Get the most out of your search and social media campaigns this year by taking inventory now and making these 13 actions part of your best practices.
1. Make measurement a priority in 2013. IIf you’re not able to track the ROI of your search campaigns (or worse yet, don’t know what ROI is or what your goals are), move this initiative to the top of your to-do list. It’s critical for your search team to be optimizing your campaign around the right products, keyword targets and metrics that move the needle for your business. Make sure your analytics are set up properly and that you’re schooled in how to get the most out of them.
2. Implement SEO recommendations quickly. Committing resources to quickly implement SEO recommendations is a critical component to success in this marketing channel. Recommendations are often based on shifting algorithms and competitors’ movements. Organic search can have significant lead time. When recommendations sit for months, opportunities are lost and the game can change. Keep in mind, once your recommendations are implemented, it will still take time for them to “bake” and affect your presence in the search engines. By quickly implementing recommendations, and giving the search engines ample time to react to modifications, you’ll realize results sooner.
3. Watch competitors in multiple channels. It used to be enough to watch the competitors above and below you in the search results. However, today’s search game is going on in multiple channels and spread across a growing number of keywords. Your competitors’ activity on YouTube/video search, image search, in social media channels, shopping feeds, with their blog or PR may be landing them in areas of the search results where you are not competitive. They may be more adept at marketing to different segments of their audience which is giving them an advantage in personalized search results.
4. Develop a content plan. Algorithm updates over the past two years have made fresh, quality content an essential ingredient for success. If content is not planned, it often doesn’t happen. Work with your entire marketing team early this year to generate an editorial calendar which incorporates seasonal promotions, new products, social media and search needs. You’ll need content which can win engagement, links and social votes. Pre-planning also gives you time to line up needed internal or external resources and/or budget. Keep in mind, sometimes content isn’t only textual. Think video, infographics, etc.
5. Plan ahead. Pre-plan your search targets, landing pages and content needs around new products and seasonal trends. Use last year’s analytics data to find your winning keywords and landing pages. Incorporate those winners in your 2013 strategy. Know your content gaps (winning content from competitors, perhaps?) and have a schedule for building against these gaps.
6. Embrace best practices. Recent algorithm shifts have made it very apparent to some companies that they need to keep best practices in mind. Moving your search campaign forward requires letting go of outdated tactics for acquiring links and building landing pages. A more competitive landscape makes it essential to put solid SEO foundational technical practices in place. Sometimes people can over-think “good SEO” and forget that building a quality Website, ripe with great, original “usable” copy and pages are the things that can lead to success in SEO that’s “algorithm proof.”
7. Know your audience. Your mobile and tablet audience is growing. Have you optimized the experience that visitors on different devices have with you? Are you discovering more about your audience’s interests through social media? A one-size fits all approach isn’t effective any longer. Now is the time to invest in mobile initiatives, responsive design and to mine social data to develop more targeted messaging and site experiences for your customers. Sometimes very good content is better represented in video rather than text (ie. “How To” information).
8. Don’t silo data. Leverage data from other channels. If you had success with particular keywords or landing pages in paid search, look to integrate these findings in your organic campaign. If an email landing page was particularly effective, look at ways to incorporate that messaging or to test design or call to action elements on your Website. There are even great call tracking services which can monitor words your prospects are using on sales calls and find those common words being used for those who become customers. Bringing all of this information together is – yes – now part of optimization. (Whether or not we call this “search engine optimization” is another matter.)
9. Think cross channel. The search engines are adapting to social media by incorporating social signals in their algorithms, measuring the social graph, calculating social influence, understanding relationships between content and authors and reading and displaying open graph tags in search results. If you have yet to build a social presence and tie those efforts into your Website and other channels, the time is now!
10. Embrace Diversity. If the recent fallout from Google’s Penguin and Panda taught site owners anything, it was that diversity is needed. Your link building efforts should use a diverse array of tactics to acquire links of all types. Utilizing one tactic sticks out like a sore thumb as an unnatural link profile. To accomplish this, you’ll need quality content and will greatly benefit from planning how to serve up unique slices of this content for different audiences and channels. Keep in mind that cross channel content (social / press releases, etc.) are key elements here, as well. Chuck Price had an excellent post recently on the risk/reward of link building tactics.
11. Optimize everything. Diverse search results mean that you should optimize content in most channels. If you publish a press release without optimizing the headline, links and anchors, you’ve missed an opportunity to build links and make your release more visible in news search. If you fail to optimize video assets, you are limiting their reach. After all, YouTube is the second largest search engine. Twitter content is more successful with links and images. Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm determines which content gets into the news feeds.
12. Don’t forget to tag links. Adding appropriate analytics tags to links you use in PR, email, social media and paid search allows you to measure the outcome of those efforts. With tagging, you’ll be able to better understand which efforts are driving success and which efforts are contributing or supporting.
13. Feed the engines. Make your data easy and quick to interpret by the engines. Use semantic markup, schema, open graph, author tags, XML sitemaps and other formats to add to the engines’ understanding of your data and assist with crawling. Leverage Webmaster tools at Google and Bing to check in on how the engines see your data. Quickly address any flagged issues.