Make Your Contractor Website Stand Out from Local Competition

Make Your Contractor Website Stand Out from Local Competition

When you’re building out your local contractor website, it can be tough to set yourself apart from the competition. First of all, there’s the business of actually building the site, from deciding on a design and a color palette to putting the thing online. Then there’s the problem of making sure it’s visible. Once you’ve got all of those things taken care of, you have to make sure you’re still standing out from the competition.

All in all, building a contractor website that stands out from your local competition can seem like a tedious, monstrous process, but know that it can be done, and it can be done well. Once you know what to do to make your site stand out, it’s just a matter of implementation. So, let’s get to that recipe for success right away: When it comes to creating a contractor website that stands out from local competition, you need to be clear about who you are, and you need to be technically solid. After that, it’s just about making sure the right people find you. So, let’s break those initial steps down:

Be Clear About Who You Are

The best way ensure your contractor website stands out from the competition is to be absolutely clear about who you are, and why you’re different. What makes your contracting company better than your local competition? Do you have a hyperfocus on customer experience? Are you really great at communication? Do you offer the best prices, or the best quality? Whatever it is, it should be clear, and it should take a site visitor less than 10 seconds to figure it out. Put the heart of your contracting company at the front and center of that new website, and make it easy for potential clients to see who you are, and what you do best.

Educate

Let’s say there’s three major contracting companies in your local area. They all quote competitively, and do the same type of work. However, one of those contractors regularly posts blogs that demystify some of the more confusing aspects of the contracting industry, and they share them to their social media pages. That contractor, all other things being equal, is going to be the contractor who pulls in more, bigger jobs. Why? Because they’ve positioned themselves as an educator, and a resource for potential clients who are looking into hiring a contractor.

Remember that the modern consumer is research-driven and educated. The modern consumer wants to gather as much information as possible before they even consider talking to a salesperson or asking for a quote. By offering up the information they’re already looking for, you become that resource that they go to when they have questions, and you’re more likely to be the first contractor they call when they decide it’s time to start collecting bids.

Be Social

It’s not enough to just write those educational blogs though, you gotta post ’em too! And not just to your website. You should be sharing your tips, as well as helpful information from other industry leaders to your Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter accounts, because if no one sees what you’re writing, there’s not much point in writing it. Sharing useful information gets you followers, and it gets more eyes on what you’re putting out. Active social media accounts are also a great way to set yourself apart from contracting competition just by sheer numbers. Most social media platforms prefer users who post regularly, so if you’re posting every week, and your competition posts just every month, you’re likely to have a bit of a leg up when it comes to visibility.

We should caution: don’t use your social media accounts just to talk about you. That’s probably the fastest way to lose followers. Make sure you’re putting out content that’s relevant to your target audience and your ideal buyer. Whether you wrote it, or another industry expert did, the content that you’re sharing should be engaging, interesting, and answer some question your clients often have.

Address Specific Pain Points

Finally, when you’re writing content and developing your contractor website to stand out from local competition, it’s important to remember to address specific pain points. Sure, you finish projects and meet deadlines, but what pain points do your ideal buyers have, and how—specifically—do you work to fix those?

The more you can do to assuage common concerns that your target market is likely to have when it comes to finding a contractor that’s right for them, the more likely you are to get their business. How do you ensure their project is completed to their specifications, and how do you work to maintain a tight schedule? Specific answers to questions that worry consumers the most is a surefire way to set yourself apart from local competition.

Get Technical

While all of the soft skills above will set you apart from the competition when it comes to consumers, you also need to know how to set yourself apart from the competition when it comes to search engines. Anyone building a contractor website would be wise to remember that it’s not only consumers who are looking at your site and its quality—you also have the internet and its bots to contend with. What exactly do we mean here?

Well, on any search engine like Google, spiders, or bots, crawl websites on the internet to search them for information. It’s these bots that decide where on results pages a site will rank, and it’s these bots that tell Google what your site is about. So, when you’re building your contractor website, you also have to make sure you’re building with search engines in mind, and that means taking care of a few technical details.

SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the first step to ensuring that your website ranks well on search engines. There’s a lot you can do to optimize your site but start by implementing keywords relevant to your contracting business. These keywords should focus on the specific type of contracting work your company does, your location, and terms that your ideal client might be searching for on the internet. Start with keywords, and once you’ve got a handle on those, implement some of these more advanced strategies from our SEO Site Checkup, to make sure your site is ranking as well as possible.

