THIS IS URGENT | Writing a Good CTA

So much of our time spent in digital marketing is preparing the customer journey for that magical moment of conversion. We organize campaigns and initiatives, write pages of copy, and pull the data we need to make informed decisions. Then, when it’s finally time to open our funnel up to the public everything can hinge on that final call-to-action (CTA)! If you’re wondering whether to use “Apply Here” or “Consult our Team of Experts” is the right phrase for your next CTA, you’ve come to the right post. Here we’ll discuss writing a good CTA and what approaches compliment your customer’s journey the best!

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writing a good cta

Spending hours on tweaking the colors or size and shapes of buttons can only really get you so far. While your conversion funnel has many specific elements to inform and persuade your customers, the moment of their decision really comes down to your CTA’s invitation. For paid search advertisements in general, you are dependent on the copy itself rather than imagery or video. In all honesty, writing a good CTA means different things for each and every business.

The best way to break it down is by understanding the intent and goals of your customers, thus crafting your CTA to reflect this!


People Search with Goals in Mind

In the age of digital marketing, we’ve come to think of the customer journey as something much more complex than simply seeing a commercial and entering credit card information. Customers may interact with your brand or product several times and on different platforms before even considering a purchase! Viewing your CTA as a reflection of a search’s urgency is the way to really zero-in on what to say.

Low-Urgency Searches

For potential customers in the low-urgency bracket, they may be just flirting with the idea of your product or service. Generally speaking, using words like “free” or “no-risk” can be turnoffs for paid search marketers, however, it’s about the phrase as a whole.

If you’ve got a hot-new SEO tool, you might approach your CTA like:

“Start Gaining New Insights | Free Trials Available”

At this point, you’re just looking to get people familiarized with your product or service. Offering freebies is the way to go if you’re not quite tailoring your efforts to our next level of urgency…

Medium-Urgency Searches

If customers already have a general idea of what you sell or what they need in the end, it makes sense to start breaking out the bigger guns. These searchers are a little past the “free trials” and are more inclined to specifics. Still, they are mainly in research mode and may not be ready to buy just yet.

Using some keyword research, try to figure out how people are searching to meet their goals. Here you might want to try something along the lines of:

“3D Printers for Prototyping | Cost-Efficient Modeling”

Here you’re thinking like a customer is searching, all while adding a little extra selling point with the second half. With writing a good CTA it often comes down to getting as much information across as possible in as few words as you can.

High-Urgency Searches

At last, we’re writing with immediate solutions in mind. This is for all of the emergency car-rental services and locksmiths of the world! Still, just about any business can incorporate these CTAs into their marketing efforts, it’s just about finding the right moment in the customer journey.

writing a good cta

Writing a good CTA is about capturing the task at hand after a customer graduates from the research phase. Consider something like

“Immediate Consultations | Organize Your Taxes in Less Than 24 Hours!”

These are the types of searches that get people in touch with phone lines or online chat services for immediate service. What would seem way too pushy for a low-urgency search is generally what you’re trying for here.

At the end of the day, writing a good CTA is about getting a grip on your customers’ motivations. Addressing the various portions of your conversion funnel through different levels of urgency helps to inform your overall copy and the text used.

Got any particular examples of writing a good CTA? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

How Effective is SEO? | Digital Marketing 101

Digital marketing is a diverse field with many distinct components to explore. Generally speaking, digital marketing simply refers to all of your online marketing efforts. However, this can include social media, video content, blogging, email campaigns, and much, much more. While these different types of digital marketing may be unique, they all share one common element: the internet. Search engines allow digital marketers to disseminate information about their goods and services like never before. Yet, with so many good and services available and countless digital marketers promoting them, how does your product stand out? The answer is, of course, SEO. Given that you’re reading this blog, you probably have a decent understanding of what SEO is. Just to recap though, SEO is the process of generating traffic from free and organic search results. The video below explains this further. But, how effective is SEO? Well, that depends on who you ask. Here at Track5Media, LLC we have our view. However, before we get to that, let’s explore a few of the other opinions.

How Effective is SEO?

“SEO is Dead!”

