Dec 25, 2014

10 Online Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015

Digital marketing has over the last few years undergone a substantial transformation, becoming an increasingly important medium for creating an online brand experience.

Just like any field that relies on communication technologies, online marketing is rapidly developing towards some directions and departing from others, rendering some practices obsolete. What’s in store for digital marketers in the upcoming year?

Read on to find out what are the major online marketing trends and predictions for 2015.

1. The Rise of Content Marketing

more trafficThe popularity of content marketing strategies will continue unabated into the upcoming year, which essentially means that marketers will abandon the traditional digital marketing tactics in favor of creating more relevant and inspiring content. Instead of relying on tested solutions, companies will pay more attention to customer experience and curate content in a more emphatic, client-oriented way.

Along will rise budgets allocated to content marketing and the importance of companies that reach out to their customers in writing – B2B companies with blogs are expected to generate 67% more leads per month than those organizations that don’t have blogs. High-quality and relevant content will be key to digital marketing of the future.

2. Augmented Reality & Wearable Technology

Closing the gap between the online and offline experience will be a big step not only for online marketing, but for Internet in general. One of the first possible technological applications meant to combine online and offline are micro-location technologies, in particular Apple’s iBeacon, which has during the last year completely revolutionized the scene and is slowly being introduced into commercial settings.

But that’s not all. Wearable technology will become popular enough for us to see some of the first marketing application of the technology. The Internet of things will create a completely new kind of environment and marketers will have to keep up with its rapid development in order to stay in touch with the changing needs of consumers.

3. Marketing Analytics Will Bloom

Marketers already use dozens of analytics tools in order to see how customers interact with their company’s products or services. The importance of this section of marketing will rise in 2015, when spending for that purpose are expected to rise by 60%.

Furthermore, we’ll see marketing automation technologies applied more and more often – their use is predicted to grow by 50%. In short, marketing data will become a crucial point in any marketing endeavor and its acquisition will be easier and faster. Consumers will generate a vast amount of detailed information and companies are expected to use specialized software to help them in making sense of the data at hand.

4. More Videos Than Ever

During the last few years, the use of videos for marketing purposes has been steadily growing. Videos are perfect to show how a service or product works in such a way that is impossible to achieve with text or images only. This trend s most likely to continue into 2015, when more and more companies will start creating the so-called ‘explainer videos’ and giving them a prominent role in the user experience tactics.

5. Personalized Means Better

Marketers want users to interact with their content, and what better way to achieve that than through providing something relevant? By offering personalized content during the last year, companies were able to increase the number of sales, lower the costs of operation, inspire users to stay longer on their websites and foster customer satisfaction. Personalization is expected to become a widely adopted practice in 2015, leading to the growth of 1-to-1 marketing.

6. More Marketing Noise Than Ever

Together with increased interest in content creation goes marketing noise – a kind of low quality content that doesn’t really add any value. Because marketers will focus more on providing interesting and engaging content, we might see marketing noise slowly losing its power.

Over the last few years, marketers increasingly appreciated a long copy over short one and we’ll see this trend blooming in 2015. The length and value of the content will be more essential than ever for effective SEO – Google already labels content of less than 200 words as Thin Content and has two special search algorithms in force, Panda 4.0 and Pay Day 2.0, that are specifically aimed at reducing the ranks of low quality content.

7. Visual Storytelling Will Go Wild

Due to the increase in marketing noise, marketers will need to find a medium that will help their message to stand out from the crowd and that could be visual storytelling. Perfect for engaging and nurturing engaged consumer communities, visual storytelling will be employed to communicate the brand’s philosophy and aesthetics.

Together with increased use of videos, visual stories crafted for marketing purposes will be able to spark the movement and inspire emotions, sending a clear message about the brand to its consumer communities and helping to define it against the surrounding surge of noise.

8. More Money Allocated in Online Ads

The web is a place, where people spend their time during work and free time, giving marketers a wealth of great opportunities for targeting, segmentation and tracking options that are simply unavailable in traditional offline advertisements.

