Things have changed a fair bit in the past couple of years – there are new social media platforms, Google’s algorithm has seen some changes and the way marketers use the web is shifting almost daily.
So what do we at Direct Sites Online think will be the trends for the next year?
Social media: The new Facebook graph search will mean that search results on the social media behemoth are more likely to turn up results based on your friends’ likes and your geographical location. So if you are looking for a hairdresser, you will probably find one nearby and that your friends are fans of. This is great news for bricks and mortar businesses or service providers that are targeting a local market.
Meanwhile, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Linked In and Pinterest will continue to grow, but the biggest growth is likely to be with Google + as business owners recognise its usefulness in establishing authorship and authority.
And with new social media platforms cropping up almost daily, it will be even more important for business to choose those that speak best to their target audience, rather than taking a scattergun approach.
SEO: Google’s Hummingbird update has changed the algorithm to take into account previous search history, localised information and the importance of good, fresh content. It also introduces the notion of “conversational searching”, which will hopefully see the end of keyword-stuffed drivel. For example, it will be possible to search for “how do I get crayon off carpet?” and Google will find the best result, rather than the one that has the most instances of the words “crayon” and “carpet”. Another big plus of Hummingbird is that it will recognise synonyms, so if you have optimised for “copywriter” you can also be find by people looking for “marketing writer” or “business writer” (especially if you focus on this minor keywords as well).
Responsive design: Mobile friendly sites will becoming more and more of a business necessity as more and more people use their smart phones and tablets to search the web. According to Forbes, by 2017, 87 per cent of connected device sales will be smart phones and tablets. So it will be vital to ensure their user-experience is not compromised when they visit your site, and it’s much easier for you to choose a responsive design, rather than manage two separate sites.
Social signals: Having a strong social media presence will be more and more intertwined with your SEO strategy. By now, online marketers are aware that social signals play a part in organic traffic, as one of the three pillars of SEO (the others being content and links).
Apart from the SEO advantages, social media can also lead to being considered an authority in your field and a business person that can be trusted. And what is a business without the trust of its potential clients or customers?
Content: We have said before that content is king, and it will be even more so in 2014. But it needs to be relevant and meet the needs of the searcher. Which means optimising for a narrower range of keywords (less is more)
Visual marketing: As popular sites such as BuzzFeed and Pinterest have shown us, image-based content has massive potential to go viral. Also, adding great images or infographics to your blog posts can increases the chances of them being shared on social media sites. But don’t forget to optimise your images by using keywords in the meta descriptions and alt tags.
Direct Sites Online wishes everyone a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. We look forward to working with you in 2014, so please contact us on 02 9557 7623 or email firstname.lastname@example.org