If you work in digital marketing, you’re sure to have heard someone claim “SEO is dead”. While this view is certainly inaccurate, there may be some merit to it. SEO as it existed years ago, is dead. Before 2012, many marketers discovered high strategies that we now call “Black Hat SEO”. When search engines first began optimizing results, simple and quick tactics like dropping links to your site in comments or overloading your content with keywords helped boost website rankings rapidly. However, this was problematic. Since people were writing content for search engines rather than for the users themselves, there was a lot of content created that wasn’t helpful. In order to address this, Google began penalizing websites for many of these “Black Hat SEO” tactics. Today, the savvy blogger knows that this approach will only hurt them in the rankings. Since 2012, search engines have only become more sophisticated. Although the SEO of the past may not necessarily be relevant anymore, this does not mean that SEO is ineffective.

“Better to Just Focus on PPC”

A common frustration for digital marketers looking to gain leads quickly is the fact that SEO takes time. Unfortunately, there is no immediate route to the top of the search results. After all, if there were, we’d all be there right? In fact, developing strong SEO results can take months of work to accomplish.  But does this mean that SEO is not worth the effort? Some people suggest that it does. With the speed and availability of PPC (pay per click), many marketers suggest that it is better to focus on this option. However, while PPC certainly does generate quick leads, it should not be used at the exclusion of SEO. SEO and PPC both have certain pros and cons that cannot be ignored. For example, generating organic search through SEO can help develop the trust and credibility of your brand in the mind of consumers. PPC, on the other hand, can make your brand visible to highly relevant users. Given the obvious merits of SEO, it would be a mistake to entirely exclude it from your marketing plan. If you want to see results immediately through PPC, consider using an integrative approach that employs SEO as well.

“SEO is the Way to Go!” (The Track5Media View)

How Effective is SEO

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the view of Track5Media’s marketing team; SEO is the way to go! While we’ve mentioned a few of them already, there are countless more reasons to love SEO. Obviously, search engines change their algorithms frequently. This means that an effective SEO strategy must continuously stay up to date with any industry transitions. If this seems like a daunting task, don’t worry! The SEO community is huge and growing. There are countless resources available to help you learn how to optimize your web content. Here at Track5Media, we use SEO for all of our brands like AllTruckJobs.com and TravelNurseSource.com.

So, how effective is SEO? Obviously, there are competing opinions. Well, it has helped us become one of the fastest growing businesses in the country! That’s just one of the reasons that we’re convinced that SEO is very effective.

How effective is SEO in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below!

What is Brand Strategy? | Some Basic Tips

Here at Track5Media, we’re all about keeping our brands healthy and in tip-top shape. At the moment, we’ve got six separate lead generation websites (not including the one you’re on) that we maintain. The sites are devoted to healthcare staffing, commercial trucking, and senior care placement. And while there are many similarities between each site, their audiences and the types of content vary widely! Still, we do our best to maintain a distinct identity as Track5Media, whether that’s through our content’s voice, what we share on social media, and the overall aesthetic decisions we make. But what is brand strategy and how can you utilize it to your advantage? We’ll discuss that here!

What is Brand Strategy | Basic Starting Points

The main idea of any brand strategy is going to center on encompassing some specific, long-term goals that you can steer your product or business toward. It’s going to be figuring out exactly what aspects of your company’s character will stand out from all other competitors. Really, your brand strategy is a process that needs to connect these main things:

  • Consumer Needs
  • Your Product’s Value
  • The Competitive Environment

So while it may be natural to think that your brand strategy is your logo, your name, your website, or your product itself, this isn’t exactly true. Yes, all of these things are necessary aspects of facilitating a business, but really a brand is more closely related to the experience itself! It’s the intangible qualities of your company which are important to highlight and maintain throughout the implementation of your brand strategy.

But how? Here are some all-purpose takeaways:

Find your Purpose

As explained by Allen Adams, chairman of the North America region of brand consulting and design firm, Landor Associates,

“In a marketplace in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it’s not just making a promise that separates one brand from another, but having a defining purpose.”

Yes, it does make sense to define your business strategies in terms of the promises you make to your customers, but brand strategy often relies on that purpose you fulfill in the lives and businesses of others. In terms of how a brand exists in the real world or a digital space, Business Strategy Insider defined purpose in two general ways:

• Functional: Focuses on a business’s success in terms of the immediate or commercial reasons. Basically, the ‘how’ of your method of generating income.

