the prevalence or lack of blog and social updates, continuity in terms of your marketing strategy has never been more important.
- Integration – many businesses still view marketing channels in isolation but given that the average purchase is usually achieved through a combination of media – including paid search, organic search, social media referral and direct return visit – it is crazy to think of all these channels at your disposal as separate tools. Combine them in the right proportions, at the right time and with the right level of activity and you’ll end up with far better results.
- Going Live – there are few businesses brave enough to live stream at the moment but the marketing possibilities are out there if you stop and think about how this technology can be harnessed to help you reach your target audience. Social media users are demanding to be more ‘in the moment’ and what better way to immerse them in your brand or content than taking them with you? Think live events as a great starting point for live video streaming.
- New reality – from the Virtual Reality gaming headsets that are a popular Christmas list item to the augmented reality of roaming the streets for Pokestops earlier this year, our concepts of what is real has been challenged in 2016 and we predict it will grow and develop further in the coming twelve months.
- Cutting content – we don’t mean necessarily cutting down, but cutting through. There are so many words, images, videos and experiences out there that we are all getting too overwhelmed to bother paying attention. The winners in 2017 will be the brands who can cut through this noise to reach their target audience with specific messages that mean something to them.
What about at SEO it Right?
On a company level, 2016 has been a fantastic year. We started the year dressed up and walking the cold streets to raise money for Sport Relief, celebrated our 6th birthday in April, spent the summer delivering an awesome work experience programme for two local school pupils and an international work placement student and ended the year welcoming a new member to our team – Kostas, who comes to us as a highly-experienced developer,AdWords manager and user experience expert. If you haven’t met Kostas already or received an email from him I’m sure you’ll join us in wishing him well on his SEO it Right journey.
All that leaves me to do is thank everyone, staff, customers and followers for their continued support in 2016. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and look forward to an exciting year in 2017!
It’s that time of year when retailers shift up a gear to cope with the influx of Christmas shoppers. With more and more people shopping online – last year’s Christmas period saw a huge increase in online sales and stats are predicting further growth this year – gearing up your ecommerce site to cater for this festive audience is absolutely imperative.
So, how can you get your website ready for the Christmas shopping season? Here are our top tips:
- Be mobile friendly – ever since Google launched its first mobile friendly algorithm back in April 2015, sites that cater for the smartphone and tablet audience have received more recognition from the search giant in the form of better rankings. With festive consumers more likely than ever to reach for their phones to browse the latest deals as opposed to firing up the desktop, can you really afford to miss out on this audience? You can use this Google tool to check the mobile friendliness of your website.
- Be fast – increasing internet speeds and more choice of products online has made us, as consumers, more impatient than ever. No matter how good your organic or paid search presence is in the run up to Christmas, if your landing pages take too long to load, searchers will become impatient and move on to your competitors. Experts suggest that a load time of less than 2 seconds is acceptable, but if your site is graphics heavy or your hosting is not up to speed you could find yourself losing out on potential custom. Check the load speed of your site here with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
- Be aware – we talk a lot about consumer UX, why? Because it is so important. If you can experience the journey your customers will take when visiting your site and anticipate their needs, you can deliver a website that caters for them, which means you are much more likely to convert your traffic into sales. Specifically, you can check for broken links, 404 pages, missing page elements such as images or prices and ensure that the checkout process is working perfectly.
- Be willing to adapt – nothing is more damaging to your sales than a static marketing strategy. Over the festive shopping season people will be doing things outside of their normal routine, so you need to adapt to this by monitoring and measuring their behaviour and changing your site or strategy accordingly. For instance, if you notice a high cart abandonment rate in the run up to Christmas it could be time to review your prices and delivery times against competitors as your online visitors are obviously getting so far but falling at the final hurdle.
Following these simple tips will help you to improve conversion rates in the busy Christmas shopping period and beyond! If you need help with your online marketing strategy give the SEO it Right team a call today on 0121 308 0219.
The way we develop and implement marketing strategies is rapidly changing; marketers and brands alike are all aware of the impending domination of digital driving us to take to social media, online advertising and a more mobile-centric approach to consumer engagement. With online companies such as Google and Facebook massively shaping the way businesses communicate and promote their products and services, we’re all feeling the pressure to stay up to date with the latest marketing trends and stay afloat amongst the flood of online competition.
But, ensuring that you’re meeting the needs of your digital market doesn’t have to cost the world or take an army of marketers to achieve. By making a few changes to your marketing campaign, looking to the predicted trends for the online market, you’ll be able to benefit from increased online presence, brand awareness and traffic to your website. Here are some of the ways marketing will change this year and what we expect brands to be doing to fully engage online:
How you can adapt to the latest online marketing trends
What’s new for SEO?