Internet advertising is predicted to rise by 10% – on a global rate! Furthermore, mobile ads are also expected to grow by a smashing 48% in 2015. Consequently, online ad spending will increase during next year and this trend will continue further on, allowing marketers to precisely target specific user groups.

9. Hyper-Segmentation and Micro Targeting

Lots of people use various websites and leave a whole wealth of data on the web – Facebook and Twitter can act as valuable repositories of data about their audience. Access to this information will allow marketers to target niche audience sizes and the use targeted advertising more efficiently than ever.

In general, there’s a fair amount of social acceptance for the use of data for online advertising – perhaps more than you would expect, since only 47% of consumers opposed a law that limited the use of data for this purpose. Targeted ads are considered twice as effective as non-targeted ones and one study demonstrated that retargeted display ad will inspire 1000% more people to search for this product! No wonder that targeting strategies are expected to dynamically rise in 2015.

10. Going Mobile All The Way

cThe importance of mobile will grow in each and every aspect of business, online marketing included. People use mobile devices all day long and in various contexts, allowing marketers to target them in a longer stretch of time and during different phases of the day – at work, during rest or play.

Some believe that the mobile web will become bigger than desktop usage in 2015, but one thing is clear – spending for mobile ads will grow – and grow fast. All agree that the popularity of mobile devices will only grow in 2015, driven by smartphones, tablets and wearable technology.

In order to stay effective, online marketing strategies should immediately respond to the preferences and behaviors of their targeted audiences and follow consumers in their daily use of the web. Considering those ten trends and predictions for 2015, there’s no doubt about one thing – marketers will find next few years inspiring deep changes in the ways in which consumers interact with online environments.

Source: Inboundnow

Top 7 SEO Trends That Will Dominate 2015

The SEO industry in 2014 is virtually unrecognizable from that of 2011 and earlier, and this coming year we’ll see even more changes in best practices for the industry and how we execute SEO campaigns.

Earlier this year I wrote about The Top 7 SEO Trends Dominating 2014, but as we quickly approach 2015, I wanted to take a look at what’s changed in recent months and what we can expect over the next year.

1. SEO will become focused on technical elements while content marketing will drive search rankings

In the not-so-distant past, the terms content marketing and SEO were often used interchangeably. This isn’t surprising given the enormous overlap between the two. However, throughout 2015, SEO will increasingly be seen as encompassing the technical components of online marketing, whereas content marketing will be the key driver of search engine rankings.

SEO will remain an invaluable subset of content marketing, dealing with keyword research, meta tags, indexing issues and penalty recovery, while content marketing will become the primary influencer of search visibility. Businesses that continue to focus on SEO without having a strong content plan in place will fail, and will need to shift their focus to the creation and distribution of high-quality content in order to achieve significant search engine visibility.

2. Sites that aren’t optimized for user intent and mobile SEO will fail

In 2014, it has become increasingly obvious that Google is placing a great deal of importance on mobile usability. We’ve seen Google testing mobile-friendly icons next to search results, as well as adding a mobile usability section in Google Webmaster accounts so users can see how their site performs on mobile devices. We also know that for over a year now, Google has been penalizing sites that generate errors for mobile users. For more on this, see my article, Is Mobile Usability Now a Search Ranking Factor?

Technical aspects aside, we’ve also seen a shift toward long-tail keyword searches, and optimizing for searches based on user intent and mobile habits. For instance, we know that mobile users consume content differently that desktop users: they’re more likely to use voice search, access content at different times or in different locations than desktop users, and are looking for information to accomplish specific tasks while ‘on the go.’

Businesses that fail to tailor their website and content to these users will see their conversions plummet, and will experience a significant drop in search engine rankings. For a complete checklist for optimizing your content for mobile, see my post 10 Steps to Creating a Mobile-Optimized Content Strategy.

3. Brand mentions and citations will become as powerful as links

In a recently discovered patent submission, we see that Google is differentiating between “express links” and “implied links”. Express links, what we traditionally and currently think of as links, are URLs that lead back to a webpage (for instance, Implied links, however, can include referencing or mentioning a brand or website without actually linking to the site.

