Instagram has taken the social media world by storm, with growth rates soaring and expected ad revenue of 2.81 billion by 2017. The platform started as a way for users to share photos of their everyday lives and has turned into so much more.

Instagram is defined as “an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them either publicly or privately on the app, as well as through a variety of other social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr.” With over 400 million users posting 80 million posts per day, this platform is nothing but a giant opportunity for brands to reach their ideal customer.

Just like any other social media platform, figuring out how to best utilize Instagram for your business can be tricky. Here are some tips to help get you started and turn your Instagram goals into a reality.

What Works Well on Instagram

Instagram is a great platform to showcase the human side of your brand. It works best to show the value your products and services bring to your customers and showcase the many people that work hard to bring your company to life.

Posts that Work Well:

Opportunities for Businesses:

Getting Your Business Started on Instagram

Setting Up Your Account

First, choose an account name that is easily tied to your business. Make sure this name is short and easy to remember.

Next you need to upload a profile picture. Your company logo will work best so your followers recognize the brand.

Then, you need a short description about your business and a destination URL, which should link followers to your website.

It is important to note that traffic from Instagram does not track in google analytics. Since the traffic mainly comes from mobile devices, when a follower clicks on this link they are shown a “view in web browser” box that pops up. When they click this box, the origin data is stripped and you lose the ability to track the traffic from Instagram.

To get around this, create a version of your URL with UTM parameters that create a new campaign for Instagram traffic. You’ll end up with a big, long, ugly link. We turn this link into a bitly to make it a little neater and then use that as the profile link.

Decide on a Look and Feel for Your Instagram Account

Before you start posting on Instagram, you need to decide on a look and feel for your account. Draw from your company’s brand guidelines, and establish a filter/editing style that you like as well as typography usage, and a photography style.

Then, create a brand hashtag to tie all your posts together. This also gives your followers a hashtag to use when talking about your brand.

Lastly, decide on a posting schedule. Do #throwbackthursdays or #tacotuesdays work well for your brand? If so, start by building those posts into your schedule and work around it. Aim to post at least three times per week in the beginning, varying the time of day to see when your followers engage the most.

Determine the Goals of Your Account

It will be impossible to measure the success of your account if you don’t set goals. The goal of your account will also determine the type of content you create and what additional tools you’ll need. The goals I’ll talk about reaching are:

Using Instagram for Brand Awareness

When trying to reach new customers and raise awareness for your brand, Instagram can be a great platform. The best types of posts are:

If you have a budget, Instagram advertising can also be used to get your posts in front of a new audience. Mass awareness, clicks to website, page post engagement, reach and frequency, and video views are all great advertising methods to use.

Kate Spade influencer marketing example

Kate Spade (@katespadeny) often sends products to key influencers. Both the influencers and Kate Spade share the photos on Instagram to bring awareness to the brand and the products.

Using Instagram for Generating Sales and Leads

When trying to generate sales and leads from Instagram, the best types of posts can be:

There are also Instagram ads for website conversions, mobile app engagement, and mobile app installs that could help you reach your goals, depending on your product.

Flash Sales

Many companies, like Emily Ley (@emilyley) will hold “Flash Sales” where they release coupon codes for certain items on their site, exclusively on Instagram. This makes your Instagram following feel special as they have an opportunity other customers don’t have.

Using Instagram for Recruitment

Instagram is a great platform to show off your company culture, give followers a behind the scenes peak of your product or service, and recruit new talent. By posting employee centric posts, “behind the brand” posts, or using mass awareness Instagram advertising, you will showcase the sides of your brand that people don’t necessarily get to see, but make your company unique.

the skimm company culture on instagram

The Skimm‘s Instagram account (@theskimm) has a very unique style when it comes to showing off their company culture. The news source keeps things light while showing off their team building activities, office lunches, and much more.

Growing Your Account

There are two ways to grow your account, organically or with paid ads.