Google My Business Page

One great way to make sure you’re really standing out from any local competition online is to claim your contracting company’s Google listing. If you have a website, Google has probably already made you a stock listing that tells people who and where you are when they search “contractors near me.” To stand out from the crowd, you’ll want to claim that page, which is actually pretty easy to do.  

From there, you can customize your Google My Business page any way you want. Add high-resolution photos, office hours, and information about your company that’s optimized around relevant keywords if you want to stand out from the crowd.

Don’t Hate on Ads

Google search and Facebook ads are a sort of brave new world for those in the contracting industry. Since they’re so new and different, many contractors shy away from them, at a loss to themselves. If you want qualified leads in your area to see your contractor website before anyone else’s, the easiest thing to do is invest in Google search and Facebook ads. These two very powerful programs work to make sure your company is put in front of the right people, at the right time, ensuring ROI and new leads.

Though they’re a little bit more complicated than the old standard YellowPages ad, it’s not by much, and the ROI you’ll receive makes them well worth your time. It’s in your best interest to at least check them out because when done properly, they’re guaranteed to put you ahead of local competition.

In the end, a successful contractor website that stands out from local competition is achieved by optimizing the content you create on that website and the tech that supports it. If you can focus on both aspects of your website, and you optimize for keywords your clients are out there searching, you’re sure to see a marked improvement in your contractor website’s ability to draw in and convert new leads.

If you’re excited about boosting your contractor website’s potential, but you’re not sure about implementation, know that Evenbound can help. We’ve worked with a number of small businesses in your industry, and know just what to do to ensure your site stands out from local competition. The best way to see how we can help your contracting company improve is to have a conversation with our President, John Heritage

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Why We Use WordPress for Digital Marketing

Why We Use WordPress for Digital Marketing

Here at Evenbound, we use WordPress for our own website and blog, and we almost always recommend our clients do so as well. For the purposes of digital marketing, WordPress really can’t be beat, and as an all-around website building tool, most of the world agrees. More than 74 million sites on the internet are built through WordPress, making it by far the most popular content management system (CMS) available to anyone. In case you’re still not buying it, think about your favorite big-name websites: CNN, The New York Times, Ebay, BBC America, Bloomberg America, and even Facebook Newsroom. They all use WordPress. Oh and we forgot one: Beyoncé. That’s right, Queen Bey herself uses WordPress to host her content, post recent updates, and keep her millions of fans informed.

All of these major players didn’t just choose WordPress willy-nilly, either, they chose it for a reason. WordPress is easy to use, affordable, and already optimized for SEO, making it an obvious choice for a number of businesses, celebrities, and news stations looking for a comprehensive CMS that’s totally customizable. But we don’t want you to just pick up WordPress because it’s what Beyoncé uses, so we’re going to give you all the reason why WordPress is the right choice for us, and for our digital marketing clients:

It’s Free

One of the most obvious benefits of WordPress is that it’s free. While there are costs and fees associated with using WordPress if you choose to host with them, or upgrade to a higher-level template, anyone can create a WordPress site for free if they want to. What’s more, WordPress offers two versions of their services: WordPress.com for those of us who need something that’s easy and functional for a personal blog or something that’s relatively small, and WordPress.org for people who plan on hosting their website, purchasing a domain name, and running a business through their website. Either way, a WordPress site can be designed and built for little to no money at all.

Simple, Easy Hosting

Another benefit of WordPress is total hosting flexibility. Almost every hosting service out there supports WordPress, and if you have your own server space, you can self-host easily. There’s no trouble with finding a compatible server or host, because it’s built on free, open-source code that’s easily hosted anywhere.

Optimized for Search Engines

One really attractive benefit that’s made WordPress the obvious choice for us is that Google loves WordPress sites. WordPress uses exceptionally clean, easy-to-read code, which makes it simple for Google to index and crawl their sites. WordPress also features a number of plugins that help you optimize your site yourself. The Yoast SEO Plugin is sort of the gold standard for search engine optimization. It allows you to customize your site title, meta description, title tag, and keyword, and then gives you an indication of how well that page will rank. Best of all, it’s free too.

Easy to Maintain and Update

WordPress is a foolproof CMS that anyone can handle. We often have clients who would like to have control of their sites to be able to post their own company updates and make changes to content when it’s necessary, and WordPress makes it easy for them to do so. It’s easy to pick up and understand, and you don’t need to know any code to make updates or post new content. WordPress offers us a great option to hand over to our clients, as it’s not intimidating, and empowers them to be able to use their own websites however they see fit. You can also set security updates and maintenance updates to occur automatically, so you know your site is always well-protected and technologically up-to-date.

