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Join me as I take a look at the trends in content marketing so far this year and look forward at what 2013 holds for the rapidly changing digital landscape.
If you’re reading this, then well done, you successfully survived what was yet another falsely prophesised, apocalyptic, end-of-the-world situation and saw in the New Year. It’s now a month since the world was expected to end, yet luckily, just like every other doomsday prophecy, the end of the Mayan Calendar failed to deliver on the dark promises attached to it. December 21st came and went without any real signs of Armageddon. Seeing as the Earth’s still spinning, and isn’t really showing any obvious signs of stopping anytime soon, let’s take a look over the digital trends that have begun to emerge as the New Year blossoms.
Facebook’s big reveal
Early in January Facebook built up a whole load of buzz around a big reveal they had planned. Many were expecting Facebook to launch their own mobile, due to their most recent other update allowing free voicemail messages and free VoIP calls (in Canada at least). But no, it wasn’t a phone, and it wasn’t a complete site overhaul to compete with the newly re-launched MySpace (which is actually a lot better than expected, unlike the Timberlake’s new track that got released alongside it, but I digress). Instead Facebook unveiled a whole new search feature, entitled Graph Search (which presumably resembles a traditional graph as much as Google’s Knowledge Graph does).
Facebook are essentially attempting to make searching the web as social as possible, with the open graph search pooling together all the knowledge of everyone you know and allowing you to see results queries based on what people have said. At its heart it’s a word of mouth search engine. Still not seeing how this may be beneficial for SEO purposes?
As long as your Facebook profile contains the correct contact info and is regularly updated with exciting content then there’s a whole wealth of opportunity here. People will be able to search for a restaurant, discover opening times and read a friend’s review on the experience. The more ‘likes’ and positive comments said about your business the better, as your online popularity will aid you in appearing more prominently in the personalised search results.
This also means you should be driving your offline visitors online. Encourage them to ‘check in’ and tag all their friends at your location, if they say something great about it while they’re there, then even better. It’ll be really interesting to see the impact Graph Search has on the ever changing face of search engines.
Oh and just in case you hadn’t already, it looks like you’ll have to start optimising for Bing as well as Google, because if Facebook’s new Graph Search can’t find you the results to a specific query then it will turn to the Microsoft-owned search engine. This is all part of an ongoing partnership with the two, which could really start to pay dividends in 2013.
Hey Mobile, go big or go home.
Congratulations to the tablets. Led by Apple’s ever popular iPad, the sales figures of tablets have seen a massive surge over the last year; so much so that according to the Flurry Analytics site more tablets were activated than phones worldwide this Christmas. The ability to browse online anytime and anywhere has proven incredibly popular with the masses, with netbooks being too large and mobiles too small, these touchscreen alternatives appear to be supplying the demand.
It seems even tablets aren’t safe from themselves however, as people are slowly adjusting to finding the perfect size to use. It appears that bigger isn’t always better, as smaller 7 inch models are gaining in popularity rapidly. The iPad mini actually managed to outsell its larger original last month, and the Nexus 7 is similarly receiving rave reviews.
What does this mean for SEO and content marketing? Well, for one thing people, will be using tablets to browse sites whilst on the go, so make sure you’ve got a local search strategy. If someone’s walking past your bakery on their phone (possibly using the new Facebook Graph Search) looking for somewhere to eat make sure they know you’re there. Get on Google Plus Local; tag your business’s location on Facebook and please, I beg of you, have your contact address on your site so that everybody, including Google, knows where to find you.
If site owners haven’t already optimised their pages for mobile browsing then to be honest they’re seriously lagging behind. I’m not just talking about perfecting the layout and making your site scalable on all devices either. The way people navigate and absorb information on the web is changing to mould itself around the busy lifestyles we lead in the form of responsive design. Content on mobile devices and tablets should be short and sweet, yet still retain its informative properties. Adopt a twitter-esque structure, in the sense that if you can’t tell readers the story in a few short sentences then you seriously need to re-think how you present your content.
Zombies are out, Robots are in!
Zombies feel so 2012, this year it’s all about robots. Technology is advancing in leaps and bounds, and whilst the Roomba whizzing round your floor may look cute today, we all know it’s only a matter of time before it’s demanding we bow down to our new sentient, mechanical masters. Ok so maybe there’s some slight (read: a lot of) hyperbole there, but robots are seriously the next big thing.