Growing Your Account Organically

Growing Your Account with Instagram Advertising

Each method has its benefits. Organic growth gains your followers who are essentially hand selected by you, suggested by your followers, and who are true brand enthusiasts. Paid growth comes from being in front of more people, who may or may not be interested in your content. These followers may not be as loyal at first, but hopefully by providing them with great content, you can turn them into customers.

Overall, Instagram is a great platform for marketers to utilize. There are so many opportunities to let your brand shine and attract new customers.

Need help getting your company’s Instagram account up and running? Let us know! Our social media experts are well versed in turning Instagram dreams into reality.

The days of organic reach on Facebook are long gone and hard to find. Today, you can only reach 1-2% of your community organically now if you’re (very) lucky. So just like any promotional medium you have to pay for exposure (reach).

Reaching Your Ideal Customer Through Highly Targeted Boosted Posts

However, before you promote that kick ass content or push some new products, your community must be viable and targeted. You need to have the “right” people engaging with your brand, so a “like” campaign is a great first step to build a targeted community.

Facebook’s targeting allows you to get laser focused on exactly the audience your business needs. You have the ability to target people based on age, location, gender, etc, but the opportunity to target based on user interests is the true X-factor.

You can get super granular with interests based on shopping and family/relationships, the drill downs are endless.

Targeting Screenshot

For a client in the plush toys and collectible space, we were able to acquire 2,880 new qualified fans for as little as $.40/like over the course of 26 days.

This client is based oversees, and has a huge international fab base. Their Facebook Page was previously perceived as the international fan page rather than a US brand page, which posed a huge challenge, since you can’t purchase products from our clients site from oversees. We were seeing a lot of engagement from brand lovers who could never purchase from us. The second side of that issue is that we weren’t seeing a lot of engagement from potential US customers. This brand had practically no brand recognition to US customers.

To fix these issues, we pinned a blog post that showcased the high quality and superb workmanship that goes into each toy and collectible, that way when a new visitor visited the page, they were greeted with a brand overview. We also boosted this post on facebook, targeting US customers only along with several other factors.

So now a more qualified and educated foundation has been set to market to people who are actually interested in their products! Who would have thunk it?!

Use Video to Capture Your Audience

The next step is to promote your products/services to the community that you have built through trust with value add content (blog posts and third party aggregation). Remember your Facebook community is not a place to boast how great you think you are, it’s a breeding ground to create passion fans/influencers. It’s all about peer to peer recommendations and social word of mouth.

For a client in the self-publishing space, we ran a campaign promoting book kits for children during the holiday shopping season. We included fun/informative videos that described what each kit consists of and how your child can tap his/her creative side.

The ads were so successful that the client extended the program. These stats show the true ROI of their investment”

ROI stats for Facebook

investment ROI 2

The great thing about video advertising on Facebook is that they provide with very informative drill down stats:

Video drilldown stats 1

Video drilldown stats 2

This information is invaluable when determining what needs to be tweaked with a video. If people are dropping off too quickly, the product/content/message Is probably not resonating with viewer. If the visitor watches the video in its entirety, they would be more enticed to purchase your product/service.

So in summation,   But it is more than just throwing money at something and hoping it sticks. It takes strategy, great effort and of course a budget to build a community, nurture it and create content that builds trust.

If you fail at any of these aspects, your efforts will fall on deaf, uncaring ears and you become more white noise in an already cluttered social media universe.

Do you need help reaching the right audience on social media? Contact Wakefly today! Our social media experts will figure out the best way to reach your customers so you can be successful on social media!

Determining social media ROI is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle.  Social media marketing is not as clear cut as organic or paid. Sure you can contribute revenue to advertising done through social media, but there is no clear way to determine how the time you spend building a fan base and generating brand awareness contributes to your bottom line.

We need to look more at attribution than ROI. Mark Shively of Simply Measured hits the nail right on the head:

“Social media is a marketing function. Whether it feeds top-of-the-funnel brand awareness, mid-funnel conversions, or customer satisfaction and lifetime value, we can’t talk about Social ROI until we address the Social Attribution problem. For the most part, social marketers are missing a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to attributing traffic, conversions, and sales to social media, because we can’t see exactly where a lot of traffic actually came from.”