According to Search Engine Land, 70-80% of users ignore paid ads in the search engine results pages (SERPS), and only focus on the organic result. This means that building your organic visibility by focusing on properly optimising your brand’s content should be a key priority – here’s what you can do:
Mobile is a must: It’s predicted that mobile-optimisation will become more important than desktop optimisation. Ensuring that your website is responsive to mobile and tablet devices, will therefore be a strong factor influencing your online visibility and rankings in the SERPS. User experience for mobile users is a must; statistics show that 57% of mobile users will abandon your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load on their device.
Additionally, the future is seemingly geared towards the mobile app; apps are becoming increasingly popular with the rise of wearable technology and the ease of usage. As it’s already been reported that users spend 90% of mobile usage on apps, Google will be indexing apps in a much similar way to how it indexes traditional websites. How can you cater for this growing market?
Social media gains more power: It looks like your social media content will become as or even more valuable than content from your independent website pages. Social content is becoming more readily indexed, which means that your communications must be consistent, relevant and targeted across the social sites your target audience interact with. Last year:
- Instagram is now bigger than Twitter
- Snapchat is growing at a rate of 56% each year
- Tumblr signs up an average of 120,000 users a day
If your marketing strategy isn’t geared towards providing a comprehensive social experience of your brand, you’ll be missing out to competitors.
Social is a discovery engine
Facebook has already overtaken Google for news traffic and will look to officially release its ‘Instant Articles’ feature this year. This will give users the opportunity to view brands’ content – articles and blogs – without having to leave the platform. Combined with the introduction of the ‘Buy’ button for Facebook as well as Twitter, marketers must look to take advantage of the increasing power of social media sites early on.
The video boom
Google is experimenting with in-SERP video advertising, in a bid to compete with Facebook and Bing who have started to offer video options for advertisers. Video will become an extremely important marketing device this year and beyond; in fact, it’s predicted that video will account for 69% of consumer internet traffic by 2017. Did you know that currently 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute? Make sure you benefit this year by tapping into the video boom.
Get into graphics: Along with the increasing visual appeal of online communications through video, shareable graphics will take preference for consumers digesting content. The trend for websites is becoming decidedly minimalistic, with clean, clear and easy to read written content. To grab your audience’s attention, you’ll need to develop or share more images to match the content created, which clearly relates to your brand and your brand message.
How will content marketing be affected?
HubSpot found that in 2015, companies who blog received 97% more links to their website and B2B marketers that use blogs received 67% more leads than those who didn’t.
Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information, so it’s no surprise that for the online future, creating quality blog content built around the consumer will be the priority. This needs to be strategically integrated with all the other marketing channels. As well as sharing blog content through social media, you’ll need to integrate it into email communications, influencer relations, media relations, content sponsorships and social advertising.
Engaging content matters: A central focus for online marketing will be on providing engaging, helpful content. Header and pop-up advertisements will begin to decline on web pages, particularly on mobile devices. This means that the content you provide on a page needs to be of a high quality to engage audiences’ interest and secure further interaction with your brand. The emphasis will be on creating an engaging headline that stirs curiosity and content that entices action. From there, you could include links within the content to a more ad-heavy page. By delivering quality content, you’ll ensure that your audience will click through and that responses to advertisements will be willingly made.
To find out more about creating an engaging online marketing campaign or for help with building your marketing strategy, please email us at email@example.com or call 0121 308 0219 to speak to a member of our team.
2013 was a year that saw numerous events that had a massive impact on SEO and online marketing as a whole. In the past, SEO was essentially about two things; keywords and links. However, this led to large amounts of keyword saturation and link building, not to mention, quite a considerable amount of attempts to game against the system, using what we call ‘black hat’ SEO techniques. Over the past year, Google has made some major algorithm changes that have changed the direction of SEO and online marketing as a whole.
September 2013 was a big month for online marketing, with two major changes to search putting nails in the coffin of the keyword salesman:
First of all, Google switched to https:// privacy settings, meaning that all ever increasing amounts of keyword search queries would show up as ‘Not Provided’ in Analytics. This means that although anyone who uses Google to search for keywords or phrases that might lead to your website can still do so, however, you do not have access to this data. Whilst keyword search data is no longer available for organic search, in a further effort by Google to protect their Adwords revenue, keyword data continues to be available for paid search.
Secondly, Google surprised everyone by announcing the release of a brand new algorithm with no warning. Many argue that Hummingbird will prove to be the biggest change in Google’s algorithm since the beginning. The main purpose of Hummingbird is to allow Google to be able to interpret much more ‘conversational’, semantic language, understanding the intent of a search rather than just recognising short keywords.
