It’s that time of year again, when we ring in the new and make plans for the year ahead. Not everyone likes to make New Year’s resolutions, but unless your online marketing program is rock solid (don’t worry, nobody’s is), there’s no better time to commit to improvement.
So, if you don’t like to commit to New Year’s resolutions, consider this just a new tip sheet for achieving your marketing goals in 2013:
1. Optimize your website for smartphones and tablets.
Computers are no longer your main concern when it comes to website compatibility. Smartphone and tablet sales are eclipsing computer sales, and these mobile devices are what people are using to search the web. Too many websites fail the mobile device compatibility test, but by this time next year everyone will have adapted their websites to mobile technology. Make sure you jump on the bandwagon sooner than later. Remember, it’s not enough just to have a website that doesn’t compartmentalize and break apart on mobile devices; you want users to be able to log on easily and navigate your site intuitively from their cell phone or iPad. That means customizing your website specifically for those devices.
Even more specifically, when a person is web searching on an iPhone or iPad, they will be more apt to use their fingers to scroll pages than rely on hyperlinks to move from page to page. Also, no page should ever require the reader to scroll from left to right. Buttons and form fields should be large, easy to read and fill the screen. Keep in mind that on average, 25 percent of your potential customers are visiting your site from a mobile device, and that figure is growing exponentially.
2. Create at least two pages of new content every week.
Every time you add fresh information to your website, your search engine rankings get a boost. Google is persnickety when it comes to determining a site’s SEO ranking, and the frequency in which you inject fresh, unique, relevant content to your site will be critical in determining your place in search engine results.
In 2013, make it routine to add two items of fresh content to your website every week. Make it a blog post, add new resources to your Resources section (if you don’t have a Resources section, add one). Interview an expert and add a Q&A forum, or even add a new page to your site. Make yourself a solemn promise to add new content at least twice weekly, and reap the benefits of your increased search engine rankings.
3. While you’re at it, create new content for distribution too.
Website content is only a part of your strategy to improve SEO. You also want to get links to your website, and the best way to accomplish this is through the creation of excellent content worthy of sharing – articles, press releases, and videos for instance. Have a professional craft a press-ready press release at least once a month for maximum benefit, and distribute it through online wire services to bloggers, industry sites, publications and partners. By doing so, you’re improving your company’s branding, boosting credibility and goodwill, and increasing traffic to your website via those all-important in-bound web links that define results-driven SEO. The more competitive your business, the more important new content is to your success.
4. Make your social networking pages (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest) more interesting.
Do not follow in the footsteps of most businesses that fail miserably when it comes to engaging with their social media audiences. If you are not putting effort into your Facebook and Twitter pages, you are wasting a valuable resource and you’re falling further and further behind the competition each day. Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm determines which content will appear in users’ streams. It also penalizes posts with low numbers of “Likes,” comments, and shares.
Take an honest look at your Facebook page and ask yourself if you think it’s interesting enough to capture yourself as a reader, or a fan, or a follower. The more competitive your business, the more important your social networking pages are to your online marketing success. Make it interesting. Make people want to be on your page, and make sure they will want to come back for more.
5. Don’t abuse or misuse anchor texts. A word of warning about SEO – Google is on to all of us. They have taken to ranking real brands over the average website, and Google doesn’t really care about your anchor texts. Why? Because Google has figured out that only approximately 2 percent of anchor texts are natural. You need to think about how a real person would post. When it comes to products or services, they are going to link to it via a raw URL, brand name, or a simple command such as “click here.”
We put a lot of emphasis on keywords, but the truth is that most bloggers don’t take the time to consider what keywords they should use to link to a website in order to boost SEO rankings. If you contribute content to another website, don’t agonize over anchor texts. It’s more important for the content to read natural, and if it doesn’t don’t bother posting it. Google is fond of in-text citation and relevance of the content you are publishing. For instance, if you’re writing a blog article on tax law and you’re using various appropriate industry terms, Google will read that and award you a high ranking.
6. Don’t stop learning. If you enter into 2013 with no other piece of advice, you will be OK. Being an active learner all the time is the most underrated, overlooked and foolishly ignored activity any business owner or manager can latch on to. And I don’t just mean what’s already obvious – do more than read the articles on SEO, for instance. Become involved in the SEO community. Become a regular reader of the SEOmoz Blog, follow influential SEO guides on Twitter and Google+. Communities like Inbound.org are great places to go for the latest research and inspiration. Read at least a few articles pertaining to online marketing every week, if you aren’t already. The online marketing industry is evolving at lightning speed, meaning once you fall too far behind there may be no catching back up. Make learning all you can about the latest in online marketing one of your priorities in 2013.