Tons of Beautiful Design Options

More than just functionality, WordPress offers a ton of beautiful, clean design options. In a world where appearance and design can make the difference between you and the competition, WordPress makes it easy to stand out. They offer a number of customizable templates to best display your content, whether it’s a weekly blog or an e-commerce site.

Fully Responsive Themes and Mobile Support

WordPress is up on each and every one of the Google Algorithm’s preferences, which is why they offer a number of responsive themes that scale to fit the size of any screen. What’s more, all WordPress sites are supported on mobile devices, meaning you won’t miss out on traffic anywhere.

Flexibility and Customization

WordPress offers more than 50,000 free plugins, which means if there’s anything you want your site to do, that you can’t do as-is, there’s probably a plugin to help you along. Whether you’re looking to embed PDFs or add in another feature, like landing pages or calls to action, WordPress plugins are the solution, ensuring you can always shift or change your site’s capabilities to fit your unique needs. Again, no coding necessary.

Supports Blogs

WordPress actually started out as a blogging platform, which means content marketing is in the CMS’s blood. It’s one of the best content management systems for blogging out there, which is why you’ll see a ton of big-name news sites using it for their content development. WordPress not only supports blogs, but makes it easy for you to update and change them, schedule them into the future, and share your blog posts to your social media accounts and regular followers.

Easily Connects to Social Media

When it comes to content marketing, promotion is equally as important as development, and WordPress knows that. They make it easy to link each of your company’s social media accounts to your WordPress site, so you can easily share content and updates, and your site visitors can share, comment, like and otherwise engage with anything they really like on your site.

Analytics and Tracking

As digital marketers, analytics and tracking are our end-all-be-all. Analytics tell us where we’re doing things right, and where we need to improve, so we love that WordPress offers those numbers freely and easily. Any WordPress site comes with an analytics panel that will tell you how many people have visited your site, and how often. With the addition of one or two easy plugins, you can also track the success of your calls-to-action and landing pages, to see which of those are performing best, and which need a few tweaks. If you’re looking to optimize the traffic to your site, WordPress is a powerful, free tool to take advantage of.

Easy Migration

For us, WordPress makes our lives easier by making site migration a breeze. A number of our clients come to us with a clunky, older website that has content they’d like to preserve, but isn’t updated, user-friendly or built in a modern CMS. WordPress makes it really easy to migrate that old site onto their framework, and give it an immediate facelift and boost in usability, without losing any of the content or authority of the old site.

Offers Familiarity for Consumers

Consumers love a website they don’t have to think about. Since WordPress has been around for so long and is so prolific, most internet users intuitively know how a WordPress site functions, even if they don’t know the site is built in WordPress. The menu placement is familiar, it’s easy to navigate, it loads quickly, and consumers will find content where they expect it to be, which means people will be at ease on your WordPress site. They’ll be comfortable there, and more likely to remain on the page if they already know how the site works.

Longevity

The ultimate benefit of WordPress is its longevity. It’s already shown that it can adapt to changing consumer and internet demands, and with more than 74 million sites, WordPress has asserted itself as a CMS that’s here to stay. You don’t have to worry about it going out of style, or becoming irrelevant. WordPress regularly updates to maintain current code standards and will continue to do so, making it a safe, long-term investment for your website. It’s easily customized for any new thing you’d like to do with your website, and best of all, it’s Google-approved.

In the end, when we talk about WordPress, the first description that comes to mind is easy. It’s easy to use, easy to implement, easy to change, easy to track, and easy to update. And if you’re considering digital marketing at all, WordPress is definitely the first CMS to consider. It comes with a ton of SEO benefits built-in, and you’ll be able to integrate any and all content marketing best practices with the touch of a button.

If you think WordPress might be the right CMS for you, but you’re not quite sure how to get started, get in touch. We manage our own website on WordPress, as well as most of our clients’ WordPress websites, so we can give you the help you need. Check out the case study below for more information about how a great website can help you move to the top of the market. 