The introduction of Hummingbird could be linked with the ever increasing popularity of mobile search. Many people prefer to use voice search on their mobile devices, talking directly into the handset to find what they need. We have started to search questions, not keywords. This means that people are less likely to use short-tail keywords, and are instead likely to search using full sentences that are more familiar to our everyday speech.
Hummingbird plays a big part in changing the way that SEO and online marketing is sold. The future of SEO is no longer based on keywords, but how keywords form a relationship to the intent of a targeted search. Whereas in the past, many in the online marketing community could get away with keyword stuffing to a certain level, the introduction of Hummingbird brings about the importance of online marketers producing more quality, detailed, long form articles that are designed to answer long-tail search phrases.
It could be argued that we are yet to fully see the real extent of Hummingbird’s impact online marketing, however, with search engines adapting to the way that we are now using long-tailed and question-like search queries, Hummingbird has undoubtedly set the stage for a future that is centred on mobile search. Online marketers must therefore adapt their strategies away from short keywords and push out more and more semantic-influenced content in order to capture more traffic. In 2014, we can only expect to see the increasing impact of Hummingbird.
Lots of people like to talk about how SEO is dead. I don’t think there is any truth in this. As far as I can see SEO is just as important as ever and providing you are prepared to abide by the rules and amend your tactics pretty much constantly you can still very much reap the rewards. What is dead however, is the traditional method of selling SEO on keyword rankings and importance.
Whilst keywords are still very much a part of any online marketing strategy as they help us to hone in on what it is that matters to that business and what topics must be covered in the copy presented on that website, they are not the be-all and end-all of successful online marketing.
Google uses Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) to index content on webpages so if you think writing a few paragraphs with the same keyword appearing every few lines is going to get you to the top of SERPS you are very much mistaken. Good relevant content is built around related, synonym and similar keywords – each requiring justification to be on the page. With the introduction of Hummingbird, created to understand more complex search queries, onsite content must now be written to address the potential long tail questions that searchers may ask – moving focus away from more generic keyword search terms and getting people to look at the value of the content itself.
Whilst Google might like to think that Pay Per Click will kill the keyword salesman I think we can all safely agree that in the world of white hat SEO, selling on keyword performance alone is pretty much dead already. Yes keywords still have a role in online marketing but this is part of a wider visibility strategy that simply cannot be achieved and sustained through keyword marketing alone.
If you want a straight talking approach to your online marketing why not give SEO it Right a call on 0121 308 0219 where we can explain more about this.
Posted by Frances Berry
In the world of online marketing, SEO has developed a terrible reputation. There is good reason for this. Alongside the hard working online marketers who thrive by working alongside their clients to create the right campaign for their business, there are also thousands of shady characters that are ready to ride in and scam businesses large and small out of massive amounts of money. These SEO Cowboys are tarnishing the good name of all other search marketers.
The question is, who are these Cowboys? Unfortunately, they can be hard to spot. It is unlikely that they ride a horse, there is little chance that they will announce themselves with the clinking of their spurs, and though they use black hat tactics to rob good honest companies of hard earned money, they seldom choose to advertise this. The whole business of being an SEO cowboy is to trick clients into believing that they are the good guys that will help you make the treacherous journey to the top of search rankings safely and in no time at all. The chances are, you won’t last long on the wagon train.
With businesses being hassled constantly by unsolicited emails and phone calls, it is important to determine what makes a good online marketer. So how can an SEO Cowboy be found? Even without a giveaway black ten gallon hat, it is simpler than you would think to separate the villains from the honest SEO guys. To find out if an SEO agency really know what they are doing, there are a few key things to consider.
- First of all, take a look at their website. What does the website look like, what is the website’s content like and more importantly, how are they ranked on Google? You should expect a good online marketer to practice what they preach on their own website. If they can’t do a decent job marketing themselves online, then how can you expect them to do a good job for you? If a potential SEO company approaches you and you can’t find their website, or it is dated and free of informative content, you would be wise to leave your cheque book in your wallet.
- Are they making unrealistic promises? Very often, if an SEO company is making a claim that seems too good to be true, that is because it is. As many businesses want instant results, SEO Cowboys often feed them what they want to hear, rather than telling them the truth. SEO is a time consuming process, and any company claiming that they will get you to the top of Google for numerous keywords overnight is likely to be using underhand tactics. Even though this may benefit you for a short time, it will do you considerable harm in the long run. Google is never fooled for long.
