With a new year under way, if you’ve only got a limited budget or time to spare on your digital marketing activity, what are the key things you need to do this year?
1. Go mobile…
2015 is set to be the year when mobile search overtakes desktop search, so if your website isn’t mobile friendly in 2015 then you need to rethink your online strategy.
A mobile-friendly site is one that is responsive to different web platforms – phone, tablet and desktop. Not sure if your site is mobile-friendly already – check out Google free online testing tool.
In 2013 I questioned whether you needed a mobile friendly website and what you could do if budget didn’t extend that far. Well times have moved on both in terms of the search engine rankings and user experience. If your website isn’t mobile responsive in 2015, your competition will leave you behind.
Not only are we increasingly reliant on our mobile devices, they’ve changed the way we carry out searches (see understanding your customers below). For some time Google has been penalizing sites that don’t offer a mobile-friendly experience and then in November 2014 Google officially launched its mobile-friendly label. If you use a mobile platform to carry out a Google search you’ll see this label underneath the web page results.
Google is also experimenting with rewarding these sites with a boost in ranking highlight pages that are optimized for mobile use.
Need to go mobile – get in touch with me for advice on the best way to do.
2. Understand What Your Customers are Searching for
2015 is the year when semantic search becomes even more important. Semantic search attempts to understand the meaning of the query and searcher’s intent.
Hummingbird (Google algorithm update September 2013) is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query—the whole sentence or conversation or meaning—is taken into account, rather than particular words. The objective behind this is that pages that match the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few keywords.
With the growth of voice activation search using services such as Google Now or Siri we could see a return of long query searches. People are generally less concise when they’re talking than when they’re typing – for example “nice family holidays for four in Spain” rather than “cheap Spanish holiday”.
In 2015, your keyword research should identify both long-tail keywords and semantic keywords – synonyms and plurals of your main keywords. So if I’m an architect, I also want to use keywords like architecture and architects.
Need help to understand what your customers are searching for and what keywords they use….I can point you in the right direction.
3. Be social
The jury is still out on how much value Google place on social signals when it comes to ranking factors and they don’t typically carry the same weight as traditional inbound links, but you can’t ignore them. Search engines aim to provide users with the most relevant and highest quality content possible. The more people that are sharing a piece of content, the higher quality it’s likely to be so it makes sense that the search engines would factor in the number of social shares that a webpage receives into its ranking algorithm.
Besides this, social shares can act as a stamp of approval for visitors landing on a page. If they see that it has hundreds of shares, it’s likely that there’s something of value and they are more likely to trust it. If you haven’t already, you should consider installing a social share plugin on your website and encouraging your site visitors to share as much as possible.
Read The Best Lessons I’ve Learned About Social Media for some tips.
If you get those three areas sorted and you find more time and budget, here’s some bonus tips on what is hot in 2015.
Increased Importance of Earned Links
Earned media is when others share your content or talk about your brand. As has been crucial over the last couple of years, avoid low-quality links that will get your site penalized and concentrate on earning good quality links. You need to create good content that is worthy of being shared and reach out to influential people to share that content.
One key strategy is to earn links from offline relationships so they can be turned into online relationships that create links to your website or blog. Some examples are:
- Hosting a networking event
- Creating a training program
- Sponsoring a sports team or local event
- Joining a local business association or Chamber of Commerce
- Getting involved with the community or a charitable organisation
- Running a contest or fund-raiser
Clear Site Structure
Have a clear site structure with straightforward navigation – the more your site appeals to your visitors, the more search engines will like it. Bounce rate and time spent on site are two factors Google takes into account as ranking factors. If users are bouncing away because of confusing navigation, it’s likely that the search engine robots are having the same issues. This causes crawl errors and will hurt your ranking.
Tips to get a good site structure
- Draw your site structure on paper or use mindmapping software if you prefer to keep it digital.
- Split categories down – If you have enough content about a subject, give it its own page. Otherwise, group related content on a single page. Keep in mind that search engines index webpages, not websites. Your goal is to get the specific page to rank for the related query. So one page per product or service is your best tactic.
2015 hasn’t unearthed any radically different internet trends. The main message is to keep it real – focus on your customer rather than appealing to the search engines – what is of value to them, what are they looking for, what technology are they using to find you and how can you best deliver it in a clear and simple way.
Wishing you a great 2015.