• Intentional: Refers to a business’s ability to make money based on public perception and the impact it seeks to have on customers or the world in general.

what is brand strategy

Hone Your Consistency

As with any of the top brands out there, it’s often the case that there is a sense of cross-platform consistency. Essentially, you’re seeking to magnify your purpose and unify the presence of your brand by finding consistent ways to depict and communicate this.

In terms of online marketing today, bringing a consistent consumer experience from one device to the next is absolutely essential. Before most sales even occur, customers will have made several touch points with your product or service. Your brand strategy needs to account for the fact that a consistent voice, content, message, and service can all be found wherever the consumer journey may go.

It may be that someone doesn’t have a need for your product or service now, but when you can be the solution, then having that brand recognition is what it’s all about!

Stay Flexible

As much as marketers like to believe that a brand strategy is exactly as it should be, maintaining a healthy brand means staying flexible to change. Of course, you’re probably wondering how it’s possible to stay consistent while considering new insights and marketing maneuvers — but it all comes down to balance.

So if you’ve been running targeted ad campaigns that maintain your voice and communicate your message but the results aren’t what they should be, your brand strategy needs to accommodate updates made to itself. This often means finding a good mix of recognition and variation so that your content isn’t confusing to customers while building a stronger presence to reach your goals.

So, what is brand strategy? In the end, developing your brand strategy relies on the key components of recognizing your audience, understanding your purpose in their lives, telling your story as a company, and remaining open to the new opportunities to evolve!

What is brand strategy to you? Let us know in the comments below!

3 Basic Skills for Marketers!

For those who have been at it for a while, marketing can seem like second nature. And even though it’s not always the most natural process out there, there are some distinct skills that the best marketers possess. Maybe you are looking for a way to refresh your approach to marketing or are just getting started, but either way these 3 skills for marketers are not to be ignored!

So you may be thinking, “Connor, you didn’t even study marketing in college — how are you doing this full time?”

Well to put it plainly, I practice a form of dark magic that can convince people to let me get away with anything by reciting cyclical incantations as inscribed inside the Egyptian pyramids.

skills for marketers

Not really.

And then again, marketing is that very process of creating a media experience aimed at influencing real-world decisions, buying decisions, and sentiments… So not entirely different from magic! Truthfully, I learned a lot just by diving into this field and building my knowledge through an internship. With lots of great marketing blogs and resources out there, just about anyone can craft their approach to this field no matter the industry they’re a part of.

Still, these skills for marketers I’ll reveal next are definitely things I consider on a daily basis.

3 Basic Skills for Marketers

1. Pursue Multifaceted Content

While there are negative connotations to the whole idea of being a “jack of all trades, and a master of none,” content that performs well across various types of outlets can be some of your finest marketing assets. At a basic level, it’s going to be about posting new content frequently and consistently, working to build traffic, and find your audience who’s going to keep your momentum going. Sure you can build a site that performs well, but if you aren’t dividing your content up to reach the main social platforms and places where your audience hangs out, you’ll have little to show for it in the end. Truly, this is one of the most important skills for marketers to possess.

skills for marketers

Focus on “evergreen” content, or content that will never lose its relevance or value in the eyes of your audience. While trends change constantly, think about the information you’ll always need to express in order to keep your initiatives alive. This content will always need to provide users with some sort of value, a takeaway point of some kind, or if nothing else, a way to reach your products or services.

2. Learn To Optimize Existing Channels

Whether you’re a business owner yourself or just starting out in an entry-level position, it’s best to get a handle on the current channels through which company information and content is being broadcast. Unfortunately, the previous success of a channel doesn’t always ensure the success of your next initiatives as a marketer, making it important to learn ways you can test these channels for viability.

I won’t go into too much detail here, but there are things you can research further when learning ways to optimize a channel.

• Website Audits — Although sites may look fine on the surface, there are often lots of hidden SEO faux pas lurking below. Reviewing the way a website is structured and its various aspects that are crawled by search engines like Google can help marketers understand how people are interacting with the site and ways to improve its performance.

• Plan Strategies — Reviewing past strategies and their level of success can really help to inform the way that marketers can move forward. Incorporating the objectives and campaigns of other departments or aspects of a business can make for a solid strategy.