- It is a worrying sign if an Online Marketer trying to sell their services to you is not open about their strategies, or just bores you with jargon. If somebody claims that SEO is all a highly guarded secret, or talks at you, throwing big fancy buzz words in your face, there is a good chance that they aren’t entirely sure what they are talking about. Many Cowboys are great salesmen, but not so effective at SEO. It is also important to take note of what an SEO agency wants to know about you. A good online marketer should require as much information from you as possible about your products, services, competition, market and relevant keywords.
- Especially in the days since Google Penguin waddled into town, Social Media is an essential part of online marketing. Is your potential SEO company active on their social accounts? Do they use them correctly and effectively? If a suspected SEO Cowboy does not make regular posts, or if they don’t make relevant posts linking back to their website, they may not be too clued up on the latest Google algorithm changes and SEO techniques.
- Perhaps the most important thing to remember about SEO is that content is key. Google loves nothing more than content rich websites. Look at an SEO company’s content marketing efforts carefully to see the quality of their work. If an online marketing agency has a helpful website and a high quality blog on which they post great, informative and relevant articles on a regular basis, this is a very positive indicator that they know how to perform content marketing successfully.
Essentially, a good SEO company is an open company. Online marketers should be able to do for themselves what they claim to be able to do for you, and communicate with you on a regular basis so you both know what’s going on. For SEO to work successfully, it has to be a two way relationship, where the customer gets the same out of their online marketing consultant as they give to them.
Though many people have had negative experiences with the countless numbers of Cowboys marauding as online marketing experts, an SEO company can be a valuable addition to your business. Through honesty, communication, constant research and development, and most importantly, a cart load of hard work, the right company can help your business see excellent growth.
Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at your online marketing company? Well here’s a little taster based on some of the things we do on a typical day from our Birmingham SEO headquarters.
Firstly the day will start with a cup of tea – generally made by Claire because she is the most organised. Once the caffeine starts to tickle the taste buds we are ready to tackle a busy day ahead – because it is always a busy day if you are doing your online marketing effectively!
Monday mornings are the worst for most people which is why we like to treat our staff to a morning hoe-down as soon as they are awake. This does not mean that we do American style square dancing around the offices but more that we gather together to talk through the most important tasks for the week ahead to ensure everyone knows what they are doing who has responsibility for getting things done. Depending on what department you are in – sales, creative or technical – your day is going to be very different in terms of the work you do but will all be working towards the same goal – improving the online visibility of our clients.
Rather than bore you with the details let’s focus on the SEO team and what they get up to on a typical day…so without giving any trade secrets away they are skilled in creating content for clients’ sites, blogs, SEO, social media and SEO PR – in other words there is a lot of writing going on. It is this strength in online copywriting that we are truly proud of and what makes us such a special team – there is no outsourcing here – we just keep the staff chained to the desk all day and night (only joking…though there’s a thought…). Research also forms a big part of any day – finding newsworthy topics, identifying content is suitable for syndication, learning more about our customers so that we can be their social voice and generally keeping up with all that is new and upcoming in the big, bad world of SEO and online marketing. That’s something else we pride ourselves on – our ability and passion for R&D – without it we couldn’t keep up with new ideas, algorithm changes and the latest technology that keep us at the forefront of our industry.
Supporting clients is another vital part of the SEO’s day – helping customers to understand reporting so that they are getting all the information they need to develop their business, answering questions and providing training are just a few examples of how we provide support. The door is always open (apart from this week when it doesn’t work!) and we’re completely open and approachable in everything we do – I challenge anyone to find another SEO company in Birmingham or the UK for that matter who can provide the same honesty and integrity (ok so we’re probably not the only ones, but there’s nothing wrong in singing about your strengths).
Managing this business is stressful at times but then I wouldn’t have it any other way – working with a team of diverse, creative and enthusiastic staff makes coming to work each day something to look forward to and in an industry that never sleeps you can be assured that the next exciting thing is never far around the corner.
Tomorrow we will be dressing like pirates and eating cupcakes but that is all in another day at SEO it Right!
Posted by Frances Berry
The director of Birmingham SEO and online marketing company SEO it Right, has urged caution amongst local businesses that rely solely on organic search traffic for internet revenue and lead generation. Birmingham, West Midlands — (SBWIRE) — 09/17/…
Birmingham SEO and online marketing company SEO it Right believes social media is key to success in today’s fast paced business world. Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands — (SBWIRE) — 07/17/2013 — Birmingham SEO and online marketing company SEO it…
There is currently a lot of chatter on this – has your site been affected? Keep your eyes on your traffic in Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to see whether the suspected update has had an impact on your site. You can read more HERE at the SEO round table.