Deceptive digital marketing practices are not cool anymore, although many businesses still use them. In our opinion, ethical SEO practices give you a better chance of attracting the right clients, investors, and partners to your business.
How do you know if your digital marketing strategies are ethical or not? We’ve created this guide to help you plan online marketing that is authentic, honest, and sustainable.
We teamed up with a widely recognized and trusted manufacturing company in the lower mainland, to redesign and develop a fresh new website.
A comprehensive understanding of their values and goals aided us to thoughtfully design a new, fully responsive site, completely transforming the look while giving it a fresh modern feel, boosting traffic both organically and from their Google Ads campaigns too.
Ten years into the great social media experiment and 2017 was the year we saw Facebook hit the 2 billion user mark, the proliferation of real-time video across social platforms and the continuing email renaissance. With 2018 coming up fast upon us what better time to reflect on the past year, to dust off the crystal ball and to predict what 2018 will bring for marketers.
This post is divided into five sections to mirror the disciplines Out-Smarts focuses on websites trends, SEO – getting found when people search online, email marketing, social media and overall marketing strategy.
Website Design Trends
We know that Google is going to continue to emphasize the importance of mobile in 2018 so expect to see function taking precedence over form with a focus on usability and minimalist site navigation and content proliferating. It’s going to be interesting to see how the content is king crusaders balance their obsession with publishing content with minimalism and mobile. Expect to see more valuable content related to buyer intent rather than simply content for the sake of putting something out there.
Will 2018 be the year when small businesses finally catch up? 50% of small businesses still don’t have a website; we’re hoping this new year will be the one the laggards finally catch up. It is interesting that social media adoption for small business is much higher than website adoption. The popularity of social media is likely because of a low barrier to entry of social platforms. However, it is important to consider that you don’t own your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages (or any other social media presence you might have) the social media company owns it. What happens if they switch directions or go out of business? A website belongs to your business, not to a third party.
Watch out for more animation (logos in particular) and websites that incorporate GIFs in 2018 too – hopefully, they’re less cheesy than their Flash predecessors. Artificial Intelligence is going to be everywhere in 2018 too as enhancements make Chatbots get better and better at answering questions and simulating conversations with website visitors.
Search Engine Optimisation
Don’t let anyone tell you that keyword research is no longer important. It is and will continue to be, but there will be a shift in 2018 to focus more on semantic search, buyer intent and topics rather than specific keywords. SEOs will focus more on having their site show up at the right time when people are actually considering a purchase, rather than having the site show up to attract particular personas.
Another aspect that should be on your SEO radar in 2018 is voice search which means you need to hone your long tail keywords, i.e. keyword phrases that are hyper-specific to what you are selling.
Image search will continue to grow in 2018 so now might be the time to make sure all the images on your website have well thought out and optimized alt tags.
The email renaissance will continue in 2018. Get ready to watch videos embedded directly in email campaigns. Technological enhancements in email clients will continue to lead to more and more email apps that support embedded video. Right now less than half of all email clients can play embedded videos but thanks to Apple mail, iOS and Samsung this is changing. Up until now, most senders have opted to embed a fake play button in the email with a link to the video on a separate site or by GIF.
Including video in emails can lead to big increases in open rates – Campaign Monitor
Watch for more sophistication in list segmentation too. Segmenting campaigns so that specific audiences receive emails that contain content tailored to their unique perspective.
2017 was the year of streaming video in social media; LinkedIn In and Twitter followed Facebook Live’s lead and began supporting live streaming video content. In 2018 watch out for growing adoption of these technologies and more creative live streams.
Over 8 billion videos or 100 million hours of videos are watched on Facebook every day (TechCrunch, 2016). – via Buffer
In 2018 we will also see the increased adoption of short-lived content, content that’s only available for a short period of time before it disappears, – like Instagram stories and Snapchat. Marketers must start developing strategies to maximize the reach and impact of ephemeral content as well as considering tactics to get this content noticed.
On platforms like Instagram and Facebook, only a tiny percentage of followers actually see the content you share on your page. To get noticed in 2018, you will need to invest in ads on these platforms. Consider video ads to spice things up a little.