When I explain the purpose behind social media marketing, I adamantly stress the 3 C’s. When you build a community, you are building a following of individuals that trust you and your brand. That trust is earned by listening to your followers’ problems and providing informative, engaging content to help them formulate solutions.

But how do report the “success” in terms of ROI of this community? Social Media marketing falls in the same ROI dark abyss as print advertising did back in the day. You really didn’t know who saw your ad, unless you had a dedicated phone number or the prospect actually mentioned they saw your advert. Same thing goes for social media because it may not get credit for it’s efforts.

What you can track is how many times an article was shared, especially when that article includes a UTM parameter. This brings “dark social” to the light!

Dark Social is traffic generated by the sharing of a URL that was discovered on social media but gets attributed to the “direct” channel on Google Analytics. Over 70% of social shares are considered dark, so we need to start appending UTM parameters to the share buttons on our articles to track URL’s and give social media the credit it deserves.

Social Metrics Map

When trying to track conversions from social media, this can solve a lot of your issues, however, it does not cover links shared through chat or email. So until we can corral all the traffic/leads generated by social media, marketers can never provide a “true” return on investment.

So most of the traditional or event marketers out there are calling BS on the title, but in the next couple paragraphs I want to talk you through why I believe the ROI in trade shows comes mostly from the digital marketing surrounding participation.  I also want to do a little bragging about how a relatively young digital marketing agency (ahem) is winning awards amongst brands like Dell, Education Dynamics, Danaher Corporation and Canon, so please forgive me if I am a little proud of my team.

The truth about modern trade shows and conferences is that a lot of the people who attend are influencers who are not really focused on business as much as the break they are getting from their day job to attend. This makes what you do before, during, and after the show the best opportunity for you to make these shows a success.

The attribution and versatility of Digital Media gives you the best opportunity to collect data necessary to prove the impact, engagement and market penetration to those who hold you accountable to the spend to get you and your team there (or create the opportunity to go back).

What To Do Before the Event

You need to leverage the contract and the exposure of the event as much as possible. Be sure to consider the normal provisions such as signage, space, and inclusion in promotional materials, but also look for the link to your site from every digital implementation of your logo. Look for inclusion opportunities in the social media blasts and look for the opportunities to present with objective and data-supported content.

Develop a Social Media strategy that includes a Hashtag for Twitter, a series of sneak peeks for Facebook and LinkedIn, and even a series of preparatory images to leverage on Snapchat, Instagram and other visual platforms.

Be sure the elements are specific to your company according to the event, and use it as a reciprocal with others who will be attending. Reach out via social media to large and small brands as well as the venue and organizer to build interest, but also to arrange meetings and introductions at the conference. I can tell you that this is as good of a strategy for prospecting for clients as it is to prospect for talent, so leverage your LinkedIn prospecting skills to arrange for the best use of your time on both fronts.

With my team, we showcased our talented marketers and our skilled developers by working with a new video racing game. We had teams from both sides of our company work together to develop a custom skin for the race car that co-branded the event coordinator, the event logo and our logo. The idea of using the digital aspect of the video game to get the interest and then also using the competitive nature of playing the game to create a competitive environment takes the pressure off of the pitch and places the focus on our logo and branding with the opportunity to allow visitors to ask us questions.

It’s more comfortable for everyone, but it also creates an opportunity for digital asset creation that supports the multiple stages of the total campaign.

What To Do While You’re There

Take advantage of the exhibitor time to reign in the buzz on Social Media with visual expose of setup, tweet about the excitement that is building and mention the people you are looking forward to meeting (including the keynotes and presentations you will attend), and also be sure to make connections with other exhibitors to allow them to share their leads that will be mutually beneficial as you do the same.

