Search marketing continues to evolve as search engines and algorithms become more customer-centric, focusing on what the individual searching is really after when they type a phrase or keyword into a search box. A recent study, the BrightEdge 2013 Search Marketer Survey, took a look at what trends are changing the strategies of search marketing professionals. In this post, we cover how data integration, mobile devices, social media and content are all impacting the efforts of search marketers.
Innovation in digital marketing platforms means B2B marketers are using a number of search and social media marketing platforms in order to be successful. Integrated marketing across multiple channels can help your business better understand the productivity of each channel as well as the interactions between each channel to drive conversions. 81% of participants in the BrightEdge survey responded that it will be more important to integrate marketing data across channels and measure cross-channel ROI than it was last year (Tweet this!). As marketers, we want to be able to measure all our efforts to prove what we're doing has a purpose. Making data-driven decisions is crucial to a business's success. Integrate your data across search engines, social media and online advertising to discover what is making an impact in branded search, keyword search and search marketing success overall.
- Takeaway: Big Data is a big word. While having a large amount of data to work with may seem like a big burden, integrating data across platforms is one project that must be tackled. Integrated data can help you determine the true value of each channel for more targeted decision making.
Mobile Devices and Smartphones
Smartphone and tablet use is on the rise, showing no signs of slowing. Optimizing a site for mobile/tablet search is becoming increasingly more important. Many businesses are finding that larger percentages of those coming to their page from search engines are on mobile devices. 52% of those polled responded that optimizing their site for mobile or tablet search will be much more important this year than last year (Tweet this!). Mobile optimization is a key aspect of effective marketing in 2013.
- Takeaway: Optimize your website for mobile devices now. Make sure you work with your tech team and design team so that the experience is a fluid, cohesive one for each and every customer. A mobile-friendly site will boost your mobile search performance.
Search engines are beginning to rely on social channels to indicate whether or not the content a site is producing is valuable to consumers. Social signals, and social traction, influence how search engines decide to rank pages and sites. Because social sharing is influencing ranking, search marketers and social media teams need to work together. BrightEdge found that 80% of search marketers think the social sharing of content as a means to improve rank will be more important in 2013, compared to 2012. While goals differ from company, consider which networks you will be focusing on in 2013 and the topics trending on each of those -- they won't all be the same. In order to increase ranking, identify trending topics in social media and then look to drive social sharing for pages relevant to these same topics.
- Takeaway: Get active on social media and begin analyzing the trends to see how they directly correlate to your business, your products or services, and your audience. Social media trends can indicate the type of content your team should be sharing on social media at that moment and in the near future.
Producing, sharing and managing content is a key priority for many in 2013 and moving forward. Content marketing is an inbound tactic that encourages businesses and brands to earn their customers. 41% of the BrightEdge respondents will spend much more time on content creation and management with another 42% saying they'll spend more time than they did last year. The type of content that will benefit your business the most varies depending on your industry, but there is value in producing and managing more than one type. The types of content that will be most valuable are: social engagement (78%), blog article outreach (67%), infographics (43%) and thought leadership (43%). Content marketing builds brand awareness and encourages external linking from other sites, businesses and bloggers.
- Takeaway: While content marketing by nature is a form of inbound marketing, businesses that want to truly be successful with their content marketing efforts need to focus on creating content that is link-worthy. What types of content is your audience and the media most likely to link back to? Create that!
A successful SEO strategy includes a 360 degree analysis of what affects the rank of a page for targeted keywords. One of the biggest trends BrightEdge discovered in their survey is that 75% of search marketers think a page-based SEO approach (as opposed to a keyword-driven approach) will be more important in 2013 than in 2012. On-page and off-page parameters that affect linking need to be considered as business evaluate their search strategy for 2013. Internal linking structure and external link development are both important parts of any successful SEO strategy. Links help search engine bugs crawl pages for importance and navigation. Internal link analysis will be much more important to 30% of search marketers in 2013, compared to 2012 (Tweet this!). Marketers not only want to analyze their links, they want to know right away whether or not there is a problem with their page so they can take action faster.
- Takeaway: The linking structure of your business needs to be spot on. Invest in a consultant or SEO agency to help you ensure your site won't be hit with penalties. SEO specialists and strategists need to pay attention to the entire linking structure, with internal and external links in mind.
Search is evolving as technological advancements take place. Social media and mobile devices, the emphasis on content, and a full-circle SEO and data approach are causing a shift in the search marketing landscape. Businesses need to appeal to search engines and the things that are being considered in their algorithms. Social signals, quality content, and internal and external links are all a part of that.