Social media analytics, measuring tools and management solutions will become more sophisticated in 2018 with an emphasis on enterprise social marketing integrating all platforms.
How Marketing Strategies will Evolve in 2018
I am going to go out on a limb here and predict that 2018 will be the year that our obsession with all things digital and only digital will end. It’s also going to be the year we’re going to start calling our discipline marketing again (rather than digital). Marketing in 2018 will encompass all aspects of the marketing mix, both online and off and marketers will use the means most likely to help them attract their target audience.
Consider this, there are 65 million business pages on Facebook, 90% of businesses use social media. These are substantial numbers, but for marketers this means that it is becoming increasingly difficult, not to mention more expensive, to get noticed. If you want to attract your target audience’s attention in 2018, then widen your horizons and consider sending them a direct mail piece (depending on the audience) in a nice coloured envelope with handwritten wording. It will likely be the only physical mail the recipient gets that day (or maybe that week or month!), they’re going to open it, and if your copy is effective they will act on it!
2018 is going to be an interesting year; technological advancements will continue to speed up. To be effective as marketers, it’s going to be important not simply to jump on the bandwagon of the next big thing but to consider options strategically and with your target audience in mind (rather than from a product or service-centric perspective). That said, video popularity has been growing year over year and won’t stop. Cisco predicted that video would account for 80% of internet traffic by 2020. So if you do nothing else, consider how you might incorporate video into your digital approach in 2018.
Link building is the process of getting external sites to link back to your site. The more of these links you have from high-quality sites the more this positively impacts your position in the search engine results pages.
Here at Out-Smarts, we often get asked to assess company websites from a search engine perspective, to ascertain why their page isn’t appearing higher on Google. One reason is that they don’t have enough backlinks to their website or they have the wrong kind of backlinks – links from other websites tracking back to their site.
Despite Google’s algorithm changes, links are still valuable online, the more your website has the better its ranking will be but you have to be really careful how you go about building links. Link building can be extremely time consuming, can seem like a fruitless task and if you do it wrong can be damaging.
Here are 9 ways that you can build links back to your site:
Link Building Techniques
1. Social Networks– use your social networking presence to link back to your site or blog posts. This will drive traffic to your site and traffic is one of Google’s rank factors (double whammy!). The links to your website in your social bios and about sections are really important to so make sure you’ve included those and updated them to https.
2. Directories and Citation Sites – beware the directories – there are gazillions of websites that simply list the URL’s of other websites (rather like the Yellow pages but online). Submit a link to your site only on directories that have a good page rank, are relevant to your target audience and locality but avoid the ones that ask for payment or reciprolinks and absolutely ignore sites that simply link farms – linking in those does more damage than good.
3. List Your Business on Google My Business and Bing Local – these are really high-value citation sites, if you are not listed on Google My Business, get on it!
4. Content – make sure that the content on your website or blog is great, it should answer the questions your buyers ask when researching and evaluating a purchase. The higher quality your content is the more likely people will find it and link back to it. Link to other key players in your industry, your suppliers and sources as this gives you a reason to reach out and ask for a link and to tag them on social to encourage shares (and traffic!).
5. Widgets – add widgets that allow visitors to easily share your content on the network of their choice. These links are not high value from an SEO perspective but they do drive traffic (which is important for SEO).
6. Relationships – ask partners, clients and organisations you are a member of to place a link on their site back to yours but only on sites that are relevant and appropriate within your area or industry. If you are already a member of an association make sure that your listing in these directories includes a link to your website.
6. Advertising – consider advertising online: Google Ads can be a valuable way to drive traffic to your site.
7. Influencer marketing – many influencers are happy to link back to your site, although many of them will charge you for it. It’s worth considering though as this can help you in a number of ways including extending your reach to there audience.
8. Outreach– make a list of sites that have a high domain authority or page rank and reach out to them asking for a link – you can do this by email or phone. One we got recently offered us a lifetime subscription to their software which caught our eye and made their communication stand out from others.
9. Blog Comments – we had written this technique off ages ago but a recent blog post from Neil Patel has us revisiting this. If you use blog commenting though you have to think your comments through and make sure they are valuable and related to the post so that it isn’t perceived as spam and deleted.