It is a real challenge to keep up with today's technological developments. It can be an overwhelming information overload even for experienced web technicians.
This article sums up my observations of the most recent online marketing updates and my recommendations to small business owners who would like to invest in online marketing.
1. Flight of the Penguins - A lot of small business owners who have invested in black hat online marketing have suffered steep drops in their rankings. The attack of the Penguin has left them revamping websites and losing daily revenue due to the drop in website traffic. Google launched "Penguin Updates"
Though this update only affected a tiny percentage of websites, the most significant effect would be on websites which used a shady link building strategy.
Google has hundreds of algorithms which are given different weights. The weighting changes depending on the trending user behavior, focusing on the relevance metric. For example, if users spend a lot of time on social media sites like Facebook, Google would give much more weight to social media in search engine ranking versus the number of link partnerships.
View Google's Quality Guidelines here
The reality is Google will continue to change so it will maintain its relevance to the market and keep its market share. It's important to keep your content fresh and helpful to your customers.
2. A picture is worth a thousand words - The success of PINTEREST is impressive! The basic platform of uploading photos online on boards SIMPLY works.
Why? Having looked at the creative photos on Pinterest, my personal impression is that it's an IDEA website. Unlike Facebook which has users uploading details about the 'user', Pinterest promotes creative ideas which awe me.
Interesting photos, emotion evoking videos are the most viral types of digital content out there. People freely share these content and their friends often reshare them.
Photo suggestions for accommodation providers:
a. Scenic attractions in the area
b. Customers enjoying facilities
c. Events around the area
d. Food, Culture scenes
3. Google + is favored by Google search engines. This means, all shares and links posted on Google + will have more weight than those shared in Facebook.
4. Advertising using Google Adwords overwhelm natural search - part of Google's push to promote Google Adwords.
5. Directories and link networks are devalued in terms of search engine rankings on search engine results.
As much as what's happening in the online space is overwhelming, it is exciting and inspiring! I have listed my recommendations on how to stay relevant online:
1. Customer Focus
a. Revisit the reasons why customers chose your brand, business, website over competitors. Ask them directly or ask via online surveys what captured their attention and what they think you can do to improve your performance. Ask them if they would recommend you to their friends. Use their insights to develop content on your website.
2. Develop a Holistic Marketing Strategy
Print, Radio, Online Media marketing strategies need to be integrated. It is important to integrate all campaigns and use online channels to distribute information, more cost-effectively.
Any promotions, discounts and coupons, product/feature updates, company announcements used to entice traffic or produce interest need to be distributed in all possible online channels.
The key is INTEGRATION - the effective use of social media, properly setting up metatags and content of your website and online paid advertising are important ingredients to survive in the online space.