Due to the widespread misuse and abuse of link building (think link building schemes and negative SEO), Google appears to placing more emphasis on brand mentions and citations, which are less likely and less easy to be manipulated for the purpose of achieving higher search rankings. Over the course of 2015, we’ll see more businesses measuring and tracking brand mentions and nofollowed links, and we’ll discover that these are becoming just as important as “dofollow” links for search rankings.

For a detailed analysis of this, see my article, Implied Links, Brand Mentions and the Future of SEO Link Building.

4. Following the failed Google+ Authorship experiment, Google will place more value on social signals from Twitter and Facebook

Over the past couple years, SEO and social media experts have been pushing businesses to have a strong presence on Google+; they’ve promoted Google Authorship in particular, as it was believed to be important for achieving not only high search rankings, but also improving the click-through rate of content in search engine results pages. In August, however, Google announced that they had ended their Authorship program due to low adoption rates and the fact that, as John Mueller put it, it wasn’t “as useful to our users as we’d hoped.”

Given the failure of the Authorship experiment, I believe businesses will be even less likely to build their presence on Google+, given the apparent lack of SEO benefits that can be derived from it. Instead, I believe Google will begin putting more emphasis on social signals from Facebook and Twitter, despite their hesitancy to do so in the past.

For years, there’s been plenty of speculation about whether Google already uses social signals in its ranking algorithm, and a healthy debate has arisen. Correlation studies show strong correlations between social signals and rankings, yet Google has continually denied that social signals are part of its ranking algorithm.

Despite these claims, many believe that social signals are already part of the ranking algorithm, and strong evidence has been presented to support this belief. Whether or not social signals really are currently part of the ranking algorithm, in 2015 I believe we’ll see all doubt removed – social signals will become a significant factor in the ranking algorithm.

5. Search rankings will increasingly become more about building relationships and less about technical strategies

With the vast amount of content produced and published every day, businesses are realizing that focusing on merely creating content and optimizing its technical components for SEO just aren’t enough to achieve their goals. Marketers are already realizing that businesses that are able to humanize their brand are the ones who are standing out; and I believe this will only increase in importance in 2015.

High search rankings can no longer be achieved by isolated webmasters who focus on technical compliance; rather, there must be a shift toward relational strategies such as blogger outreach campaigns, building relationships with brand advocates, reaching out to influencers and engaging on social media.

6. Negative SEO will be a bigger threat than ever

Earlier this year, I wrote about the impact of negative SEO on search engine rankings. In short, negative SEO is when dubious people build thousands of spammy links pointed at a competitors’ website with the intent of causing their search rankings to plummet. This has been a serious problem for webmasters over the past couple years, and in 2015 negative SEO will become an even bigger threat to business owners.

In a recent Google Webmaster Office Hours, Google’s John Mueller stated that it can take up to 9 months for disavow files to be completely “taken into account.” Since disavowing links is the only method Google has given webmasters for distancing themselves from spammy links pointing to their website, this means that a negative SEO attack could have catastrophic consequences for businesses, erasing their search visibility for large chunks of a year.

While small sites will likely never have to deal with it, larger sites in competitive niches are prime targets for Negative SEO. Negative SEO will also need to be taken more seriously by Google, as these types of attacks undermine the very foundation of search quality. Rather than putting the onus on webmasters to disavow spammy links, Google will need to find ways to recognize manipulative links built to compromise websites, and penalize the perpetrators. And all this without the involvement of webmasters, in order to maintain the integrity of search results.

7. SEO will no longer be an isolated department, but become fully integrated with other aspects of marketing

Traditionally, many businesses have or have had dedicated SEO departments or hired SEO companies or consultants. However, as SEO, social media and content marketing all converge to achieve the same goals, the three will need to be fully integrated in order to succeed.

Dedicated SEO consultants and departments will begin to phase out as SEO comes to be seen not as a siloed discipline, but rather a foundational component that integrates with and is affected by all aspects of the marketing mix – both online and offline. We’ve already seen the shift from ‘SEO consultant’ to ‘content marketing strategist’, and this trend is only going to become amplified in 2015.

