New Year’s Day has come and gone, and the month of January has almost disappeared before our eyes here at the offices of Eminent SEO. But, before we preview digital marketing and SEO developments to look out for in 2016 on our blog, I want to take a look back at the skills we picked up and the lessons we learned as a team last year.
Google hardly stayed static in 2015, so we had to consistently adjust to keep up at every turn. Therefore, at the end of 2015, the strategies we employed and our methods of execution on behalf of our clients were quite different than they were a year prior. The evolution of Eminent SEO was even further showcased in 2015 by our expansion as a team and ensuing move into a larger office space.
After doing a quick survey around the office, I’ve arrived at the top seven SEO tricks, skills, lessons, etc. we learned in 2015 (in no particular order), along with an explanation of how each item made us stronger as a team and better benefited our beloved clients:
1. Local Search Optimization
We found local search rankings to be increasingly important in 2015, especially considering the nature of our clients. Google now localizes search for most users anyway, so it’s best to pay attention to what residents in a target market are searching. Even businesses with a national audience should still make sure their online local info is in order. What this entails is clearing up any inconsistencies with a business’s name, address and phone number across all online listings, as well as creating more listings in local and even national online directories.
In some cases, we would even use pay-per-click campaigns to test keywords in a client’s geographic area to see what’s working. Once we figured out the answer, we would implement that keyword onto the client’s site as part of their longer-term organic marketing strategy.
To learn more about how to dominate local search, see this blog post we published last May.
2. Adding Schema Markup
Related to local search optimization is adding schema markup to a website. This has to do with code that doesn’t show up on the front end of a website but that tells Google precise data that could show up in the local map or even in the “knowledge graph” of the search engine.
Schema markup helps with local search by telling Google exactly where your business is on the map. This means that if a user searches for a certain product or type of service and uses the map to find businesses in their area, your company’s name and location could show up because you fed Google the right information.
Not only can you get the company’s logo or a custom photo to show up in Google Maps, but you can also use schema to tell the search engine exactly what kind of business you are. When you take out the guesswork for Google, it will know where to rank you in organic search better and when to show your location on the map for certain search terms.
3. Tailoring User Experience to Search
In 2015, we gained a better understanding of what engages users on a website, so we tailored our content delivery accordingly. We fine-tuned our landing page optimization practices by thinking like a consumer would when finding our clients’ content in search and clicking through.
We realized that if we could build content around what users are expecting to see and learn after landing on one of our clients’ pages from search, then we could keep them on the page and site longer. These “long clicks” routinely elicit better search results and higher chances of making a conversion.
4. Better Storytelling
Online storytelling became a big trend among marketers in 2015, and we started incorporating it on behalf of our clients for better engagement. This manifested in the forms of video and other interactive content, some of it coming from the use of newer digital tools.
Basically, if you’re a B2B company or a no-frills B2C entity, you should do more than continually make a sales pitch online. You’ve got to offer content that users find personally valuable and that costs them nothing, whether it’s entertaining or informative.
Storytelling in all its forms helps accomplish this. To learn about some tools that will help you boost your online storytelling efforts, see this recent blog post.
5. Marketing to Millennials
Last year, most businesses stopped deriding millennials and decided to center their marketing efforts on this group instead. Millennials are poised to become the top age group online, and they make up a good chunk of the workforce now. They also boast considerable buying power, especially since the economy is getting better and more of them are finding viable jobs.
Advertisers understand that the later you get in life, the more loyal you will be to certain brands and products. Millennials aren’t generally as set in their ways, so they’re usually more easily persuaded into buying from a brand they haven’t tried before.
In 2015, our team started focusing more of our efforts on appealing to millennials, whether on clients’ social profiles or websites. Undoubtedly, we’ll keep this initiative going in 2016.
6. Quality over Quantity
You’re probably seeing the title of this header and asking, “Quality over quantity in what area?” The answer is in many areas. We found that one quality backlink from a highly authoritative website can do more for a client’s search rankings than a bunch of backlinks from mediocre sites.
Likewise, one rock-solid page that summarizes a number of a client’s services can often generate more traffic than breaking the services down into individual pages. Also, writing one great, in-depth blog post will usually do better than separating some of the ideas into their own smaller posts. One outstanding social media post can often gain more likes, shares, comments, etc. than a dozen or so run-of-the-mill posts combined. You get the idea.
A stronger commitment to quality over quantity is why we’ve introduced new services like Authority Content Marketing (evergreen, in-depth content that’s designed to earn shares and backlinks). It’s also why we’ve placed a newfound focus on each of our client’s website architecture, including how each site’s navigation makes for a better user experience.
7. Clearer, Customized Reporting
A client won’t stick around forever if we can’t provide proof that their website is moving them in the right direction, or if they don’t understand the numbers we’re reporting to them. We’ve always done full monthly reporting for all of our clients, but it used to be somewhat of a one-size-fits-all approach.
Last year, we realized that reporting that way doesn’t work for all clients. This is why we introduced customized, more in-depth monthly reports. Each industry is going to call for a different type of report because their goals are different, and the way their potential customers search is different. Many of our clients gauge success by the number of phone leads their website has generated, but others measure conversions by the number of online shopping cart sales, such as in the case of ecommerce clients.
In almost all cases, we had positive news to report monthly to our clients, but some of them had trouble seeing that because of the way we framed the data. Therefore, we’ve customized our reporting methods by client, collecting the right data for long-term success.
Looking Ahead Through 2016
Now that we’ve recapped what we learned last year, here are some marketing trends we’re keeping our eyes on in 2016:
- Video and video ads will evolve dramatically, such as a shift toward the vertical format, which works better with today’s heavy smartphone usage.
- Google will continue to index more content from mobile apps, so more companies might jump into that arena.
- Mobile traffic will take over and dominate desktop.
- Virtual reality will continue to emerge.
- Wearable technology will pave new ground.
- Google will continue to de-value thin content and place stronger emphasis on high-quality backlinks.
If you’re looking to stay on top of the ever-evolving standards for digital content and search engine optimization, Eminent SEO is ready to help keep your business ahead of the competition. Whether you need a whole new website or just more compelling content, Eminent SEO has a full range of services for your digital needs, with custom monthly reporting available to tell you which of your online assets are making progress.
We’ll take all we’ve learned in 2015 and apply it for the benefit of your company. Just call 800.871.4130 today to learn more and get started.