Search Marketing Trends for 2016
With less than three months left in 2015 digital marketers have begun to conjure up their predictions for 2016, which can only mean one thing, more fluffy marketing buzzwords. It’s safe to say our industry is equally as good at sales as we are at getting a website to rank on page 1 of Google.
As 2015 draws to end we begin to ask ourselves the same question we did at this point last year. How does a small business owner or a director of fortune 500 company ensure they are not missing any online elements in their marketing portfolio in the year to come?
On 18 November I will be giving two talks at the Digital Marketing Show and it is here where I will be revealing how you can prepare your business for 2016. In an effort to not reveal my entire talk, I have outlined all of the trends in 2016 that I’ll look to discuss. What I haven’t revealed, is the free tools you can leverage to ensure your website and business is well equipped for 2016.
Below are the search marketing trends for 2016:
Google Knowledge Graph
For those of you who are not familiar with Google knowledge graph, it is an intelligence-based system that collates facts about people, places and how entities are connected. This has replaced the historic template-like search facility Google offered pre-2012 and made it much more interactive. Take for example when you search for information on the different ‘provinces in Canada’ – you will most likely see the image below. All the areas outlined in red are being populated as a result of the Google Knowledge Graph.
Directly under the search bar you can see images, for each of the different provinces, and to the right hand side you can see various snippets of information related to Canada. Without even having to click on a website, a user has a list of all the different provinces with images, Canada’s national flag, where the country is located, its capital, when it was founded, and much more. For many, theirsearch will end here as they’ve already received all the information required.
The evolution of Google Knowledge graph over the past three years has SEO agencies like ourselves questioning whether our work is being undermined. Primarily because with the increased prominence of Google Knowledge Graph website owners are having to fight even harder to maintain their search ranking real-estate. In 2015 one in five searches results will include a Google Knowledge graph feature and to make matters even worse we’ve already seen Google reduce the amount of website search results from the traditional ten to seven. So what does this mean and how do we adapt?
Historically Google has fulfilled the role of being a middleman connecting user queries with suitable resources/answers via websites. Now you can see large snippets of information related to a search query without even clicking on a website. As a mechanism, Google Knowledge Graph, has the ability to influence where search traffic is directed and ultimately controlling the revenues you can gain. Branded searches to information-based searches are increasingly displaying on Knowledge Graph sidebar panels for everyone from corporations to small local businesses, eliminating some of the need to visit a website. As a result we need to start thinking of Google as not just a search engine but also as a website or landing page! Content marketers who understand this transition and accurately segment search terms by those effected by the Google Knowledge Graph, and those that aren’t, will be successful come 2016.
Rather than trying to beat Google Knowledge Graph, invest your time trying to leverage what’s featured in the knowledge graph function and begin trying to interpret a user’s next search. In 2011, the average shopper used 10.4 sources of information prior to making a decision, be the 10th website not the first.
Understanding which keywords are influenced by Google Knowledge Graph paired with adding what is referred to as Structured Markup’ to your site, will result in drastically increased click through to your site. This is all achievable by using a 100% free highlighting tool which 80% of business owners are currently not using.
Have you ever read a marketing magazine or article with the title “Content is King?” You’re not alone; there is over 365 million search results for the term.
For those of you who are unaware, content marketing is the practice of producing engaging content related to your line of business and having it featured on either your website or 3rd party websites.
Content marketing will remain important come 2016 and won’t be a buzzword that will tail off anytime soon. The competition is fierce and your competitors may be already churning out content on a weekly or even daily basis meaning more links to their site and most likely out ranking you on Google. Well you’re in luck – this broadcasting mentality is no longer as effective! Come 2016 we should be looking to target actionable keywords that have search volumes no greater then 50 and in content pieces over 1000 words. Highly segmented, highly targeted, and detailed content is what search engines value. This change in content marketing and the targeting of keywords with lower search volumes is often referred to as “narrow casting.” Content which is highly segmented, authentic, unique, well written, and visual is what will rank well.
A year ago, Buffer ran a study that found blog posts that exceed 2,500 words receive an average of 6,600 more social shares. In 2016, this trend will hold true and contrary to popular belief we find content over 1,500 words performs better. As a general rule of thumb I always advise clients to use short form content for social platforms to drive traffic to your site and long form content on your site. Long form content builds long lasting relationships with consumers and short form content build interest. Without getting into a short verse long content debate, our findings and other studies have concluded that short form content is not the answer. Contrary to popular, belief users value an authentic and brave content no matter the character count.
In this section during my talk I will show how you can test which types, formats and lengths of content performs best for your website.
Average Websites Won’t Cut It
In 2016 there are no excuses for an outdated website! No matter the dependency of your business on the Internet you should have an aesthetically pleasing and easy to read website. In 2006 a study concluded that people are able to form a reliable first impression within half a second. Often referred to as the First Moment Truth, the critical moment when a customer makes the decision to reach a particular brand or product. You can offer the best-in-class service or have the best products in the market place, but if you don’t have website that reflects these praises you have already lost some potential business. The consumer decision-making process has become increasingly relevant for marketers, and the last thing you would want to do is deter a user by having a less then optimal website.
In 2012 Google concluded that websites with little design complexity and a high degree of familiarity were perceived as highly appealing. Generating a positive first impression through your website can be a difficult ask, especially if you don’t have an internal web development team or budget to work with a web agency. In this instance you have to either – bite the bullet – and contact a reputable web agency to help or test your luck at using some very user friendly web design templates.