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Creating Compelling Content [Without Giving Away Company Secrets]

Creating Compelling Content [Without Giving Away Company Secrets]

As a digital marketing company that believes strongly in the power of content marketing to draw in qualified leads, we get a lot of questions about how to write content effectively. Probably the most asked question when it comes to creating content is, “but won’t we give away company secrets?”  And the answer to that is sometimes, yes. Creating compelling content often means creating content that divulges how your company got to be where you are, and what it is that makes you special. But that’s not a bad thing, and we promise it’s not going to ruin your company or give your competitors a leg up. Here’s why:

If you’re looking to create compelling content, the first thing you need to do is forget everything you think you know. Giving away your company’s secret isn’t going to lose you money or turn clients away.

If You’re Worried About the Competition:

Don’t worry about the competition. At least not when it comes to content marketing. Unless you have some highly prized product like the Google search algorithm that no one could never engineer or produce or that is so top secret your business would literally crumble if one extra person knew it, your competition probably already has the formula. We hear it all the time: “I don’t want to put out too much content, because then my competitors will know how I do what I do.” If we’re being honest, they already know. All lawyers go to law school. All roofers know what products are on the market, and which ones are the highest end. All manufacturers have access to a wide variety of manufacturing methods. What really sets you apart is how you conduct business, and how you interact with potential clients.

If you’re a roofer, it’s not how you put on shingles or what shingles you put on that makes the difference. What makes the difference is that you’re respectful to homeowners, you complete projects quickly, and you make sure your crews clean up after themselves. What might make you stand out even more is an extra-spectacular warranty or service program, but people will have to know about it if you want that to set you apart. When you get down to it, your secret sauce isn’t all that secret. Heck, even McDonald’s has given away the recipe to their secret sauce:

But, if you’re still not quite comfortable with a company tell-all, there are still plenty of ways to write compelling content that endears you to followers and generates quality leads. Start by identifying what makes your company different. Is it your product? Is it your service? Or is it how you interact with clients that truly makes your company better than all the rest. Then, write content that speaks to that exact point.

Tell the What and Why

If you’re genuinely worried about revealing too much, focus on just writing about the “what” and the “why” and leave out the how. What is your product or service, exactly, and why are you the best provider for that good? What’s your elevator pitch? Content doesn’t have to tell how you make your super awesome product, but it should tell potential buyers why they should purchase it from you, and what exactly they’ll get out of working with you.

If you think about it, Panera Bread doesn’t necessarily give out the recipes to their food items, but they do tell you what’s in each of their dishes. This helps people choose healthy meals that they’ll feel good about, but it doesn’t mean they’re giving away their product for free. And even if Panera did give out their recipes, would that mean they’d no longer have customers? No, because people really go to Panera because it’s a fast, healthy lunch option they don’t have to feel guilty about eating.

Address Legitimate Questions and Fears

One of the best ways to get a consumer’s attention is to answer a question they’ve had about your product for a while, or resolve a fear they might have about your product or service. Today’s consumer needs to be fully informed before they’ll even consider making a purchase. They’ll analyze every pro and con of a product, and if they can’t find that sort of information, they’re less likely to purchase it. By creating posts and blogs that answer some of your target clients’ most frequently asked questions, you’ll be able to a) create content that’s genuinely useful, and b) draw in more qualified leads with the content that your target audience is already searching for.

Sell your Process

Consumers are absolutely obsessed about how things are made. Take one look at Youtube or Reddit, and you’ll see streams of videos that show how even the most common household products, like mascara and Pop-Tarts, are made:

You’ll notice that very few of those video-watchers are likely to start making their own Pop-Tarts from scratch, or designing their own, custom mascara. Most of these consumers just want to know what’s going into the products they purchase and use every day, they don’t care about making them themselves. What’s more, it’s just plain cool to see hundreds of Pop-Tarts sliding across the screen. If you want to create compelling content, you can’t go wrong with a short 1-2 minute video that shows how you do what you do. Even if you sell a service, clients want to know what to expect at each step of your service, which is why breaking down what you do into easy-to-follow steps grabs people’s attention.

Demonstrate Capabilities

A great way to generate content that turns site visitors into clients is to demonstrate your capabilities and your results. For home services pros, this often works best with before and after pictures, showing the old (really ugly) kitchen, and the new, shiny kitchen that you’ve renovated. For anyone who’s results aren’t necessarily visible, case studies are your best friend. People interested in what you have to offer will love a case study because they show measurable results for clients just like them.