Don’t misunderstand me: SEO is not dead or dying. It’s just changing; content marketing and social media specialists will need specialized SEO knowledge and skills in order to be successful. However, these SEO strategies will be need to be fully integrated with the creation and promotion of content, rather than kept as a separate, isolated task.

Source: Forbes

Dec 5, 2014

SEO: Everything you need to know NOW ! (Part 2+3)

(Part 1)
On-Page Optimization
Creating a Healthy Website
A website can do just fine online without SEO. PPC, social media and other properly implemented off-line marketing efforts can really help a site succeed online with little or no SEO. But unless and until you begin to SEO your site it will always under perform, never quite reaching its fullest potential. Without SEO, you'll always be missing out on a great deal of targeted traffic that the other avenues cannot make up for.
So where do we start? SEO can be so broad and vast that we often don't know where we should begin, what will give us the greatest impact, and how to move forward. That's what I hope to answer here.
Building Good Title Tags
Title Tags
The title tag is the single most important piece of SEO real estate on your site. A title tag can be as long as you want, but you only have about 63 characters before the search engines cut it off. So use it wisely.
Since the title appears as the clickable link in the SERPs pages it has to be able to meet a couple of different demands.
Keyword rich
Searchers type in specific words into the search engines and they expect the engines to provide results that match their original query. We know that the search engines look at over 200 different signals to determine the relevance of any page against the keyword searched. The title tag one of them, but a very key one at that. You don't necessarily need your keyword in the title tag for it to come up in the search results, but it helps a great deal.
Titles in Serps
But what about the visitor? What does the searcher see? Let say a searcher types "how to be beautiful" into the search engine and two results are displayed. One reads "How to Look Good and Feel Great" and another reads "How to Look Beautiful Even When you Don't Feel Like It." Which of these two is more likely to be clicked by the visitor?

It's entirely likely both pages address the same concerns, but only one uses the searched keyword. More than likely, the second result will get far more clicks than the first, even if it is in a lower position in the results (which isn't likely, but lets pretend anyway.)
The next thing your title tag needs to be is compelling. We looked out how to make it more likely to be clicked simply by putting keywords in it, but that itself is only part of the issue. Going back to our example above if we put the first non-keyword using headline up against a third keyword rich headline of "Sexy and Beautiful, Today's Hottest Stars." which do you think will gain more clicks? My guess is the first one that doesn't use keywords because it is far more compelling and speaks more toward the searcher's intent. So in this situation the third headline is likely to rank higher but will receive fewer clicks.
The trick is to make sure that the title tag is both keyword rich and compelling. This will help move your site to the top of the rankings, but also ensure that visitors are more likely to click on it into your site.
Common mistakes
Title Tags
Implementing your title tags properly is crucial to ensuring they are effective. There are a number of easy mistakes that you can make if you don't take the time to do it right. It's easy to want to blast through your title tags, especially if you have a lot of pages. But because the title tag is so important, you want to take care in developing them properly. Here are a few common issues:

Same on Every Page: Each page in your site is unique, or at least it should be. This means your title tags should be unique on each page as well. On a lot of sites you'll see the same title tag across all the pages "Welcome to My Site, or something like that. That hardly describes the page at all. And show that in the search results, you're not likely to get any clicks. Go through the site and customize each title, ensuring it uniquely and accurately describes the content of the page.
Leading with Business Name: There are good reasons to have your business name present in your title tag, but that should not be by default. If you use your business name be sure to think through the reasoning and make sure it's sound. The limitations of the title tag make using your business name something you do only with great care and consideration. I'll discuss this more in a bit.
List of Keywords: Wanting to get your keywords in the title tag makes it tempting to just try to throw as many in there as you possible can. "Beauty | Makeup | Makeovers | Diet | Healthy Skin." Sure that gets all your keywords in there but does nothing to make someone want to click on the result. This means that (gasp!) you have to use keywords sparingly so you can also make the title something worth clicking on.
Lack of Description: Aside from getting your primary keywords in the title, and making it compelling, you also have to make sure the title tag provides enough of a description of the content to ensure it gets a targeted click. No sense having someone click into the site only to find the information on the page isn't what they expected. Make sure that the title describes the content in a compelling and keyword friendly way.
Branded titles
Branded titles

So let's address using your business name in your title tags. As I said earlier, sometimes its wise but that shouldn't be the default position.