Once the event begins, become the PR and paparazzi on social media that shares the attendees, any updates on your contests, and those keynotes that are making statements that should be shared.  Real Time Marketing can be a challenge, but it is the one way you can bring the insider info to the masses in advance of any wrap-up after the event is over.

It is also a key way to create engagement and authority with those who are truly interested in the space or are presenting.  With the race car example, we live tweeted updates on the leaderboard, and actually elevated one of our booth visitors who held the top spot all day on our first day to a topic of discussion at the evening party.

The famous “Lee G.” shared with us the next day that others at the bash were coming up to him to talk about his score on the game and even foster competition in trying to unseat him the following day.  When you are the topic of conversations like this, you build up the attendees experience, you build your brand and you become more valuable as an attendee for the event coordinators.  The benefits just keep coming.

What To Do Afterwards

Make sure to leverage social media to thank the venue, presenters, and event coordinators for a great event.  Wrap up the theme for your booth.  If you had a presentation, offer the wrap-up for download.

If you collected information on attendees, be sure to send the appropriate follow-up emails to the various categories of people for whom you have information. If you had a meaningful conversation with someone you encountered, make your follow up genuine and personal.  No one likes to be mass marketed, so if they engaged with you, you owe it to them to be timely, genuine and personal.

If they visited your booth or attended your presentation, allow them to engage with you by receiving more of your content (RSS Blog subscription, Newsletter sign-up, whatever) until they are ready for you to engage with them again. If they were an attendee, but didn’t get a chance to meet you, recognize this is still a cold call and you should reach out appropriately. Maybe recognize that you missed each other at the event, offer a quick overview of what may be of interest to them and get them to your site to investigate.  At that point they can lead the nurturing next steps.

As you can see above, the attendance and chachkies are nowhere near the requirement to make an event successful, but if the digital marketing surrounds what you do at the event appropriately, the event becomes more than just airfare and handshakes.

Sign up for a video recap of our c3 breakout session

Last Wednesday’s lunch hour was spend on #BufferChat, talking to marketing professionals about social selling. That chat focused on what social selling is, how it works and how can you be successful at it. If you couldn’t make the chat last week, then you’re in luck! We made a recap that highlights all of our favorite insights.

#BufferChat is a great place to go for advice, or idea sharing. The chat welcomes anyone and everyone to stop by every Wednesday at 12PM EST.

We’d like to offer a big thanks to Buffer hosting another great chat. As always we at Wakefly are glad to help out with your digital marketing needs.

Reddit is an immensely popular social media site, ranking #10 in the US traffic (according to Alexa). Reddit provides funny, helpful, and informative content to a unique, passionate set of user personalities.

Reddit is considered to have a complete culture of its own. Reddit users aka “Redditors” have a complete democracy of their website’s content. By utilizing a user-based vote system, the community decides what is popular and what is not. Users can then decide further topics that should be discussed by separating their website into individual niches called sub-reddits.

The website’s users have a habit of weeding out bad content and making sure the best content rises to the top. Unlike Facebook and Twitter where you see all content from all friends and followers and your wall or feed, Reddititors will most likely only see the best content from the subreddits they subscribe to on their feed.

Reaching out to a unique and focused set of users is a marketer’s dream. To be successful in doing so, you must first understand the culture of Reddit.

1. Understand the Culture of your Audience on Reddit

The first part of understanding your audience is finding your niche. As said before, content on Reddit is organized into sections called “subreddits”, each with its own unique rules and followers. The overview of each subreddit can be viewed on the right hand side. It will go over information like the subreddit’s rules, amount of subscribers, and users currently online.

Once you have read through the rules section, read through a few of the posts on the “hot” section. It’s important to understand the information a particular subreddit is focused on. The comment section perfectly encapsulates the humor and discussion style of Reddit. Comments that are not constructive and lack in content such as “Great post!” are voted down, whereas jokes and well formulated opinions are voted up.

