The Times They are A-Changing

Bob Dylan’s famous lyric appropriately described the social upheaval of the 60’s. It could also apply to what we see happening today in the realm of marketing.

The way we use the Internet for business development is rapidly Bob_Dylan_-_The_Times_They_are_a-Changinshifting; the pace of innovation is head-spinning! This is especially true from an online marketing perspective. Online tools and technologies continue to adapt, evolve and become more advanced.

Of the many developments we witnessed in 2013, we have cited five you should be aware of if you want to leverage online market to its fullest potential.

1. Going Mobile

Smartphones are now the norm; iPhones, Android/Microsoft and Blackberry based devices have become ubiquitous. According to a 2013 study, 63% of cell phone owners use them to go online. Furthermore, 34% of this group report using their phone to access the Internet more than they use other technologies such as lap top computers, tablets, etc.

This trend will continue – more people in more demographics are using smartphones, downloading

What does this mean for your online presence?

Mobile users are looking for businesses while they are on the go. Local search is therefore more important than ever. Set up and verify a Google Places/Google+ Local listing and other online directories to ensure your business is found when a “now-buyer” is looking for what you do.

Your website must be mobile-friendly. This means a “responsive design” or a dedicated mobile version of your site that looks good and performs well on a small screen. Otherwise, you could miss out on potential customers who land on your web site through their mobile devices.

2. Google Changes the Rules – Again!

Google made significant changes to its search algorithm in 2013. From Panda to Hummingbird, the result is that Google is becoming more intelligent.

In addition to seeking fresh, relevant content, Google is increasingly able to decipher natural language and context. It is also taking into account social signals, such as those from Google+. This means that SEO “tricks” like keyword stuffing simply will not work anymore.

Beyond that, Google has changed the way AdWords works. Google has beefed them up with free extensions, which make pay-per-click ads even more effective for driving traffic and leads. Those who aren’t using extensions are starting to be penalized in the paid search results.

What does this mean for your online presence?

SEO technicians can no longer “game the system”. This is actually a great thing for small and mid-sized businesses that didn’t have the know-how to exploit loopholes in the Google algorithms in the first place.

Instead of relying on technical SEO tricks, Google will now favour those businesses that are using tried-and-true “Marketing 101” practices; creating quality content and cultivating an engaged community.

If you are using Google AdWords, you must use the appropriate available extension(s). They are designed to help searchers, as well as improve your rank on Google’s paid results.
The bottom line: Google’s job is to provide value for searchers. That means that your job is to provide value for your prospects and customers in ways that Google recognizes.
3. Content Marketing is More Crucial than Ever

We have discussed the importance of content creation and distribution at length (and frequently!).

Getting noticed, and establishing credibility online, requires a commitment to sharing your knowledge and expertise. Those organizations that make a commitment to educating their target audiences by developing and disseminating relevant and interesting content will rise above the pack.

And the significance of content marketing has only become more pronounced in 2013 with the new Google algorithm changes.

People are now accustomed to consuming content in many formats and through various channels (video, images, text, in blogs, on social networks, etc.) so you must use a varied approach that makes the most sense for your prospects and influencers.

What does this mean for your online presence?