The online marketing environment is constantly evolving. Here are some of the key trends and activities which small business owners need to be aware of in 2013. SEO but not as we know it 89% of all web searches in the UK are still made using Google. In the past year the company has made several changes to the way it ranks websites; some search engine optimisation (SEO) tricks and techniques are no longer effective and in fact will harm your search engine rankings (for example spam blogs and automated link building systems). Google is making these changes to drive marketers and website ‘owners’ to focus on providing value to their readers. It will continue to release updates and looking for quick fixes to deal with these is only a short-term solution. The long-term solution to improving your search engine rankings is investing in useful, relevant information and content. Content, content, content ‘Content is king’ is a message which has been filtering through for a while but it was only in 2012 that it really became mainstream. What does it mean? It’s marketing focused on creating high-quality material which is of value to your customers and prospects, for example by providing a solution to a problem they have or improving their knowledge and understanding. It’s not just written content such as a blog giving advice, it can be a product demo video or an infographic getting across complex information in a simple way. When used effectively, content can generate leads and sales. Tailor content by researching the needs of your customers and prospects and always keep your business objectives in mind. Want to sell more product X? Photos can show product X in use, a video can show why it’s a better product than product Y, while a blog can outline an issue a customer was facing and how product X helped them overcome it. There are many options available and they don’t always involve spending big money. SEO and social media Having an active social media presence is now more important than ever. Share an interesting comment or some great content and your audience will link to it and share it again, promoting it to their wider network. Search engines see these endorsements and mentions as important ranking factors, so they boost your search engine visibility. There’s a number of social media platforms and maintaining a presence can take up time and resources so make sure you focus your efforts on the channels which give you the best return. Speak to your customers and research what your competitors are up to, this should give you a good idea about what your business should be doing. Responsive website design The way people access the web is changing very rapidly. Ofcom research in 2012 found that tablet ownership had jumped from 2% to 11% in the previous 12 months and that the proportion of people accessing the internet via their mobiles had grown to 39%. These trends will only keep growing as smartphones become the norm and tablet ownership becomes more accessible. What does this mean for your business? Customers and prospects will expect as good an experience when accessing your website through a mobile as they do when accessing it through a desktop PC. When it’s the right time for your business to update its website, make sure it’s a responsive design. This is where a website is built so that its layout and design automatically change according to the device that’s accessing it. There’s no need for separate mobile sites or expensive apps, and you also benefit in terms of SEO as you will be driving traffic to one website only. About the author The Artlab is a search and content marketing agency based in Manchester. For more information, visit www.theartlab.co.uk.
The online marketing environment is constantly evolving. Here are some of the key trends and activities which small business owners need to be aware of in 2013.