2. Post engaging Content

After understanding the culture of the subreddit you appeal to, the next step is to create engaging content your audience will enjoy. There are many strategies to create content based on what is already popular. It is considered a best practice to keep creating content that you think is quality, the only risk is the possibility that your post is voted down or not voted on at all.

It is also suggested that submitted content between 9am and 1pm EST is ideal. This study has its variables and many will argue that it is entirely random. Personally I believe it comes down to each individual subreddit’s user base and a little bit of luck.

3. Analyze the Results

After your first post, be sure to record the time of day for future analysis. The more data the better, so be sure to monitor the results. The main tool of analysis is custom social metrics:

Custom Social Metrics – Record brand perception in a notebook, word document, or excel spreadsheet. As a lot of data analysis is subjective, this tool can prove to be more valuable in the case of understanding Reddit’s unique demographics.

Understanding the vastness that is Reddit is a daunting task. The best way to learn from scratch is to identify the culture, post based on your perceptions, and learn from your results. By following these steps, you can create a completely different style of marketing campaign for your content.

As social media platforms continue to grow and evolve, the best feature they have added from a marketing standpoint is the ability to advertise on the platform. Facebook has multiple different advertising options, twitter has an option to promote tweets or hashtags, and Pinterest has promoted pins and now buyable pins. The last major social media platform to jump on the bandwagon is Instagram.

Despite being a relatively new platform, according to a recent article by SproutSocial Instagram has over 300 million active users monthly, generating close to 70 million photos per day. The potential to reach the right customer is there, especially when you consider that Instagram generates 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter.

So why aren’t all marketers running to Instagram? There is no way for a user to make a direct purchase from the platform. For a user to end up on your website, they have to read the description, decide that they like what they see, click on your profile, click the link in your bio to be taken to your website, and then seek out whatever product or service you were directing them too in the post – more steps than most will follow.

Instagram has teased advertising options, but for the foreseeable future, obtaining this ad space is invitation only. So how do I get a follower to make a purchase based on something they’ve seen on Instagram? Insert Like2Buy.

Like2Buy

Like2Buy is a platform by Curalate that allows your Instagram followers to make a purchase in two clicks. The platform builds a landing page that displays all of your Instagram posts, then links the post photo directly to the product, service, or event you want users to engage with.

My favorite example is Martha Stewart’s Instagram page. Utilizing Like2Buy, the link in their Instagram bio is instagram.com/marthastewart. When I see a recipe, product or event posted that I want to learn more about, I simply click the link and I am taken to a page that grids all their most recent Instagram posts.

From there, I just find the picture I wanted to learn more about, click it, and I am taken directly to the article/page with more information. These landing pages are laid out just like Pinterest, which always prompts me to click on other pictures and read more articles.

Instagram users who signed up for Like2Buy will have a personal “my likes” page that pulls all eligible Instagram posts they have “liked” into one place (kind of like a Pinterest board for all your favorite Instagrams).

The platform is about a year old now and has been growing like crazy. According to Business2Community, “while the returns on this platform are still being measured, the CEO and Co-Founder of Curalate reports an 80% increase in click-through rate from the Like2Buy page to product pages, when compared to a regular link”. If you manage the Instagram account for an eCommerce company this is a great option to increase sales through Instagram!

The only downside to Like2Buy is that it still requires a user to click on the link in your bio. That being said, the best way to increase Instagram conversion rates is to make sure you are posting engaging content that resonates with your followers. So try adding Like2Buy to your account while you follow Instagram best practices! If you need help, contact Wakefly, we would be happy to walk you through the process.

Aside from the powerhouse ‘usuals’ of social media promotion (Facebook and Twitter) have you considered, or been considering, monetizing your company’s Pinterest account?  If so, now is the time to jump in! Pinterest is making some big changes surrounding promoted pins, making them more useful and more actionable.  While you can already boost up your own e-commerce pins within search results and category feeds, according to Business Insider “users will soon be able to instantly add all the items from a cooking recipe straight to a shopping cart, or add a gadget straight to their Amazon Wish List.”