In general, you can place your business name either at the front or the rear of the title tag. My rule of thumb is that you don't want to put your business name at the front of your title tag unless you have a highly recognizable brand name that the visitor will know and will likely be a click-generator from the search results. If that's not the case then you simply don't want to give up that real estate.
Branding at the rear of the title tag is a far better solution for most businesses. This helps moderately known or even unknown companies build brand name recognition. The downside of branding your title tags this way is you are still using up valuable real estate that might otherwise be used making a keyword rich and compelling headline. Also note, that if the title goes too long, your business name will be cut off in the search results.
Most of the time you don't need your business name in your title tags at all, however there is one time when I would suggest leaving it off almost 90% of the time. This is on product pages. It's so crucial to get important product data into the title tag that there often simply isn't room enough for your business name. Again, I might make an exception for well-known business names, but default to showing product info first and foremost.
Meta Description Tag
Meta Description Tag
One of the big misconceptions about SEO is that everything we do is designed to increase search engine rankings. This isn't (or shouldn't be) true, and there is no simpler example of that then the Meta Description tag. Even though this description tag doesn't weigh all that heavily into the search engine ranking algorithms, it is still a very powerful part of an effective optimization campaign.
Like the Title Tag, the Meta Description tag will often show up in the search results. Generally what you see in the SERPs is the clickable title link and then the description tag or page snippet just below it. If the description is pulled in to the results, it becomes a very important part of helping entice visitors to click on the link into your site.
If your description tag fails to properly or adequately tell your visitors whats on the page then it's likely they'll click on another result.
The reason why many people don't put much stock into the description tag is because they are stuck on the belief that people click on rankings, not on search results. This isn't true. Sure, more people click on sites that rank higher, but only if those sites also have compelling titles and descriptions, which is often not the case. Few people blindly click links without first vetting them, and those that do often find themselves disappointed if they do.
Those who take the time to look through the search results, reading titles and descriptions to find the site that is most likely to give them what they are looking for, are more likely to be a targeted visitor one they land on your site.
If you're like me then you read descriptions before the title tags in the search results. I figure it's easy to stuff the main keywords in the title, but the description is more likely to have some of the longer tail phrases that I'm looking for. If the title matches my search broadly, the description should match much more specifically. If it doesn't then I'm probably looking at the wrong result.
The general rule is that you want each of your description tags to be unique. The description should b e a 20-40 word summary of what the visitor will expect to find on that page, and that page only. Descriptions for each page should be unique from the next. Make sure you summarize the page in a unique way, using primary and secondary keywords while making it compelling to searchers.
You don't always want or need a description tag on every page. There are some instances when you would be better served not having a description at all. For me, the general rule is if you're targeting broader keywords, use the description tag. If you're targeting long-tail keywords then don't.
The reasoning here is that if you're going after long-tail phrases on an article page or blog post, then there are simply too many variations to attempt to work them into a 40-word description. On the other hand, if those long-tail words are in the content, without the description tag, the search engine will import snippets from the page based on the search. This increases your likelihood of getting actual keywords into the description content below the clickable link in the search results.
Meta Keywords Tag
Meta Keyword Tag

The only thing there is to say about the Meta Keyword tag is that there isn't much to say about it. The search engines don't put much, if any, stock in it and your visitors don't see it. By all measures its invisible.
But that doesn't keep people from asking, Do I use commas or spaces? Do I use phrases or words? How long should the keyword tag be?
The answer is: It doesn't matter. If you are going to take the time to add the meta keywords tag to your pages then I suggest this: don't waste your valuable time worrying about the "right" way to write it. Throw a few keywords in there and walk away. Don't worry about formatting, spacing, commas, length or anything like that. Keep is short, sweet and move on.

Source: SearchEngineGuide