• Refine with A/B Testing — Using what’s called A/B testing, marketers can measure how well certain conversion forms are working and whether adjustments can be made.

3. Focus on Customer Relations

We’re truly in the golden age of building customer relationships. Whether it’s through retweets and comments, or direct messages on Facebook it’s easier than ever to interact with your audience. Of course, that means responding to positive and negative feedback in sometimes equal parts. As a general rule, it’s best to respond in a neutral and helpful way, despite what consumers might be expressing.

skills for marketers

Otherwise, people want a connective and better experience each time. Although that’s notoriously hard to deliver for some, it can really help to put yourself in someone’s shoes as they interact with your products or services. How would you want to be reached? What type of things would you appreciate seeing? Become the customer to realize your role as a marketer!

While this is in no way a definitive list you’ll need to know, this should be a good start to breaking into the field of digital marketing. Skill for marketers are constantly evolving and changing with the industry, so do your best to stay up-to-date and forward thinking!

The Best Marketing Traits You Should Look For

Here at Track5Media, we have a pretty tight knit group of marketers. While we may all have different backgrounds (none of us even majored in marketing) and areas of expertise, we’ve still managed to launch successful marketing campaigns as well as provide stellar marketing content for our audience. One of the things I often think about is actually why I was hired. After all, I initially came from a journalism background and picked up a minor in marketing late into my college career. However, the more I worked here and interacted with my team, I began to pick out the various traits that we all shared, and with the help of my marketing team, I think I can give you a few traits you should have as a marketer looking for a job, or a few traits to look for as someone looking to grow your marketing team. Below are just a few of the best marketing traits that a good marketer should have.

The Best Marketing Traits

Persistence

As a marketer, I’ve learned one of the best traits to have is persistence. Not every piece of marketing content is going to go viral. In fact, it’s very rare that your article or video you create will break the Internet. However, staying persistent and creating solid content continuously will steadily grow your following. It might take a few shots before you can hit your target audience, so make sure that you’re looking for someone who won’t get discouraged and is willing to change up tactics if one marketing outlet isn’t working.

Outgoing

I never fancied myself as an outgoing person, but as a marketing professional, I quickly learned how crucial it is to be able to approach someone and make them want to hear what you have to say. Whether it’s through email, phone, or face to face, having a positive and approachable demeanor is one of the best marketing traits to have. The good news is I don’t believe an outgoing personality is innate. People who were originally shy or introverted can learn to be outgoing or extroverted. I’m living proof of that. Even if a candidate seems like she or he is a little timid during the interview process, keep in mind that the potential may still be there, so don’t count out a shy interviewee just yet.

Writing Prowess

I think one of the biggest reasons I was hired despite having little marketing experience was my ability to write. As a marketer, a good portion of your duties will be to produce stellar content. Luckily through my journalism background, I was able to produce content that was both engaging and well written. Over at Track5Media, the majority of our new hires for marketing will be asked to provide writing samples as well as submit a sample blog so we can assess his or her writing skills. Those looking to hire new marketers should greatly consider writing as one the best market traits you should look for. You can often teach someone more about marketing, but it’s a lot more difficult to teach someone how to write well this late into their career.

They “Get” Social Media

You can’t be a marketer without knowing a thing or two about social media marketing, so it’s no surprise that one of the best marketing traits you should look for in a new hire is whether or not they are adept at social media. Marketing via social media is different than your traditional online marketing, so make sure when you’re interviewing candidates, that you ask them about whether or not they are able to market using social media. Have them write sample tweets or Facebook posts to see if they understand how to reach an audience via social media.

Initiative

Finally, one of the best marketing traits is initiative. In an industry that is constantly changing, successful marketing professionals have an initiative that drives them forward. They are constantly one step ahead of Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapshot. It does neither a company nor a marketer any good to sit on their haunches and wait for the big guys to make their moves in this industry. And in most cases, waiting for the big guys to make their moves will not only hurt your brand but probably penalize it in ways that are sometimes hard to correct. No one wants to have their website hit with a huge algorithm and disappear from the search engines, so finding marketers that have this desired trait is exactly what companies should be doing. But, initiative isn’t always easy to come by. It takes research, planning, and a lot of guts (and sometimes failures) to truly be a forward thinker. However, those marketers that manage to have this trait are those that are the most successful.