For us, we’ve found that digital marketing sometimes throws off clients who aren’t tech-savvy. Since you can’t immediately see, with your own two eyes, the results that our services deliver, some people are wary of what we have to offer. We’ve found case studies to be exceptionally helpful in solving this problem because they give cold hard facts: how many leads we delivered each month, how much traffic our clients now see, where that traffic is coming from, and most importantly, how much revenue our efforts generated.

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When you can provide hard numbers like that, people are more likely to respond, because it’s specific and honest. Consumers are tired of the same, general marketing statements like “this will change your life” or “massively increase your returns” that companies boast about, but never prove. People want to see cold hard facts, and they’re excited by content that delivers that, so if you want to draw in qualified traffic, put up a few case studies showcasing the results you’ve delivered.

Get Emotional

Finally, don’t be afraid to get emotional. There’s nothing consumers connect with more than a great story, so be sure to tell them yours. The more a consumer knows about your company and about you, the more real you feel, and the more likely they are to reach out to you. With the rise of internet and technology, there’s been a loss of genuine human connection in business, so if you can find a way to show your clients that you’re more than just a building or a product, you’re likely to have content that more people connect to.

Creating compelling content can be a lot easier than you think if you just identify that thing that sets your company apart. Because in the age of the internet, there isn’t much the consumer doesn’t know or can’t find out. The best way to build a content marketing strategy that delivers legitimate leads is to be honest and helpful, and create a connection with that potential customer. Because when a consumer has their choices narrowed down to you and a competitor, they’re going to pick the option they feel they have the greater connection with, and if you’ve been helping them along by answering their questions directly and providing content that helps them figure out what their options are, they’re going to choose you.

Content marketing is what we do. If you’re struggling to finesse your content marketing or larger digital marketing strategy, we can help. Get in touch by sending us a message at your convenience.

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What’s your Real Estate Development’s Story?

What’s your Real Estate Development’s Story?

When it comes to real estate development, marketing isn’t always an easy task. Rather than selling just one home, you’re selling a whole bunch of homes at once, and that means speaking to a much larger number of people. That’s why it’s so important for real estate developers to tell a story. If you think about it, you’re selling people on a lifestyle, not a piece of land. No homeowner is going to purchase a home in a real estate development because the land is really nice. Instead, they’re looking for a place they can call home, where they’ll hang out with their neighbors and raise their kids. That’s why real estate developers need to find their community’s story, and tell it in a way that rings true with the right people.

So, if you’re working on beefing up your real estate development marketing strategy, here are a few tips to help you pinpoint the story of your development. To help illustrate our tips, we’ll be using real-life examples from one of our own housing development clients‘ website.

What Do Your Residents Do?

What does a day in the life of your ideal resident look like? Do they work full-time, and if so where? If they don’t work, is it because they’re home with the kids, or because they’re retired? When you have a better idea of what your residents’ lifestyle looks like, you’ll be able to market to them more directly. You can tailor your development’s story to fit their unique lifestyle, and when you know what they do for a living, you’ll also have a better idea of where to set the price point.

Our client, Sovereign Oaks, worked to pinpoint their ideal resident, and found that their perfect buyer was the type of person who wanted to live somewhere peaceful, where they could raise a family or take in the beautiful natural surroundings, but who also valued cultural experience. As you can see from their homepage, they made sure to incorporate those values into their development’s story by showing potential buyers that their development was located in the peace of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but just minutes away from downtown Asheville.

Sovereign Oaks_Story

What Do Your Residents Like?

Once you know what your residents do in their daily lives, you’ll want to discover what it is they do in their free time. What do they like, what are their values, and what sort of community do they picture themselves in? If you’re building a retirement community, your residents will want to know about things to do that are very close to the community. They’ll also want to know what sort of support they’ll have access to at home, like a lawn care service, or help with around-the-house repairs. If your community is geared towards younger residents, know that they’ll care less about community services, and more about what they can do in the area, like music and shows going on in town, and possible activities to do with the kids.

Sovereign Oaks recognized that a number of people in their price point wanted to live in a community that valued sustainable living practices. They included things like a community garden and encouraged backyard farming and beekeeping. But since their residents are younger, they also made sure to show that they were up-to-date technologically.

Sovereign Oaks_Community

The above slider, with just a header and a single sentence, convey both of those ideas neatly and easily. Here, Sovereign Oaks is telling potential residents their development’s story. It’s a simple, easy place to live, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have all of your technological luxuries. With state-of-the-art technology they’re able to provide a fiber optic line to each house, ensuring each resident has a superior internet connection.

