In just the last three years, online marketing has experienced a major shift – and most businesses are behind the times as a result.
The 5 Hummingbird Must Do’s for BusinessesA modest pay-per-click budget and a few links back to your site used to be enough to rank for important keywords, drive traffic, and bring new customers. Today PPC ads are increasingly complex and rates are rising. The new approach to search engine optimization ushered in by the Google updates Penguin, Panda, and the Hummingbird algorithm, moves away from static web pages and keyword placement, instead putting an emphasis on the ongoing creation of quality content.
Sites that haven’t updated their strategy yet have remained stagnant or even seen a significant drop in their organic search results. And they’re likely to see a greater impact over time as other companies adopt the latest trends – unless they get on board, too.
So what does a business need to do to keep up? Here’s a list of changes you should make to adapt to the new Hummingbird algorithm from Google and the new direction of online marketing.
1. Plan a content strategy. As mentioned above, one of the most significant changes in SEO over the last few years is the shift from keyword placement to producing quality content. Google is becoming more and more effective at delivering results based on context rather than simply matching key terms. While keywords still have a place in driving organic search traffic, it should be secondary to the goal of entertaining, educating, and engaging with your audience.
An effective content strategy involves producing compelling content – blog posts, images, videos, slideshows, ebooks, infographics – on a regular schedule. Think about questions you can answer and needs (or wants) you can address. Your website should be a living, breathing thing that grows and changes as your audience does.
2. Update your website design. Does your website live up to today’s standards? The common culprit of a high bounce rate is an outdated web design. Users have come to expect a higher level of design and usability – with fast-loading times and ease of navigation. One recent study from Microsoft found that users will visit a Web site less often if it is slower than a close competitor by more than 250 milliseconds – less time than a single eye blink!
The professionalism of your design matters, too. Users are less likely to trust a business with a website that has an unattractive or cumbersome design.
3. Create a mobile friendly site. More than half of the US population owns a smartphone (61%), and that number is only expected to rise. People want easy, fast access to information while on the go. If you’re not providing it, they’ll move on to someone else who is. Brick and mortar businesses, in particular, should note that people are increasingly searching for products and services in their area while they’re out and about. If you’re nearby and offering what they need, you want to show up in their search and make the user experience as smooth as possible to land the sale.
Whether you should invest in a responsive website design (which adapts to the user’s screen) or a separate mobile site depends on your business and your budget, but it’s crucial that your site functions well on a mobile screen.
In a similar vein, it’s important that email marketing campaigns are mobile-friendly if you hope to capture leads who check email on a mobile device. Check how your template looks and functions on a smartphone before hitting send.
4. Add videos. Video is a powerful means of communicating with leads. 52% of consumers report that product videos make them more confident when purchasing online. But product videos are just the beginning; you can also incorporate demonstrations, testimonials, case studies, blog posts, presentations, how-to’s, or even messages from your CEO.
Videos can also have a significant impact on your search rankings. They show up separately in Google’s video search, which gives you more opportunities to be found. In fact, you’re 53 times more likely to get a first page ranking.
5. Engage in social media. It’s not enough to simply have a Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn account; your business has to have an active presence. This means posting regularly and replying to any messages you receive promptly.
Your goal is to build trust and develop a relationship with your audience, encouraging word-of-mouth marketing and repeat purchases. Social media will also support your content strategy, driving more traffic to your site and improving search rank.
Sound Like a Lot to Take On? It’s Worth It.
Updating your online strategy requires an investment of time and resources – but it’s an investment that’s worthwhile. I’ve seen businesses achieve a 25% to 200% increase in sales as a result.
For many businesses, meeting the new Hummingbird standards can mean hiring additional personnel or seeking outside help. The key to achieving the highest ROI for you efforts is to set clear goals and locating the right expertise for your needs.
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