4 Digital Marketing Misconceptions

Now that the weather is beginning to warm up, it’s time to do some Spring cleaning. No, I’m not talking about tossing out that old letterman jacket from high school, or those Nirvana records you acquired during your “grunge” phase – I’m talking about clearing out those pesky digital marketing misconceptions. You know, the ones that have been stuck in the back of your mind, shaping how you market your brand and company. With a rapidly changing digital marketing landscape, it’s time to finally bust some of these myths that may be holding you and your company back. Here are just a few digital marketing misconceptions to get rid of for good.

4 Digital Marketing Misconceptions

1. Digital Marketing Only Works for Big Companies

Actually, this is not the case at all. In fact, smaller companies can often see improvement over time a lot quicker than bigger brands can. Using Google analytics, you can monitor your marketing efforts and see real-time how your campaign is doing. It’s time to throw out the old way of thinking. It’s time to think big! No matter how big or small your company is, digital marketing can take your brand to the next level. This digital marketing misconception often will hold smaller companies back, but putting the time, money, and effort into a stellar digital marketing campaign can go a long way.

2. SEO Isn’t Important Anymore

Well…that couldn’t be any further from the truth. SEO is one of the biggest, if not the biggest aspect that drives a good digital marketing campaign. If people aren’t seeing your brand on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) then you’re not gaining viewers, and if you’re not gaining viewers, you’re not making money. Just because SEO might be a lot different than it was 10 years ago does not mean that it’s no longer important. In fact, learning how to apply proper SEO tactics are more important than ever before. With more and more domains entering the marketing game, it’s important to know how to set yourself apart from your competitors.

3. Negative Social Media Comments Can Sink My Ship

While it’s generally not a good idea to ignore negative contents, this isn’t necessarily something that will close the doors of your company. Nobody wants negative comments about their business let alone posted on social media where everyone can see them. Such comments could drive away some of your loyal fans and customers. Obviously, you should disable comments or delete any negative comments you get on social media, right? No! Social media is a great way to show transparency and show others that you’re willing to acknowledge and fix any issues. Remaining open and honest when interacting with your audience can create a sense of trust and loyalty with your viewers.

4. Digital Marketing is Expensive

Probably one of the biggest digital marketing misconceptions is that you need a big budget to create a successful digital marketing campaign. Other than some SEO and marketing tools you may want to purchase, creating a successful digital marketing campaign is relatively cheap. Perhaps the only most “expensive” cost you may spend for this is for the hiring of a marketing staff and a website. With the many smart millennials looking for employment today, you can hire a young employee that doesn’t cost too much – yet. Instead, what you really need to invest in is time. It might take a good amount of time before you see results, and many companies will give up simply because they do not see results right away.

Duplicate Content VS Copied Content

Just this past week, Google introduced the new 2017 Google Search Quality Raters Guidelines. Big deal right? We know about SEO and organic search and using keywords, what else is there to know? Actually, there is one piece of key info that has many SEO nerds talking. We finally can tell the difference between duplicate content and copied content. The new guidelines actually fail to even mention the term “duplicate content” and with a little research, we can finally bust the myth of the duplicate content penalty.

Duplicate Content

Prior to these guidelines, it was widely believed that duplicate content was a major red flag when Google was crawling your site. Pages with similar or identical texts were seen as grounds for penalization, so many SEO experts urged users to stay away from duplicate content. However, this put many websites in a strange situation. In some cases, it makes sense to have multiple pages of similar or exact content (think job boards or travel sites). Tweaking a few words just for the sake of avoiding penalty seemed like a very time-consuming task. To add more confusion, Google released a variety of buzzwords like “thin content” and “boilerplate content” that made it even more difficult to pin down a clear definition and guideline.

