We all know that the need for good digital marketing is constant. But considering how quickly trends come and go, it can be tough for marketers to stay up-to-date with the changing times. Now that we’re well into 2019, it’s time to take an in-depth look at your current digital marketing and SEO strategy to assess whether it could use a bit of updating.
If some of these elements sound a bit introductory to you, there may be good reason to remind yourself of the basics. As Jordan McCreery of Ingrained Media points out, “So many website owners skip over the fundamentals and begin focusing on phase two or three of an SEO campaign without ever getting the proper foundation in place.” As the saying goes, you have to learn to walk before you can run. This year, make sure you’ve got all of the essential SEO elements down before you attempt to build upon them. To that end, here are some vital components of any successful SEO strategy in 2019.
Make Your Website Shine
You can’t expect to develop and execute an impressive SEO strategy if your website is lacking. If you attempt to do that, all of your hard work will essentially be for naught. Ignoring the importance of known ranking factors won’t do your site any favors, either. Essentially, you have to know what those elements are and take steps to improve them.
Ethan Giles of Novi.Digital notes, “Page speed and mobile friendliness will continue to be crucial aspects of SEO as search engines push mobile first initiatives and [as] users’ expectations of speed and usability increase.”
Ken Marshall of Doorbell Digital Marketing agrees. “As a company,” he explains, “your effort should be focused on a seamless mobile experience, improving site load times, average time on site, pages per session, CTR [click-through rate], and decreasing bounce rate. Your users will thank you by interacting with your site more, which will make Google take notice and reward you. All the hacks in the world won’t keep you ranking well if you aren’t making a push in these areas.”
Keep in mind, however, that you may need to adjust your tactics depending on your particular business or the technology you have in place. Daniel Lofaso of The Digital Elevator notes, “Digital marketing in 2019 is all about making the most effective changes that are consistent with the size site you have. The same strategies that work for new, small sites, for example, don’t always work so well with larger, more established sites (and vice versa). Increasing traffic, leads, or sales takes a unique approach — whereas before this trend, you could often do some of the same SEO strategies across the board.”
That said, some elements of your site — such as easy site navigation, fast loading speed, and mobile friendliness — are must-haves, no matter what you sell or how large the site itself is.
As Nikki Bisel of Seafoam Media explains, “Each year Google gives us pretty darn solid proof that clearing out the cobwebs on your site and making sure it’s speedy, streamlined, and well-organized is a superb way to climb the rankings… Technical SEO may not be the sexiest tactic, but Google rewards it almost every time.”
Create Stellar Content
Of course, you need to have an incredible website to serve as your base for directing traffic. But you also need to provide users with compelling reasons to come to your site in the first place. That’s really where content creation comes in.
As you may already know, content is still considered king. But you might be surprised by how many marketers overlook this pivotal component of SEO. Having too little content is bad enough, but some websites depend on subpar content — and believe that it will get the job done.
Dan DelMain of Delmain asks, “It’s 2019. Why are so many businesses still relying on boring, copy-and-paste duplicate content? It’s not compelling, doesn’t tell website visitors anything specific about your business, and is the easiest way to get penalized by search engines. No matter how strong your backlink profile is and no matter how much you optimize the rest of your site, duplicate content will tank any chance you have for ranking on the first page. Original content should be the foundation for the rest of your SEO strategy.”
And the urge to make your content overly promotional? Work on squashing it. Lance Beaudry from Avalanche Creative recommends a more informative approach: “When it comes to SEO today, you’ve got to be insanely focused on publishing content that is incredibly helpful to your target market. Get obsessed with helping your audience before you’ve sold them something. If you’re afraid you are sharing too much information, you are off to a great start.”
If you don’t think of content creation as a priority, you’re doing your business a disservice. Users won’t come to your site — or stay very long — if you aren’t providing them something of value. Jake Fisher of Bridges Advertising explains, “Pay close attention to how your content is structured. Build multiple pieces of rich content around high-value topics… Use video and interactive content, along with text blog posts, to keep users arriving from organic search on your site longer.”
You’ll want to get ultra-specific with your content, says Stoney deGeyter of The Karcher Group. “Content will be developed for increasingly smaller segments of an audience base, focused even more on specific needs, goals, and desires. There will be a greater push to ensure that landing pages align more closely with visitor goals and interests in order to not waste an ounce of traffic.”
Embrace AI and Voice Search
Today’s consumers are conducting search queries and navigating to websites quite a bit differently than in years past. That means you’ll need to make adjustments in how your site and content are optimized, as well as the formats in which they appear. Instead of dismissing factors like artificial intelligence and voice search as passing fads, you should make every effort to adopt them as part of your ongoing SEO strategy.
As Hassan Bawab of Magic Logix points out, “2019 will be about better customer experience with personalization, automation and AI-powered technology, so to stay ahead of the curve and increase conversions in the coming year, you’ll need to get better at producing custom, conversational content — particularly audio and video content — to share with your better-targeted audience.”
June Bachman of bWyse Internet Marketing agrees. “More engagement of and interaction with your customers, prospects, and website visitors will improve as we move into the future with digital marketing. Strategies and tactics such as artificial intelligence, chatbots, and live video streaming will become necessary elements integrated into small business websites and online marketing objectives.”
As consumers rely more heavily on digital assistants and voice search tools, businesses will need to incorporate these trends into the way they produce content and develop their sites. As Ryan Klein of Market My Market points out, “Voice search usage may jump as high as 80% more frequent in 2019 compared to 2018, so it’s important that websites are optimized for questions people ask their personal, voice activated devices.”
These trends are changing the way businesses will have to advertise, as well. Michael David from Tasty Placement says, “2019 and the near future will bring us to the tipping point in artificial intelligence marketing. Google’s rank brain and smart campaigns in pay-per-click are perfect examples of AI systems that are now the principal decision-makers in advertising campaigns.”
Google is always making adjustments, of course, which can force marketers to rethink their advertising strategies. As Roy Harmon of Advertoscope points out, “Changes in Google’s SERPs will mean that smaller companies will need to rely on more digital advertising to generate new business. There’s less room for organic results on the first page of search results and big brands are dominating the landscape. Smart ad buys will allow for smaller businesses to compete.”
Even the way that marketers are budgeting has changed, says Brian Beltz of Garfield Group. “The focus of our digital marketing efforts in 2019 is on aligning our paid and earned media efforts to build resonance with our target users. Instead of allocating budget to individual channels, we’re instead allocating budget on a per user and per account basis across multiple channels in order to ensure sufficient engagement of our target audience.”
Don’t Go on Auto-Pilot
It’s important to keep in mind that the very nature of digital marketing is that it’s ever-evolving. Sure, that makes it challenging for marketers — but it’s also what makes it exciting and opens up the possibility for even greater success in the future.
As Jody Resnick of Trighton Interactive sums up, “In 2019, there’s still room for improvement. What works today may not work tomorrow, but what worked last week may work again. Continuous conversion optimization testing is essential to gain a competitive edge.”
In other words: to create and maintain a successful digital marketing campaign, you can’t rely on outdated methods or be limited by your own lack of knowledge. You’ll need to be committed to constantly learning and evolving. Not only will your own expertise grow as a result, but your business will, as well.