Just look at some of the films being released this year: Pacific Rim involves people donning giant Robot suits to do battle with evil titan-like monsters and Robocop, well that’ll be a remake of a beloved classic, so I’ll let you decide whether that’s exciting or not. It’s not just about what’s going on in cinemas though, keeping up to date with the latest trends and hot topics is vital to staying on top of digital marketing. Being able to write content that feels constantly fresh and engaging is a difficult yet rewarding task, so knowing what’s hot can help content marketers find new ways to create content that resonates well with the public. Plus it’s not only the mechanical robots that’ll be popular this year, as hopefully this’ll be the year that everyone learns how to properly utilise the Robots.txt file when building their site.
With the rise of the Author Tag increasing accountability, hopefully site builders will start optimising their Robots.txt properly, so that Google’s spiders know exactly which pages they need to crawl and can index the sites successfully. Too many sites have pages filled with useless content, such as automatically generated search pages or old item pages that are no longer applicable being indexed by Google and thus being visible to the world.
There are also problems at the other end of the spectrum though, if people are unsure on how to properly utilise Robots.txt, and use it too much or write it the wrong way, they could find search engines miss some important pages. It’s well worth getting to know your way around the Robots.txt file, because not only will it help Google’s spiders crawl your site easier, but it will also ensure that Google only index the important content from your site, so that people only see what you want them to.
The worldwide rise of real-time marketing
If you read my last article you know that I come from a background in Advertising. Whilst studying how to create campaigns, we followed the rather rigid structure along the lines of 3 ads for print, 1 for TV and some sort of web banner or digital advert if we were lucky. Campaigns have been around for years, they are a successfully tried and tested method of selling products, but they also evolve and adapt with time.
When TV was introduced, motion picture adverts were filmed. When the internet came into play so did banners, and now social media is here to stay, well we’re still in the process of seeing brands and advertisers perfecting their methods for this medium. The thing is, advertising campaigns have a strict time-structure to adhere to, yet they take a long time to produce and present to the public; what with information traveling so fast nowadays, advertising campaigns can sometimes miss their audience, and can feel short lived.
This is where the beauty of social media becomes apparent. Here you have a way in which brands and the public can interact with each other, in real-time. Top brands have already begun utilising the more popular social media platforms in order to carry out conversations with their visitors, not just supplying better customer service but also giving the brand a positive personality. This is where quality content writing will become key.
As we get further into 2013, more and more brands will want to address their customers and wider audience on a more personal level, thus the need for content that can be written like a real person. Gone will be the days of keyword-riddled content that only Google can read, and in its place will be actual conversations held by the consumer and the brand. Some of the best examples of this are Old Spice and O2, two big brands who realised that interacting with consumers at an accessible level is the way to gain popularity.
With advertising methods like this being widely utilised by more and more brands, we’ll be sure to see brands develop smarter, more thorough personalities and marketing techniques through their social media profiles in 2013.
Viva la content
2013 is shaping up to truly be the year that Content will reign supreme as King, as Google pushes the fact that it’s vital to produce high-quality goods if you want your site to rank highly. I’ll be the first to admit that Google are ever-so-slightly fickle, in the sense that their updates mysteriously change more than Lady GaGa’s outfit at an awards ceremony, and no one is ever quite sure of how to properly master the system. However their Webmaster Guidelines have always been clear, and even they point out that content needs to contain “plenty of rich information”.
Google’s push of the authorship tag is also a massive plus point for content writers everywhere, as now the work you do will have information about you next to it. Making people responsible for what they write is a sure-fire way to stir them into writing content that’s actually beneficial to the reader. Of course not everyone will want to utilise the authorship tag, but if Google start ranking those who have it higher than those who don’t, you can bet that everyone will jump on board the authorship wagon. With better quality content needed for SEO, you can be sure that you’ll see an even stronger relationship build between PR and Content marketing in 2013, as both industries have so much to offer each other. To read more on this then have a mosey on over here where fellow Koozai member James Perrin discusses it in a little more detail.
Unwrapping a New Year from BigStock
White Robot from BigStock
For a long time, Bing, the UK’s second-largest search engine, has been underappreciated and, in some instances, even ignored. Often regarded as the inferior search engine to market leader Google, Bing has historically struggled to appeal to many in the digital world. Most PPC analysts would give justified reasons for neglecting Bing for so long; these include the volume of traffic and the user experience just not matching up to Google. However, the validity of these assessments is now diminishing. Bing has grown and improved rapidly in the last couple of years; if you are not integrating it into your comprehensive digital marketing plan, you run the risk of missing out on a large portion of your chosen market and significant revenue.
When it comes to building a content marketing campaign, it can be difficult to know where to start. You may have an initial idea but bringing it to life and getting your message seen are always harder than initially thought.