Attracting and retaining customers is at the heart of every online marketing strategy. Although that goal is not likely to change from year to year, the way you accomplish that goal will. To create effective online marketing strategies for the new year, you’ll need to look at the trends and changes that are poised to take off and adapt to them accordingly.
Here are five tips for improving your online marketing strategies to help you reach more customers and drive ROI in 2017.
1. Spend More of Your Budget on Content
One of the best ways to grow your online audience is to consistently pump out long-form, quality content. “Quality content” can be a blog, article, whitepaper — anything your business publishes online that provides a use for the reader. Allocating more of your budget toward quality content can have a number of benefits for your online marketing strategies:
- Increase brand awareness
- Rank pages for your top keywords
- Create blogs and articles people will want to share
- Help establish you as an expert in your field
Your blogs should have clearly definable, helpful topics. They should not read like sales pitches; you have other methods (like email) that are much more effective for selling. Instead, use blog posts to share newsworthy topics, or provide an expert’s insight with simple-yet-knowledgeable how-to guides. Blogs that get conversations started or that show readers how to do something will always get more traction and clicks than ones that sound like they’re selling something.
You’ll want these posts to have 800 to 1000-plus words. Google likes crawling longer content because it shows you’ve gone more in-depth on the topic. A long-form focus also gives you an opportunity to link to relevant pages to help users find out more about things you’ve mentioned.
Remember: we’re living in a post-Panda world. The Panda algorithm that once knocked websites down for bad or duplicate content has joined Google’s core algorithm. Google will now crawl your content on a more regular basis (think weeks and months instead of years), so you have to make it top-notch.
2. Continue your Outreach and Link Building Campaigns
Google’s ranking signals value links above everything else, and this is likely to continue in 2017. Focus on organically expanding your backlink profile with trusted, relevant sites.
You’ll also want to keep Penguin in mind when building links. Penguin runs in real-time now, so your rankings will quickly reflect any changes you make. Be sure to disavow any toxic or spammy links you or your company might have built in the past to ensure a fresh start to the new year.
3. Take a Mobile-First Approach
If your site isn’t responsive or mobile-friendly yet, start working on that immediately. Searches on mobile devices currently make up the majority of Google searches; your site must offer a good user experience, or users will go elsewhere. A mobile-friendly site helps eliminate the possibility of frustration and ensures they stay on the page.
If making your site responsive or mobile-friendly is not an option, you can add Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to your website. AMP helps mobile web pages load more quickly by using open-source code, prioritizing content and supporting custom targeted ads. Google has begun prominently featuring AMP pages in their content carousels to give users the most up-to-date answers to their queries.
Earlier this year, Google began giving small ranking boosts for websites that have gone mobile-friendly. We suspect Google will give AMP pages similar treatment in the future, so it should be a high priority to implement one or both in 2017.
4. Optimize with Structured Data in Mind
As Google continues to expand rich snippets and add new types of supported structured data, you’ll need to take advantage of these features, especially to dominate on mobile. With their smartphones and other mobile devices, users can search for places and products on a whim. On-page structured data markup helps users get the best, most relevant results to their queries, which display directly in the search results. Google’s Featured Snippets in particular have experienced rapid growth, with the number of Featured Snippet's roughly doubling from 2014 to 2016.
You can use structured data markup to organize your site’s data to answer these queries. Every pixel counts, and structured data can help show users the results you want them to see.
5. Take Advantage of Voice Search
Voice search has doubled over the last year. As voice search accuracy continues to improve, this function will evolve from a modern convenience to a necessity. Its growth will cause significant changes to the way online marketing is done.
Leverage voice search to your favor by researching common questions asked within your industry. Then, base your content around answering those questions in the clearest and most thorough way possible. Google’s voice search is becoming increasingly sophisticated; it can not only recognize what’s being said but can understand the complex meanings behind it. Context and clarity will be the factors that decide if your content will answer a user’s query via voice search.
Change is inevitable in the world of online marketing. Algorithm updates and emerging trends can be difficult to predict, so working with the information we know is critical to success.
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