A lot has changed over the past year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Entire industries have shut down and started back up, while some businesses were forced to close permanently. And due to the need for social distancing, we’ve relied on the internet for solutions more than ever.
As such, it’s essential that you stay on top of the latest trends in digital marketing. If you want to succeed in a post-pandemic reality, you’ll want to take these tips from our experts to heart. Here are just a few pieces of advice that digital marketing leaders recommend you follow in 2021.
Optimize For Local, Mobile, and Voice
Even before the novel coronavirus hit, many of us used our devices on a near-constant basis. But our smartphones and tablets have become even more vital during this past year. Mobile usage surged during the pandemic and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down any time soon.
In other words, your customers are on their mobile devices — so you need to meet them where they already are. To appeal to those who are using their mobile devices to find solutions online, you’ll need to ensure your website is truly responsive. By providing mobile visitors with the same great experience you offer to desktop users, you’ll avoid alienating customers with tremendous buying power.
And if you optimize your site for local and voice search results, you’ll have an even greater chance of appearing in Google SERPs. Since on-the-go users are looking for answers nearby — and often use their phones to find them — it makes sense to include geographic keywords and FAQs (which are more likely to show up in local searches and voice-powered searches, respectively) on your site.
In 2021, you need to think of mobile traffic as being just as important as (or even more important than) traditional web traffic. By optimizing for local, mobile, and voice searches, you’ll be in a better position to beat out the competition — pun intended. “Mobile-first optimization is now at the forefront of the SEO industry and big names like Google and Bing have already implemented mobile-first indexing to reflect that,” says Tyler Rice from Animas Marketing.
Use Social Media For Good
Social media usage also hit new heights during the pandemic. Not only were many people using these apps as a means of escapism, but they also relied on their favorite brands’ accounts to provide important COVID info. From shipping delays and safety guidelines to social justice statements and charitable contributions, social media can provide the intel that customers really care about.
It’s not enough to have a social media account for your brand and to post on a consistent basis. You also need to be providing value to your audience — and leading with empathy and transparency. While there are still plenty of social media users who don’t care about much more than the basics, there are countless customers who intend to have their money do the talking.
The fear of becoming politically involved is no longer acceptable to a significant portion of social media users. But even if you don’t want to make an outright political statement, your brand does need to make its values clear. Whether that involves partnering with a worthy organization on a new product release, donating money to a cause you care about, or making a commitment to diversity and equity within your organization, you need to be using your social media accounts to showcase what your brand stands for. Most consumers now want to see that the businesses they support are ones that prioritize issues like social justice and sustainability — and social media can provide you with the means to connect in more meaningful ways with your customers.
Don’t Neglect Your Online Reviews
Online reviews are seen as just as valuable as personal recommendations by many consumers. That means you need to make generating and responding to your online reviews a priority.
In many cases, good online reviews don’t happen by accident. Think about the last time you were inclined to leave a review for a business. Nine times out of 10, that inclination is probably going to be prompted by a subpar experience. Unfortunately, even a great business can’t get it right every single time. But if they aren’t focused on generating positive feedback to bolster their online presence, their reputation could suffer as a result.
You’ll want to establish a system of asking for feedback from customers. Whether it’s via automated emails or in-person requests, reminding a customer about the impact they can have on your business can go a long way. Once you start receiving reviews, you’ll want to take the time to respond to them. It doesn’t matter whether they’re positive or negative; each one deserves a thoughtful response that aligns with your brand values. Keep in mind that customers tend to care a lot more about how you respond to a negative review than the fact that the negative review exists. But if you have zero or very few reviews online, customers probably won’t trust you. In 2021, work on boosting your online reputation through review management.
Create Video Content
Content is very much still king — but the most engaging types of content have evolved a bit over time. Video content is now one of the most important types for any marketing strategy. For one thing, it tends to be more captivating, keeping the consumer’s attention for a longer period of time. It also allows you to show off your brand personality in unique ways. Social media platforms like to boost video content in many situations, which means your content could be seen by a much wider audience.
