All change… 2015 saw a handful of sea-changes in the SEO and content marketing world. Here they are.
Content marketing trends – Driven by social data
Chicken or egg? Content marketing is changing fast. In the beginning we created content we thought people would like, more or less on a wing and a prayer. Now cutting edge marketers are using real insights delivered by social data to drive the content they create. It might not seem like much but it’s a dramatic change, set to become critically important if you want to reach the right audience and improve your engagement with it.
So far so good. But there’s more on the SEO front. Content itself has a central role to play in attracting interest, but you shouldn’t forget about the tech side of things, the optimisation. It’s more important than ever to use intelligent behind-the-scenes optimisation to help give your content the right level of search prominence.
Layout is the bunny – Great design comes to the fore
There’s been a lot of talk about customer engagement. As the internet continues to grow and search marketing competition gets ever more fierce, engagement will become even more important. This means the layout of a site, the design, the navigation, look and feel are all more important than ever.
Clarity, beauty and logic will matter much more in 2016. It’s just one good reason why it’s better to use an experienced, search engine savvy website designer and developer rather than let your brother’s amateur best mate, who builds sites for fun, loose on your business.
Optimise those mobile apps!
Apparently people are downloading fewer apps to their smartphones these days, concentrating on those they really need and conserving battery power. No surprise when only leaving afew apps running on your phone depletes the battery in no time. But mobile apps are still significant in a marketing context and the race for mobile vs desktop superiority was finally won during 2015, with mobiles taking the top spot for the first time.
52% percent of all the time spent on digital media is spent on mobile apps, and there’s no excuse for not making the very best job of it, from a design and brand perspective to search marketing and everything in between.
Google Rankbrain and structured data
In 2015, Google announced their new AI machine-learning system, RankBrain. It’s all about getting to grips with the intent behind searches, and the search engine giant says it has already proved handy for dealing with search queries it hasn’t come across before. Now, only a few months later, RankBrain is being hailed as Google’s third most important algorithmic ranking signal. Wow.
It looks like AI is on fire right now, with more thrilling developments promised for 2016. Once search engines incorporate machine learning in their algorithms, an ‘intelligent’ algorithm tasked with learning what searchers want won’t be that far off.
This means you’ll need to get busy with structured data markup (visit schema.org to find out more), designed to improve website-search engine comms by actually describing what’s on a web page in words, instead of leaving identification up to Google spiders. The writing is finally on the wall – if you ignore structured data markup for much longer it might well affect your website’s visibility.
The only issue is, I can’t find a decent plain English explanation of where and how to use it. If you know one, please share it with me!
What about backlinks – Do they still matter?
Links still matter to Google. We know because the latest Penguin algorithm update is due soon, designed to clean up tricky link issues left over since the last update in 2014. About time too.
If you’ve been building links through 2015, what can you expect? Nobody knows. But it makes sense to prepare yourself. How’s your backlink profile looking? If it’s full of low quality links from dodgy places, or links you’re not sure of, disavow them now and clean your profile up as best you can.
As far as building links in 2016 is concerned, don’t take short cuts. It’s far better to focus on backlinks that’ll have a real positive impact: relevant, reputable and genuine. How? It’s your job to give your visitors great quality content, create a site that looks great and performs perfectly, and promote fresh content via social media.
Digital marketing grows up
In the olden days search marketing success was defined by a website’s ranking. Now things are a lot more complicated. Your online presence as a whole is key, from top to bottom, and the overall impression you make is vitally important. Which in turn means integrated marketing is absolutely crucial for 2016. You can’t afford to take a bitty approach, nor can you treat your website’s development and social media as separate any more.
What’s around the corner?
Come back soon to find out the latest news about digital marketing, content marketing trends, copywriting, communications and SEO.