Pinterest has a large effect on what consumers do after they’ve viewed a pin.  In more relatable terms, this is just like attributing a view-through conversion within traditional display advertising.  Business Insider also goes on to point out just how large the reach of Pinterest’s “view-through” sales really are (according to data from a Pinterest-commissioned Millward Brown survey):

Pinterest Advertising Bar Graph

Pinterest also continues to grow by leaps and bounds over every other platform in terms of user base so you want to make sure that you are capitalizing on a potentially new set of consumers:

pinterest bar graph two

As of right now, Buyable Pins are still in beta and only available to few business accounts in the United States.  However, that doesn’t mean that it’s too early to being crafting a strategy!  You will want to be ready to go when Pinterest says go.

Looking for the best place to start? Start with a Promoted Pin.

So what exactly is a Promoted Pin anyway?

Simply put, this is a paid ad on Pinterest.  Much like Facebook ads, these are run on a CPC basis where you have control over daily budget and duration, as well as the fact that you only pay when someone clicks through the pin to your website.

As with any paid ad, promoted pins help companies promote a certain content when you have a promotion, event or special item that you want to draw attention to.  Unlike traditional ads, you cannot use calls to action, pricing information, or actual promotional information within the promoted pin.

pinterest meme

Make sure you start thinking about your strategy and potential pins that you’d want to promote!  Also consider the budget you’re able to allocate.

For help getting started with promoted pins, contact Wakefly to see how we can help you manage your new campaign!

Consider Which Platform is Best for Your Social Media Strategy

When used correctly, social media is a powerful marketing tool for your company.  You should not take a one-size-fits all approach in crafting your social media strategy. Consider your industry, your audience, and the message that you are trying to share. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are the biggest players in social media, but you may want to consider making use of other platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn or Google+ to reach the maximum amount of users. Below we will discuss some of the best ways to leverage social content for your business.

Facebook

Facebook still has the largest user base of all of the social media sites, with over a billion monthly users worldwide. However, just because someone uses Facebook doesn’t mean that they will see your posts. In order for your Facebook page to be effective, you should be posting content on at least a daily basis. If you are a B2C business and aren’t using Facebook, you are missing out on an important opportunity to engage with your customers and prospects. It’s important that you post interesting content and don’t just try to push your products and services. HubSpot recommends following the “80/20 rule,” which states that 80% of your posts should be social (but still pertain to your industry or audience) and 20% should be about your products and services. Avoid lengthy posts and just posting links to third party articles. You are more likely to get someone to engage through the use of videos or asking interesting open-ended questions. Always respond to a user’s post within 24 hours. Many customers turn to social media when they have a problem with a business’s products or services and how you handle their complaints in this public forum can make or break your reputation.

Twitter

While Facebook creates more of an online community for your business, Twitter is a quick hit and best used for things like event promotion and announcing news. Many people follow brands on Twitter and hashtags are a great way to build your brand. You can create a hashtag for items that may be commonly searched by your customers or use them for promotion. You should never use more than 2 hashtags in a single tweet or it will dilute your message. Twitter is also a great place to show off your expertise and position yourself as a thought-leader. If you have an active company Twitter account, include a Twitter feed on your website to cross-promote and keep your users up to date on all of the latest information at-a-glance.

YouTube

Video content is more important than ever, but YouTube usage should be considered carefully because of its SEO impact. When you host all of your videos on YouTube, YouTube is getting credit for the content. YouTube should be used to supplement your brand but don’t expect that adding a bunch of videos on YouTube will drive traffic to your site. Consider alternatives like Wistia that can provide you with SEO friendly embeded code so that the video content on your website will be searchable and bring users directly to your site instead of a third party hosting site. Keep your videos to three minutes or less in length as a best practice so that users don’t bail mid-video. Video content should be geared towards your current and prospective customers. Provide helpful tips or give a “behind the scenes” look into your company to make a human connection. This is also a great place to post customer testimonials.