While creating video content does require a good amount of time, effort, and expertise, it’s often well worth the investment. Rather than spend any of your advertising budget on a TV commercial or radio spot, consider diverting some of those funds towards the creation of video content for YouTube and social media. Even basic how-to videos you share on your website or blog can help your customers get to know you, which can go a long way in building brand visibility and loyalty.
“In our view, content will continue to be the most important driving force behind successful SEO in 2021, says Spencer Wade of Lift Conversions. “However, agencies and brands should pay special attention to the ways their pages make users feel – how fast do they load, how quickly are they responsive and how much focus has mobile been given during optimizations. If you include a healthy dose of proactive site and information safety then you’ll have what we envision as successful SEO in 2021.”
Prioritize Page Experience
Google’s Page Experience algorithm update is slated to roll out in May 2021, so you should prepare your site now to prevent a hit to your rankings.
Google has cared about website experience for a long time, but this latest update will prioritize the experience provided for users on specific website pages. Factors like page loading speed, interactivity delays, website security, and overall mobile-friendliness will come into play with this soon-to-be-released update. If you haven’t already, invest in a website audit and figure out where you might not measure up. By taking care of UX issues now, you could protect the rankings you’ve worked so hard to get.
Search Experience Optimization
“SXO (search experience optimization) is not a new concept. It’s been talked about since 2015,” says Michel Fortin of Michel Fortin SEO Consulting. “But I believe that, in 2021, as Google becomes smarter and more focused on providing the best possible relevance and value in search results, we need to align our content better with what users want.”
“In other words, its less about keywords and more about topicality and intent,” explains Fortin. “In other words, it’s about creating quality content, where “quality” is defined by the degree to which it matches both search intent and user intent (i.e., how users search and why they want it) to deliver a more user-centric, SERP-to-satisfaction experience.”
Adds, Fortin, “With the newest technologies in machine learning, and in natural language understanding processing and understanding, as well as user experience factors newly introduced in 2021, search engines are becoming more sophisticated.”
“So it’s no longer a question about optimizing for the search engines,” Fortin says. “It’s about optimizing for the search experience — are we giving users what they want, in the way they want it, and for the right intent? That’s SXO.”
“For 2021, its critical that you rethink your content strategy with E-A-T (expertise, authority, and trust), in mind. There are several ways to go about this,” says Adam Gingery of Majux.
“First, align search intent with the content on your page. For instance, if your end-of-funnel search terms are not ranking well, analyze the SERP for those terms. You may find that Google is ranking informational blog posts instead of service pages. Heres an example – if you have a product page optimized for “custom golf clubs,” and you find that you cant increase the rankings to that page no matter how many links you build, you may want to rewrite that page as an information blog post targeting the phrase, “Are custom golf clubs worth it?” We’ve found that Google is increasingly ranking research-based pages, even for end-of-funnel search queries.”
“Secondly, revisit all of your previous content and cut out the fluff. Google increasingly rewards content with intentional sub-headings that have a direct answer beneath them. All of the long-winded noodling that you see on recipe blogs is starting to get penalized.”
“Third, create pages that send strong authority signals. Cite sources with strong reputations (for instance, cite the Department of Health rather than Dr. Axe), including data and footnotes, and include a qualified author on every page (even if that author is simply included in your WordPress settings – not necessarily visible to the user). Google has recently said that their algorithm can detect the author, what the author’s reputation is, and whether or not they have been published elsewhere on the web.”
With these digital marketing tips in mind, you can be prepared for whatever the rest of 2021 throws your way. Be sure to stay up-to-date on emerging trends and prioritize these considerations when marketing your business this year.
Creating Website Content
“One of the most effective strategies for our SEO agency in 2021 has been a deeper commitment to crafting our process around thinking of the user first when we create website content,” says Austin Benoit of Search Prestige. “While this seems obvious at first, it can be difficult in practice as we tend to rely heavily on software and tools to dictate our decision making, especially when doing so at scale. Luckily, the tools are becoming more advanced and aligned with the user experience, but there should still be a more qualitative component to your content approach.”
Password Manager and Authenticator Codes
“The digital marketing landscape has been changing with growing importance given to relevant content. In the password manager and authenticator code (2FA) generation space you have to give the audience what they are looking for,” says Stephen Holland of SAASPASS.