Choose Three Words to Describe Your Community:

The best way to go about telling your real estate development’s story is to start with a concise idea. One way to make sure your story is consistent, and your marketing content is always on message, is to pick three words that together, describe the culture of your community. For Sovereign Oaks, those three words are something like: tranquil, sustainable, and convenient. From there, and using those three words as core concepts when describing their community, it’s easy to explain to potential residents that when you live at Sovereign Oaks, you’re living in a community that’s peacefully quiet, that values sustainability, and that’s easy to get to-and-from.

Since the Sovereign Oaks story is so clear, it’s easy to qualify or disqualify potential leads, and they’re not often approached by people who won’t be a good fit for their community. In addition to attracting potential buyers who are well suited to purchase their homes, they’re also attracting home buyers who will fit in well with the rest of the residents already living in the community.

Put Your Story on the Web

Once you’ve decided what your real estate development’s story is, it’s time to write it down and put it out on the web. Make sure your message is clear and accompanied by beautiful professional photos of your community. Remember that buyers are most compelled by a community that’s easy to envision themselves in. Show visitors to your site what life looks like at your development, because if they can picture themselves living there, they’re likely to pick up the phone and give you a call.

If you’re interested to know more about how Evenbound drives results for developers, check out the case study below. Or if you’re looking for information on marketing your own housing development, get in touch.

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Inbound Marketing Forecast 2018

Inbound Marketing Forecast 2018

The inbound and digital marketing sphere has changed quite a bit in the past year. Where last year, we were just hearing about personal assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, this year, they’ve been fully installed in thousands of homes. Fewer consumers are searching with desktops, and the great majority of all web searches are conducted via mobile device. In addition to all the technology improvements and changes, there’s been a noticeable shift in consumer habits to the hyperlocal. More and more people are searching businesses, restaurants, and services within their own area, which provides a lot of opportunities for digital marketers but does require a bit of a change in tactics.

As inbound marketers ourselves, we’ve been reviewing our progress this past year and looking forward to new trends likely to arise in 2018. If you’re working on optimizing your inbound and digital marketing strategies in the new year, here’s our inbound marketing forecast for 2018: a few of the biggest changes we expect to see that will directly affect how we do our jobs and help our clients.

Greater Focus on Mobile

Mobile devices continue to function as the number one way consumers search the web, meaning mobile search is going to change the game in 2018. No matter whether they’re looking for a nearby restaurant or searching for a video on how to change their own oil, most people Google their questions first via a mobile device. The idea that searches are primarily done on mobile devices first isn’t a huge surprise; Google has been optimizing their indexing system to prioritize mobile users for a few years now. Just because it’s old news, though, doesn’t mean digital marketers shouldn’t pay attention. All SEO initiatives should be implemented with mobile users first in mind, and anyone without a mobile responsive website should really consider an update within the year.

It’s good to remember that Google launched their Mobile-First Indexing system in 2017, and we’re just beginning to see the full effects. That system prioritizes mobile versions of sites first and foremost, and indexes websites based on the content hosted on the mobile version, rather than the desktop version. So, if you’re still running an “m.” mobile site with abbreviated content, you’ll want to make some changes to ensure your site continues to rank well for competitive keywords.

New SEO Trends to Watch For

When it comes to SEO, digital marketers are always aiming at a moving target. 2018 is no different, and new technology like personal assistants, as well as the rise of video marketing, shift our target yet again. Google also holds a heavy influence on SEO best practices, so we’ll start there:

Nix Mobile Pop-Ups

As part of Google’s revamped mobile-first indexing, they’re frowning upon mobile pop-ups that interfere with user experience. Where in the past, pop-ups were a great way to get the user’s attention and convince them to give you an email address, Google has determined that they frustrate mobile users. Now, mobile sites using pop-ups that cover a certain percentage of the screen could receive slight penalties that will affect search rankings. Check Hubspot’s article on pop-up mobile marketing for the nitty-gritty.

SEO for Voice Search and Personal Assistants

Probably one of the biggest trends we see coming down the pipeline this year are voice searches and searches via personal assistants like Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Google Home. They’ll be a big game changer for SEO experts, but if you get ahead of the game, you’re likely to rank highly for relevant long-tail keywords with low competition.

When it comes to voice search, the name of the game is intent, and it’s actually a great boon to digital marketers. Basically, instead of typing in keywords like “blueberry pancakes” or “snow shovel”, a consumer is going to ask Alexa, “Where can I find the best blueberry pancakes near me?” or “Where can I purchase a snow shovel?”. The difference is that in the voice search, you know exactly where a consumer is in the buyer’s journey, and you can bid on long-tail keywords that you know point to qualified leads who are ready to buy.