Instagram

If you are in the consumer goods, travel or hospitality industry, Instagram is an excellent way to promote your brand. Like Twitter, you can use hashtags and you can cross promote with your Twitter and Facebook accounts. The majority of Instagram users are 18-35 so if you are targeting an older audience, this might not be the right platform for you.

Pinterest

Like Instagram, Pinterest is a great tool for businesses whose products and services lend themselves to imagery. Pinterest users are largely female. Beware of simply posting your own product photos. In order to be successful on any social media site, you need to be social. You should be liking and commenting on other people’s pins. Think beyond product photos and post things that appeal to your company’s values and cultivate your brand image.

LinkedIn

Sometimes referred to as “Facebook for business,” LinkedIn never really took off in the same way as it’s less professional counterpart. However, for B2B companies, there is value in establishing your presence on LinkedIn to help position you as an expert. Networking is really the key strength of this social media site. Post brief status updates, promote your events, and participate in groups or answers to showcase your knowledge and expertise. In a service-based industry, potential customers will look you up on LinkedIn so it’s important that you have a company page that conveys your value.

Google+

When Google first launched Google+, they were penalizing businesses that weren’t using it as part of their SEO strategy. Over time, its importance has diminished but it should not be entirely ignored. For example, combining your Google+ Business page with your Google+ Local page can improve your ranking on location-based searches. However, with the end of Google’s authorship program last year, Google+ has lost a lot of its appeal.

Finding the Right Mix

As you can see, all of these sites have something to offer. The key is knowing who you want to reach and what message you want to communicate so that you can make the most of social media. No matter what platforms you choose to use, make sure that your social media links are included on your website. Also, for content like blog posts, news articles and product pages, be sure to take advantage of social sharing with widgets like Addthis or ShareThis. Be consistent, post often, and be social!

Still have questions? Contact us to learn more about crafting the perfect marketing strategy for your business.

top-9-SEO-changes-in 2015

Like a Chameleon, search engine visibility strategies are constantly changing. Much like a chameleon’s changing color helps it survive, your search engine optimization (SEO) practices will need to evolve to be effective. Here are the top 9 changes in search engine optimization we believe you should be aware of for future success.

Begin evaluating your strategy by focusing on the content of the website. Are you creating engaging materials that add to the user experience, or does it only exist for increased visibility in Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPs)? Is your website easy to navigate and mobile friendly? Can visitors find what they need on the page? In the past, marketers tailored SEO strategies to Google’s algorithms at the expense of user experience. This is not the case anymore; staying relevant means staying ahead of the curve. Google algorithm updates alter how search engine marketers strategize campaigns. As the new year approaches, savvy specialists are compiling SEO plans to align with Google’s latest changes.  Here are powerful SEO changes from recent years you must adhere to for relevance in 2015.

1. Smart Phones: Sensitivity to Mobile Compatibility

Global lifestyle changes with the ubiquity of smartphones have increased the amount of time people spend online. They are frequently conducting organic searches on their devices. According to an article written by Founder and CEO of Market Domination Media Jonathon Long in Entrepreneur, “Back in 2012 ComScore predictedthat mobile traffic would exceed desktop traffic in 2014, and they were correct.” In 2014, mobile searches outpaced desktop inquiries for the first time and Google accounted for compatibility in its algorithm. Mobile optimization will continue to be one of the most influential SEO changes into 2015.

2. Backlink Profile Awareness: Avoid Penguin’s Arctic Chill!

Before the release of Penguin, the key to SEO success was having a large quantity of links. Those days are long gone and the quality of links now weighs more heavily on your ranking. In an interview with Jayson Demers of Search Engine Watch, founder and CEO of KISSMetrics.com and Quicksprout Neil Patel said that, “These days, if a competitor has a thousand or ten thousand or hundred thousand links and you merely have a hundred, you can still outrank them if your quality is better, and you’re growing organically over time.” Therefore, quality over quantity is the key to an efficient backlink profile. Ensure that your backlink profile includes meaningful links. Domain and page authorities below 30 can be more hurtful than helpful, especially if your anchor texts are keyword rich and do not lend much value through the inbound link. Google’s Penguin is the policing unit on links. Those who contain links for the sake of volume (not value) will suffer a loss in ranking. Many websites have existing backlink structure from outdated strategies; 2015 will put even more pressure on websites to remove those link farms.