Copied Content

Similar to duplicate content, copied content is widely known to be a reason to penalize sites. Copied content is any content that is copied from another domain. According to the guidelines, this is considered copied content:

  • Content copied exactly from an identifiable source. Sometimes an entire page is copied, and sometimes just parts of the page are copied. Sometimes multiple pages are copied and then pasted together into a single page. Text that has been copied exactly is usually the easiest type of copied content to identify.
  • Content which is copied, but changed slightly from the original. This type of copying makes it difficult to find the exact matching original source. Sometimes just a few words are changed, or whole sentences are changed, or a “find and replace” modification is made, where one word is replaced with another throughout the text. These types of changes are deliberately done to make it difficult to find the original source of the content. We call this kind of content “copied with minimal alteration.”
  • Content copied from a changing source, such as a search results page or news feed. You often will not be able to find an exact matching original source if it is a copy of “dynamic” content (content which changes frequently). However, we will still consider this to be copied content. Important: The Lowest rating is appropriate if all or almost all of the MC on the page is copied with little or no time, effort, expertise, manual curation, or added value for users. Such pages should be rated Lowest, even if the page assigns credit for the content to another source. (Search Guidelines)

New Guideline

Under the new guideline, as long as your site is the original source of the content, you will be able to have the same content on multiple pages without being penalized. While you still don’t want to have the same content across your entire site, this busts the myths that duplicate content can lead to heavy penalties. For SEO experts, this might finally settle a long-time debate and provide more clarity for all who are engaging in online marketing.

Track5Takes: Our Marketing Love

It’s been a little while since we’ve done a Track5Takes, so I’ll refresh you on the concept. Throughout the week, we come across a variety of interesting subjects dealing with marketing, social media, and technology among other things. Our staff often discusses these articles or videos, with each of us forming our own opinions. We’d like to not only inform you about what’s going on in the web-marketing and technological world, but we want to show a little personality by giving our own “takes” on various issues.

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air here at Track5Media headquarters. No, I’m not talking about a steamy office romance, I’m talking about our love of marketing and all things SEO! We’d much prefer a juicy link over a box of chocolates anyway, so we decided to let everyone know why we love marketing and/or SEO so much.

LOVE MARKETING

 

Abbie Erickson, Marketing Intern

Before starting work as a marketing intern, I have to confess – I had next to no marketing experience. I come from a communications concentration that doesn’t focus heavily on the subject, and my love stands with making graphics and editing video. (But don’t worry I didn’t lie to my boss.)

Since working at Track 5 Media, I’ve learned so much about the world of marketing and I have to say the one thing I’ve really grown is that idea that I get to become a mini-expert on everything I write or post. I didn’t think I’d have fun researching and writing about truck drivers or travel nurses since I am not one of those people nor can I relate to their fields of work.

But researching them to be able to market information to them has been really refreshing for me. I’ve always loved writing, and now I get to do it for other people who actually read my work (sorry college newspaper managers). Being creative “behind the scenes” of what gets posted for viewers only makes me appreciate the work I see when I’m scrolling through Facebook.

Connor Smith, Digital Marketing Specialist

Marketing is something I love because it combines so many aspects of technology, communications, and creativity in one field. We’re lucky here at Track5 because we get to work on some pretty wide-ranging brands and interesting projects, so it takes a lot of shifting from one thing to the next. As a marketer you also get to tell stories, whether it’s through a blog or portraying your products as something unique and valuable — I feel that’s something ingrained in human nature so it’s fun to bring that to a job setting. The concept is also constantly evolving so there’s no time to waste!

Sarah Yoder, Marketing Intern

I’ll start by saying I get bored super easily and can sometimes have the attention span of a goldfish. So, I’d have to say that the one thing I love about marketing is the always-changing nature. While some might find change to be stressful, I thrive on it. I love the challenge of keeping up with the industry and figuring out the new advancements. There are no two days that are the same, so working in marketing never fails to keep my interest.

With change can come uncertainty, but I’ve become rather comfortable with the feeling. The creativeness and problem-solving talents that change and uncertainty can trigger is something I truly value in in life and in this career. As the industry changes, campaigns evolve with it, and we grow as marketers.

There’s always room for improvement and opportunities to progress. A campaign could be going well, but what can you change to make it even better? It can take significant time and effort but make it through the changes to see success can be one of the most rewarding feelings.

Troy Diffenderfer, Digital Marketing Specialist

I think my favorite thing about marketing is the amount of information you can consume. I’m an avid reader, so I’m constantly trying to digest as much info as possible. Luckily, there are numerous blogs that are devoted to covering what’s doing on in the digital marketing and SEO world. From Moz to Backlinko, there are always fellow marketers that are willing to provide tips and trips for marketers.