It’s all well and good to bid on paid ads you know will get you leads, but you’ll have to do a little bit more work than that if you’d like to rank for some of those key voice searches. Digital marketers and inbound marketers alike will be focused on creating more natural content that’s centered around questions and phrases a human would actually use, rather than Google’s search bots.

Social Media Shift

As you’d imagine, the social media world has continued to shift into 2018. Facebook has long been the primary platform for marketers, but other social media sites are beefing up their advertising platforms to remain competitive. What’s more, because consumer needs and desires have changed, the way we’re using social media is set to shift this year. Here’s a look at a few of the bigger changes we expect to see in 2018:

Instagram for B2Cs

Since no one’s really figured out how to monetize Twitter, and possibly never will, many B2C companies have turned to Instagram, and the numbers are looking pretty good. Though Facebook will continue to be the social media ad-king through 2018, thanks to its exceptional targeting tools, many B2Cs have been seeing increasing success with Instagram. In less than a year, its new Instagram Stories have become more popular than Snapchat, and companies are seeing a great deal of engagement from brand influencers on the platform. What’s more, you’ll see Instagram continue to bulk up its advertising controls to ensure that digital marketer’s messages get through to the target consumers.

LinkedIn for B2Bs

No surprise here: LinkedIn continues to be a key social media platform for B2Bs. What’s new, though, is LinkedIn’s improvements to the platform. They refreshed their interface, for starters, but they’ve also made significant, positive changes to their advertising platform, which is looking pretty slick. Marketers can choose the shape, size, and style of their ads, target the ads to certain industries and even specific companies, and LinkedIn also offers an expansion feature, where they choose audiences similar to the ones you’re targeting, so you can expand your ad’s reach in an educated way. This improves LinkedIn’s worth to B2B advertisers and makes it easier to speak to those target buyers where they live.

Increased Engagement Across Social Media Platforms

Social media marketing has long been an integral part of any marketer’s toolbox, but in 2018, it’s looking like increased engagement is what sells. Today’s consumer wants their experience with any company to feel genuine, rather than pushed on them. That’s why companies like Starbucks are seeing tons of positive engagement from campaigns like the “White Cup Contest” where consumers were invited to draw on Starbucks cups and submit their designs to social media platforms via the #whitecupcontest hashtag. The winning design was then printed on a reusable Starbucks cup and sold across the country.

Today’s consumer wants to feel like they’re a part of the process, and have a say in what their favorite companies do and produce. Customer reviews have long held a great deal of sway in Google rankings, but in 2018, we’ll start to see consumer engagement surpass just reviews. If you’re looking to get the word out about your company, we suggest you invite increased engagement across social media platforms in whatever way you can, whether that’s asking for consumer opinions, or starting a contest like Starbucks’ White Cup Contest, that gets consumers invested in your brand.

New Marketing Platforms to Explore

New technology invites new marketing opportunities. In 2018, we expect to see a great deal of changes as to where, and how we market digitally thanks to video media’s rise in popularity, and the ease of use that home assistants provide. Again, technology isn’t the only thing that’s causing a shift in how marketers get their jobs done. Changing consumer habits will affect how we market as well this year. Here are three big changes we expect to see in 2018:

Voice Marketing

We’ve already talked about voice marketing a bit, but it really is a burgeoning aspect of digital marketing that we can’t ignore. If you’re looking for new ways to expand your digital marketing efforts, keep voice search and personal assistants in mind. Consumers are searching with those long-tail keywords, which means content that’s targeted to more natural, native phrases will start to see better rankings and more engagement.

Video Marketing

In addition to the fact that mobile internet use will increase, mobile video consumption is predicted to grow by more than 25% in 2018. Live video was one of the biggest new trends to hit social media this past year, and as attention spans grow shorter, many marketers are finding that video marketing is a key way to grab and hold onto new leads. Video marketing also speaks to the transparency that younger consumers appreciate and search for.

When you show consumers how your product works, what your employees look like, and exactly what you do every day at your company, you’re providing a genuine experience for new potential leads, and that’s what younger consumers appreciate, and are latching onto more often. Break into video marketing easily with a simple tour of your company’s store, factory, or facility. People love to see “how things are made” and an up-close look at what you do makes it easier for consumers to associate you as more than just a brand—a marketing strategy that’s proven to sell.