3. Social Media Innovations

Social media has proven itself to be a lasting communication medium. The expansion of niche and limited-feature networks such as Pinterest, Fancred, and Vine gives users more options. Brands need separate strategies to deliver meaning information across all accounts, and Google accounts for social shares. Interacting with your followers on a personal level helps to understand your audience, encourage leads, and provides a new way to rank organically. According to SEO Scribe, “Search engine algorithms are already including social signals to calculate rankings today.”

4. Staying out of Panda’s Way!

Google’ Panda update was first released in February of 2011 and continued updates until September of 2014. It decreased the rank of low-quality sites and brought higher-quality sites earlier in the search results. Websites that don’t provide users with substantially unique or valuable content are in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Avoid the following practices when updating your SEO content in 2015:

5. How Hummingbird Affects Short Tailed Keywords

Google’s Hummingbird update refined keyword relevancy in search to help deliver more powerful results to users. This increases the importance for qualifying phrases before inputting them into the website’s copy, headers, and tagsWith this update, short tail keywords with low search relevancy to their respective website saw a drop in ranking. Less competitive longer tail keywords with a direct correlation to the target URL saw an improved ranking. As you adjust your search engine strategy, favor longer tailed keywords geared towards search relevancy and intent.

6. The Rise of New Search Engines

A lot of SEOs are preparing for users to divide their attention among Google, Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo claims to not track its users, a popular feature due to growing privacy concerns. The market share will change because Mozilla replaced Google with Yahoo (which is effectively Bing), and Apple allows users to select DuckDuckGo as the default search in Safari. The adoption of these platforms in 2015 may yield further adjustments in 2016. Watch your Google analytics to see how customers’ viewing habits change over the next few years.

7. How Pigeon Impacts Your Local Listings

In July of 2014, local SEO saw an update via Pigeon. The increase of mobile searches produced more local searches as well. Maintain updated listings in order to maximize visibility on mobile searches. If you find that your business is not recorded, claim your Google Business listing. We have some tips on how to optimize Local SEO to ensure you show up on local searches. Monitor comments and politely respond to customers to protect your reputation and engage your audience. Google has updated how companies and franchises update their locations through its program, Google My Business. With new features appearing regularly, keep an eye out for what your business can use.

8. URL Structure: Do your URL’s look healthy?

Dynamic URLs that contain search queries are typically too long, and harder for users to determine subject matter based on the address, contributing to lower click-through rates. Through firsthand experience I have seen sites rank higher based on the use of a relevant keyword in the appendage of their URL. For example, a page about Chameleons changing color would be better served with “www.chameleons.com/chameleons-color-change” than “www.chameleons.com/madagascar” or worse “www.chameleons.com/57585?dkiowloeio343ljdsijg”. In your SEO plan for 2015, prioritize the evaluation of URL structures to include keywords that summarize what pages are about. This will boost your ranking for these phrases and increase your page authority.

9. Google’s Preferential Treatment Towards Security Encryption: HTTPS / SSL

Google released a statement in August that said, “over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.” This means secure HTTPS websites may get a slight boost in the search engine. In 2015, you should strongly consider transferring existing landing pages to HTTPS.

Thanks for reading about the top changes to SEO for 2015! We’d like to credit Moz’s Google algorithm change history, Founder and CEO of Market Domination Media Jonathon Long’s article in Entrepreneur, and Forbes and Search Engine Watches writer Jason DeMers’ emphasis on the effect of press releases on SEO and interview with Neil Patel as our references.

What are you planning on to work in 2015? Let us know in the comments, and if you need more help than this post can provide, contact us!