We know our technological world changes on a second-by-second basis. What worked mere moments ago might be obsolete after a simple software update. Meanwhile, some foundational tenets of digital marketing remain as firm as ever.
To help us make heads from tails, we’ve gathered the advice from some established pros. However, a word of caution, even the wisest are first to admit they know nothing.
Content Craft Is Ranking Royalty
It’s rare that someone searches for exactly what they want and find it immediately. What’s more common is finding several results that offer multiple similar iterations of what a consumer is generally looking for. This is where content becomes conversion royalty. However, that content must focus on the shifting nature of search queries.
“Continue to focus on solid, unique quality content that the audience is hungry for,” R. Kang of Visualwebz notes. “But strategies may soon be shifting toward voice search.”
Content can’t remain the same it has always been, much like royalty cannot neglect the lives of their people. As technologies shift, content must follow suit.
“As search engines continue to refine their algorithms and RankBrain and Bing Machine Learning become more sophisticated at understanding search intent, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to use traditional SEO strategies to game the system,” reflects Taylor Hurff from 1SEO. “In 2019, agencies will have to shift their strategic mindsets from SEO ‘hacking’ to creating and delivering genuine, quality content to users. Not much longer will backlink building and keyword targeting be enough to succeed in search. It’s going to take more honest efforts to create the pages Google and Bing want to display to users.“
The wisest in the industry know that content isn’t going anywhere, but it has to adapt to a shifting digital landscape. Quality content drives users to a site. People aren’t interested in buying a product if you cannot talk about your product in an engaging way. What’s more, if your content isn’t polished, search engines are more than smart enough to know that and penalize you for it in the SERPs.
“From all of my legal clients, I hear the same thing. How do we get more new clients? I ask them if they know ‘what is guest posting‘? Then I usually reply that they must create a 2,000-word high-quality piece of content, along with a video and infographic and then start a link earning campaign where they will earn links from the new content. Also, guest posting where they are creating unique high-quality pieces of content,” Chris Costa from Legal Search Marketing says.
Focused products call for focused content. When you’re talking about content as technical as the legal realm calls for, sloppy content isn’t an option. Then again, sloppy content is never an option. He also mentioned videos and visuals. People will stay on a page longer when it has something to look at or watch other than a wall of text. Content must be excellent, but people have to stay on a page long enough to want to read it.
“While there are many things to consider in your digital marketing strategies for 2019, the foundation is still great content. No matter where you choose to go in 2019, your content should be at the core of your marketing… Your content should be useful, helpful, valuable, fun, entertaining and engaging. Every great digital marketing campaign begins with the type of content you’re creating for your target audience,” remarks Richard Hale from the website Teaching Online Business. “Voice recognition is another thing your company needs to be thinking about in 2019. If SEO is a part of your strategy now, you want to optimize your site for voice search also. I’m betting on voice recognition being the next big thing. While that will be determined in the near future, there’s no denying that more people are relying on voice recognition for everyday tasks.”
Good content is made better by ensuring it’s accessible by different search types. As software becomes increasingly advanced with machine learning, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing, content must do the same. Of course, hand-in-hand with this point, good content has to be built around up-to-date technical specifications.
Check Your Tech Specs And UX
Digital marketing is undeniably technical. You could have pristine content penned by C.S. Lewis incarnate, but without good tech, it can only go so far. Currently, most searches are done on mobile devices. Surprisingly, innumerable businesses still haven’t wrapped their heads around this.
“Mobile first indexing. Websites are now ranked based on the quality of UX they provide on mobile devices,” says Noam Judah from Top Rankings, an SEO Agency Melbourne businesses trust. “Site, speed, quality content: content is still king and high-quality content opens the path to high Google rankings.”
Even there we still see that content rules, but with more people accessing sites from an ever-growing list of different devices, how those users experience a website has become increasingly important. If your site won’t display on a tablet, what use is your content anyway?
Similarly, user experience (UX) comes down to technologies that users likely never think of, but make decisions based on. If you pinched pennies on subpar hosting services and your webpage is slow to load, most users will frustratedly find another site that moves faster and has a similar product.