Local Marketing

With the rise of voice search and local-first movements encouraging consumers to support their community by purchasing from local, small businesses, local marketing has begun to see a significant increase in the past few years. Expect to see considerably more local marketing in 2018, as Google has now rolled out Google Posts for small businesses, Facebook’s introduced Facebook Local, and Google has rebranded their home services advertising platform to Google Local Services.

There’s a huge push to stand out in the local area, and these advertising options are making it much easier for local businesses to be seen, and discovered by local searchers. Continue to optimize your local marketing strategy by pushing keywords focused on location, ensuring NAP is consistent across platforms, and regularly updating your business’ Google Business Page, as well as your Facebook Page and website.

Inbound Marketing Strategies to Implement in 2018

At HA Digital Marketing, we’re firm believers in the power and success of inbound marketing, which is why we apply the inbound philosophy to everything we do for our clients. Inbound is proven to draw in qualified leads, and turn them into long-term customers, which is why we’ll be implementing the following inbound marketing strategies as we move into 2018:

Better Understanding of Buyer’s Journey

Today’s consumer values transparency, trust, and information. They don’t want to be marketed to, but they do appreciate information that’s relevant to their specific pain points. That’s why in 2018, digital marketers should strive to use data to identify pain points for each and every step of their company’s buyer’s journey. Learn what sort of content they appreciate, and when, and use that data to better inform your overall marketing strategy. Potential clients will thank you for the attention, and your optimized marketing strategy will shorten the sales cycle.

Personalized Content

In the same vein, 2018 is the year to forget mass email blasts and generalized ads. Consumers can spot them from a mile away, and they don’t get anyone’s attention anymore. Instead, focus on hyper-segmenting your content and emails, and ensuring you’re generating a personalized experience for each potential client. It doesn’t have to be difficult either. There are a number of tools out there that can help you automatically incorporate each lead’s name to different landing pages, emails, and advertisements. From there, it’s a matter of segmenting your content by industry and job title so that each lead is receiving content that speaks specifically to their job, and their unique pain points.

Topic Cluster Content Strategy

Another inbound marketing strategy that’s on the rise in 2018 is called topic clusters, or content clusters. A topic cluster content strategy offers an organized way to create content that hits every major long-tail keyword related to each major focus area of your company and boosts your search engine rankings by linking those different pages of related content together. It sounds confusing and difficult to implement, but it’s probably not all that different from what you’ve been doing, if you’ve got a comprehensive content strategy already. Here’s a visual of what a topic cluster for content strategy looks like:

Not so scary after all, right?

Start with a pillar page. This is a page that offers a general overview of one topic in the broadest terms. Think of it like a topic 101 page: the basics that everyone should know about your topic. Let’s say you’re the owner of a coffee roasting company looking to generate some online traffic. Your first pillar page might be “Roasting Coffee 101: The Basics.” You’ll give your readers the most general information about roasting coffee. Then, your subsequent topic pages will be related to that pillar page, but will offer more depth on one specific subject, allowing you to target a long-tail keyword like “The Best Way to Roast Arabica Beans.” Each cluster content page like that one will link to the pillar page, offering your readers more information on the subject they’re already interested in.

But helping your readers dive further into your site, and understand your product more fully aren’t the only benefits of topic clusters. Topic clusters also function to link content for one target audience or buyer persona together, and they link all of those similar-themed keywords together as well. This helps you boost your search engine rankings, as if one page does really well, the others linked to it will also see a positive boost in rankings, thanks to your strategic hyperlinks. So, if your company’s New Years resolution was to boost your Google rankings, know that topic clusters are an ideal place to start.

Conclusion

We’re going to see a ton of changes to the digital marketing sphere this year, some we can predict, and others that we can’t. What we know is that mobile traffic will only continue to rise, as will local marketing and targeted advertising via social media platforms. Savvy digital marketers will recognize these trends early in the year, and work to optimize their marketing strategies to accommodate them, as well as newer technology like personal assistants and live video. As we mentioned before, digital marketing is always a bit like trying to hit a moving target, and 2018 will be no different.

If you’ve got any questions on the trends and strategies mentioned in this article, or if you’d like more information about digital marketing in the new year, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ll be optimizing our digital marketing strategy to fit with new 2018 trends, and would love to help you out too! If you’re interested in making use of our years of experience and digital marketing savvy, it all starts with a conversation.

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