Another thing to add to the mix is “mobilegeddon”, a term coined by marketers but still not apart of Microsoft Words spell check. A couple of months back, Google announced it would begin penalising sites that weren’t responsive. If you’re not sure if your site is responsive, Google has a free tool that only requires you to input your site’s URL. The result will tell you whether your site is responsive or not (click here to test your site).
In my talk I will discuss what formats of content work best in capturing the attention of a user in less than a second, even if you’re an unfamiliar brand.
The scepticism surrounding digital marketing 2-3 years ago is no longer as apparent as it once was. As an agency in 2015 we spent drastically less time convincing senior stakeholders and small-medium enterprises why they should invest in digital and more time discussing digital strategies unique to their offerings. This change in mentality has business owners asking a new set of questions – “Where do I invest and how much?” rather than “Why bother with online marketing?”
Investing in the development of a mobile app is not often feasible for many businesses. However for those who can afford the creation of an app that closely parallels a business service, while also satisfying a consumer need, should pursue this opportunity. Here’s are 3 reasons why:
- Nielsen recently conducted a study and found that 89% of media time on mobile devices is spent on mobile apps. Remember the most popular social networks, SMS, email, news, and gaming sites all come in the form of apps.
- Mobile apps offer on the go marketing. With mobile apps users can access your business anywhere around the world, at any time and in a user-friendly environment.
- Finally and most importantly both Apple and Google have begun indexing content within apps. As Search engines are starting to index content within apps businesses now have a two-pronged approach to improving ranking on Google (see below example). Not to mention you can now be prompted to download apps directly from organic search results, as seen below.
Link Image found here
Businesses that can’t afford the creation of an app can leverage already existent apps. This is what large brands like Calvin Klein, have been so successful at doing in the past and continue to do so. They target specific marketing campaigns whilst paralleling their messaging with specific app audience demographics
In my talk I will discuss how brands can tap into an already existent apps audience through the use of paid search platforms and clever marketing placements.
LinkedIn’s new “connected’ networking app does a brilliant job of using anticipatory based advertising to help you grow and stay in touch with your network. If you don’t have the LinkedIn Connected networking app on your mobile phone, I urge you to download it (iOS & Google Play). If you’re like me and find yourself preparing for meetings in an Uber whilst on your way to meet a new client, then the app provides timely details when you need it most. LinkedIn Connect integrates with your calendars, providing background information on other LinkedIn members you’ll be meeting.
Think of anticipatory computing as an invisible help button that you never have to push because the internet can anticipate your needs ahead of time. Anticipatory computing understands a conversion with a machine in real time and delivers relevant information to you. Take for example the LinkedIn Connect app:
- It knew I was travelling to a meeting
- As a result it automatically populated the meeting attendees LinkedIn profiles on my phone
- This allowed me to make the connection that both myself and Johnny, whowent to the same University
- The result was a perfect ice breaker to a new business lead
The adoption of wearable technology has extended the data available for anticipatory marketing. So much so that data mining experts are now claiming that, by knowing where you are throughout the day, and who you are with, they will be able to alert you on the likelihood of catching the flu. Or a more practical example would be the recent project to alert drivers through their GPS devices when there is ice on a bridge by using sensors embedded in concrete. This ability to understand data can transform the way humans and computers interact – and this instance make our lives safer.
Machine-to-machine communication and how we predict a consumer’s next move or need is simply the ability to gather, anticipate and leverage data. Whether it’s through the use of an excel spreadsheet or expensive cloud based data mining applications, there are still ways you can anticipate or facilitate human interaction through simple logic, and with little expense, which will be discussed during my talk.
Location Based Advertising
Location based advertising is the use of tools such as GPS and geo-fencing, allowing marketers to target users at a point of engagement. Sometimes referred to as ‘point of interest marketing’ this form of advertising is all based on context, time, location, mood and weather.
Who has received a text message from on a Friday night the moment you walk by your local Domino’s offering you a discounted or free pizza? I’m guilty of picking up a two for one pizza when I had every intention of making dinner. There is even a UK Reddit Group called “I get more texts from my local Domino’s, than any of my friends” which can be found in the sub-reddit ‘UK Problems’. Nuisance or not, this has been a huge success with 35% of all Domino’s digital sales coming from mobile.
There are many great concepts and that are entirely reliant on Location based advertising. Take for example US music group BlueBrain who has produced the world’s first ‘location aware music album’ which changes the mood of the music as the app user walks by different locations. Imagine visiting Abbey Road and your portable music device or mobile begins playing a classic Beatles song. As a business you should be seeking ways to integrate location based targeting into your marketing plans. There are various cost-effective platforms and workarounds that allows you to deliver advertisements to very specific demographic at highly converting times. These will also be discussed during my talk at the Digital Marketing Show.
As mentioned throughout this article, I will be speaking at the Digital Marketing Show from 3:40 – 4:10 on 18 November and 1:40- 2:10 on 19 November. The event is taking place at the Excel Center, is free to attend. It’s here where I will introduce you to some free tools that many digital marketing agencies are reluctant to share. If you cannot attend the talk, feel free to come by our stand where we’ll be giving away free Google Analytics audits – all you need is your analytics login details.