“We are seeing mobile page load times slow down almost across the board, but more on WordPress sites. We are recommending that everyone invest more money in quality hosting. Gone are the days of the $2.99/month hosting,” says Chris Fawcett with Third Marble Marketing.
In the same way, Kevin Indig, the Mentor for Growth at German Accelerator echoes a similar sentiment:
One does not simply hack some code together for their website and let it ride for years to come. Optimization is an ongoing task. A task which will call for different approaches, strategies, and solutions as the technical world swiftly evolves and progresses.
Herding Human Beings
Here we reach the end of the line. Users. Consumers. Humans. We generally trust each other and take advice from one another, a fact which isn’t lost on digital media professionals. The importance of reputation management relies on businesses caring about what their customers say about them.
“The most important digital marketing trend for all businesses is the increasing importance of niche authority. In today’s noisy digital landscape, when given a choice, buyers always want to buy from the authority against all others. In order to gain all the benefits of authority building, a company needs to make sure that its website is the publishing hub and the referral source for all of its content. By doing so, authority will accumulate for the brand, the company, its leadership, and the website, resulting in more traffic, leads and sales, as well as better search engine rankings and growth,” says Phil Singleton from Kansas City Web Design & SEO.
Authority against others. We’re not here to sugar coat anything and you know the web is a furiously competitive market, so authority on your product’s niche seriously matters. Hop back to content and you can see why informative, accurate, and engaging content is so important. That’s where authority begins. After that, what your users and buyers experience and what they say about their experiences shapes the rest of it.
“One of the things business owners can do themselves, that has the biggest impact on search engine rankings, is to gather customer reviews in a Google My Business account,” says Dotty Scott of Premium Websites. “This one thing will provide more ‘Google Juice’ than any other one thing done to your website.”
Customer reviews can make or break the reach of your products, depending on if that information is appropriately harnessed. Ron Prosky from Addiction Web Marketing Pros reflects on this in a more localized sense:
“This year will see a growing emphasis on local business listings (i.e. Google and Bing Maps), while local data management services (i.e. Yext, Local Tracer, Rio SEO, etc.) continue to broaden their reach and expand their account base through lower pricing and non-annual payment options. Likewise, consumers/viewers will continue to experience a more visually integrated web, in real time, that further increases the peace-of-mind factor in all those non-standardized online purchases. Great news for online retailers and more bad news for brick mortars. This year is about visuals, AI, and speed.”
People are quicker to trust things they buy that are close to home. It’s something psychological, but marketers are taking advantage of the fact that people are more likely to purchase the same product online from a business five miles away than from one 500 miles away. A combination of localized business listings and data optimized for geolocation taps into the inherent trust issues human beings still face in the digital world. Tack on access to what other customers are saying and you can see why location and reputation are two marketing pillars that customers lean on.
A point naturally proven by trusted names. Amazon. We hate to burst your bubble, but your e-commerce business isn’t going to push Amazon out of its market dominance. So play nice with them.
“Amazon has rapidly become a parallel universe in the digital marketing landscape. Almost 56% of people visit Amazon before they buy anything on the web,” says Alvin Cheung of WittyCookie. “Amazon’s algorithm works entirely on the internal searches as they help it to rank products according to various factors. So, if you are in any way associated with e-commerce, be sure to have great positioning on Amazon.”
In plain terms, whatever product you’re selling, more than half of people are going to search for it on Amazon first. Why? They trust Amazon. If you run an e-commerce site, one of the best things you can do posture yourself highly there. As far as reputation goes, your products being visible on Amazon is only going to help them.
Square One And Done
For all the advice, hacks, and tricks people swear by in digital marketing, 2019 will be a year of adapting to more elegantly designed, smarter search algorithms. Our tactics must mirror this elegant technological evolution. Making content scream expertise. Having user experience that dazzles. Boasting technical chops that bring joyful tears to engineers. And, finally, never losing sight of the simple fact that whatever your goals are, the end users are human. The most unpredictable variable of all.