It’s also interesting that most information is consumed in the form of blogs or web articles. With a landscape that’s ever changing, a published book could become obsolete in a matter of months. Instead, I can kick back and learn about marketing while simultaneously putting those tips and tricks to use. I’ve got a love fever, and the only cure is…..more marketing.

Ekom Enyong, Digital Marketing Specialist

One thing that I absolutely love about marketing is the balance between an analytical and creative mindset. Though I am analytically driven, I am incredibly creative and think outside of the box most of the time.

I think marketing is the perfect activity to find a balance between the left and right brain. It allows me to think big and be creative, while the analytical component allows me to quantify the creative practices.

Predictions for the Top 7 SEO Trends in 2017

This is one of my favorite times of the year. Why? Because as quarter three draws to a close, companies will be looking at their marketing efforts over the past year, and making plans for 2017. As we all get ready to finish out the year, it is important to look at the SEO developments we have witnessed this year so we know where to head for next year. Before you go off making plans to ramp up or scale back on your digital marketing efforts, let’s explore the top SEO trends in 2017.

Exploring Top SEO Trends in 2017

Ask any SEO and they will tell you that the digital marketing landscape is changing almost continuously. Not only are online users constantly changing their web behavior and expectation of their online experience, but Google is also always making algorithm updates. With a large number of online experiences beginning with search, knowing the latest digital marketing practices as well as the top SEO trends in 2017 will help your business survive.

Schema Markup

If you are not already taking advantage of using schema markups, you are doing yourself and your company a disservice. I believe this will be one of the top SEO trends in 2017 as companies search to stand out from, and rank higher than their competitors.

Schema markups make it easier for web browsers to understand the content on your website. Furthermore, schema gives Google the information it needs to be able to display rich snippets or quick answers.

A rich snippet and quick answer screenshot from Google

Examples of a Quick Answer, and a rich snippet.

We’ve all seen various rich snippets while doing a Google search. These may include things like recipes, videos, television show and movie information, reviews, event information and more. Even if you don’t have these kinds of content on your site, you can always add the schema for your business. This would allow Google to show a Knowledge Panel for your business when someone is looking for you on the web.

Google is displaying more and more Quick Answers on the SERP. In December 2014, Google was showing Quick Answers, or Rich Answers, for about 22 percent of queries. By January 2016, these snippets were shown over 40 percent of the time. And don’t forget the rise of voice search because schema markups are going to help Google find the answer to a user’s query on your website. The use of schema helps Google understand the purpose of your site, which will allow you to take advantage of this growing trend.

Coupled with the fact that Google is becoming an Artificial Intelligence monster (which we will explore later), schema is a way for you to prepare your website for what the future of search holds.

Cross-channel Marketing

Now most of us are familiar with multi-channel marketing strategies. Do not confuse these because cross-channel marketing differs slightly. Multi-channel marketing campaigns are run at the same time in different channels, while cross-channel marketing is about integrating a campaign across multiple channels.

It is much more difficult to assimilate the campaigns than to run them individually but marketers need to be prepared to learn how to execute these hybrid campaigns. Gone are the days of running a social media campaign, an email marketing campaign, and a PPC campaign all separately. Instead, you should be engaging your users across every channel and device, while still serving them the same user experience whether they enter your site via organic search, PPC, social media, or any other way.

As one of the top SEO trends in 2017, SEO’s will need to master campaign experimentation methods, like A/B testing for example. They also need to be able to make changes to the campaign based on insight gathered from campaign analytics.

Google SERP Changes

This year we have seen Google trying out some changes to the SERP. Search results are no longer the simple page containing ten links. There are rich snippets, knowledge panels, social posts, and ads galore! In an attempt to create the best user experience, Google has been experimenting with some changes to the results page.

We saw Google experiment with a longer left-container width, resulting in longer page titles. This was a 17 percent increase from 512px to 600px. We have also seen Google breaking titles at whole words rather than breaking at whatever cutoff point in the title. Another thing we have seen is Google testing adding brand names to the ends of the title on the SERP.

Google has eliminated the right-hand column of ads, moving them to the bottom of the page, and added AMP articles on the top of mobile search pages. What do all of these changes mean? There is less organic real estate for the taking. Companies will have to be more competitive than ever before to rank.

The challenge here is that Google has not rolled out these changes for all sites or users, nor have they announced that these will be permanent changes. Until Google can decide what changes will remain, the best thing SEOs can do is to continue using your focal keywords near the beginning of your title, and inserting them in your meta description. If you are a company that has received the extra pixels, take advantage of the extra characters.

The Decrease of Organic Social Media ROI

In June of this year, Facebook announced a major algorithm change that will greatly affect marketers and publishers: they will be reducing the organic reach of businesses and publishers. I think this definitely will be one of the top SEO trends in 2017 because it will be a major blow to publishers who receive 40 percent of their traffic from Facebook alone. And with Facebook being the social media leader, you can fully expect that the other social sites will follow suit soon.

SEO trends in 2017

Expect social media organic reach and ROI to decrease as the cost of paid social ads rises.

This is being done in favor of the individual user experience. Facebook fears that users are not able to connect with friends and family because of all the publisher and business content, so the social giant will now be prioritizing posts shared by friends and family members.

How is this going to affect your digital marketing strategy? Publishers and business can expect to see their organic reach and ROI decline. Publishers can expect to not only utilize more social paid ads but also pay more for these ads. As more companies fight to get their content in front of users, with a limited number of ad spots, costs will rise.

The Beginning of the End of Traditional Websites

Since the introduction of modern smartphones nearly a decade ago, users prefer an app-based experience more and more. This means that in a matter of years, perhaps 5 to 10, we can expect to see the end of websites as we know them now.

Google is pushing this trend by providing search features for apps and app users with their App Streaming. Basically, Google will show you what you’re looking for within an app, but you aren’t required to download the app. This allows you to seamlessly move between apps and the web. While this isn’t yet ready to be rolled out to the masses, you can surely expect that other marketing will be jumping on the app streaming bandwagon.

How can SEOs make sure their companies take advantage of this trend? Create an app that can deliver content from your website. Get yourself ahead of the game so that when app streaming goes mainstream, you are already prepared to integrate it into your marketing campaigns.

Google: The Self-Updating AI Behemoth

For starters, just 6 days ago, Google announced that Penguin is now a part of their core algorithm. Not only that, but it is now real-time, meaning changes you make to you site to rank better will be visible faster than in the past. You no longer have to wait for the next Penguin refresh to see ranking changes.

Last year, Google also released RankBrain, which is a machine-learning AI system as part of its algorithm. It will help to interpret the intent and meaning of search queries so that it can find relevant web pages that don’t necessarily have the exact words searched. RankBrain is now the third-most important single signal for ranking web pages.

Google is starting on this self-updating AI journey, so you should expect that it could only mean that the data giant has much larger plans still yet to come. What does this mean for SEOs? It will be absolutely critical that you follow best SEO practices and avoid any type of Black Hat SEO tactics.

We are no longer going to see companies using suspect SEO methods and be rewarded with higher rankings until Google’s next update. I predict it’s only a matter of time until Google will be able to detect faulty practices and punish website in real-time.

Mobile, Speed, and AMP

I think that utilizing Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) will definitely be one of the most important top SEO trends in 2017.

Google Mobile search Amp Logo

Note the lightning bolt icon that shows users that there is an AMP article available.

This month, Google rolled out AMP globally. These articles speed up load time by taking away all the extras on a website. With the ever-growing emphasis on mobile, expect to see the use of AMP surge in 2017.

While Google has said this will not affect rankings, these articles do appear before all organic listings on mobile. This means that if your AMP article appears, you are essentially ranking at position zero on the SERP. As users get more and more fed up with publisher ads and poor web experiences, they will be reading more AMP articles. For digital marketers wanting an edge, now is the perfect time to implement the use of AMP articles.

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When you’re going into your marketing planning meetings as you gear for next year, keep these trends in mind. If you pay attention to these top SEO trends in 2017, you will put yourself in a prime position to have a successful year in digital marketing. As the digital marketing landscape continues to shift and change, be sure that you are taking steps to future-proof your online presence.

What trends will you be keeping an eye on in 2017? What steps are you taking to make sure you can benefit from the changing digital marketing landscape?

2014’s Coolest Content Marketing

It’s getting increasingly difficult to target audiences with advertisements. DVR skips the commercials or viewers forgo TV all together for ad-less Netflix, magazine ads get flipped fast, and we’re so desensitized to banner ads that we barely notice them anymore.