I suppose it’s coincidence that this post appears almost exactly one year after Blue Bugle went sort of inactive. Today, the blog doesn’t enjoy as many readers as it once used to. This unfortunate thing is due to my hectic schedule in my new day job as senior content writer for an organization called MSys. This job gives me more opportunities to explore the separate aspects of the digital marketing domain. In the past, all we used to do was promoting our blog posts through social media at random thereby trying to gather as many visitors as possible. You never studied the prospects, the market, or the social channels you promote your stuff to. Most of the SEO companies out there prided themselves in creating spammy blog comments to create links to client websites. Needless to say, most of these plans never worked or had less positive impact. Now, if you follow the same spammy activities, you are sure to get a ban at best.
I had to come up with a new marketing plan for MSys that incorporated careful study of the market, ways to approach customers in a more efficient manner, ways to promote our site on search engines, and ways to promote our stuff to social media. This plan involved several steps, and it somehow taught me new ways to become effective in search engines and social media. This post is an afterthought of this marketing plan.
Let’s take a brief look at how digital marketing emerged in the last decade. This is essentially a brief history of SEO and SMO too. First of all, the basis of digital marketing is a website. Today, a company cannot survive without a website, can it? Even small-time bloggers like us have prolific websites; so, a company does indeed need a website. It has to be properly designed for clients to get an idea of what the company is into.
In the ‘90s and the first part of the last decade, you simply cannot find really good-looking websites unless they belong to the biggies. Go to the Internet Archive (archive.org) and look at some of the websites they had back then. I wanted to see the transition, so I took a look at a really well designed modern website and went back to the beginning of the millennium to see how it used to be. Here’s it. I am sure everybody would agree Apple has a really good-looking website. Here is its site back in 2000—Feb 26 to be exact (the date is visible right above that hot news ticker).
See how awkward the website used to be back then. It’s quite apparent that the design standards have changed drastically in the last few years. Today, the most important part of web design is responsiveness. The main reason why a website has to be responsive is because it gets viewed on all kinds of devices today. One of your customers views your website on his iPhone, while another group views it on a tab twice the size, like the iPad. A website has to scale up properly to display without anomalies on all kinds of devices. It is one of the primary requirements of digital marketing today.
It’s also important that the website be rich with content, multimedia elements, and interactivity. Interactivity is one aspect that the web has quite evolved on. Technologies such as JSON, Java, and Python have been behind those buttons, text boxes, and tabs.
The point is, such unprofessional, ad-studded websites could work back then, but they no longer can. Professional websites look cleaner and simpler today, and most of the startups have such long, filling landing pages, which are such a pleasure to look at. They also load faster. So, the first thing of digital marketing: you need a website that conforms to the best professional standards today. It also has to be properly updated based on the changes in industry standards.
Social Media Presence
Before we check about the search engine optimization part, let’s check out the social media. It has recently become the most important aspect of digital marketing. Back in 2000, do you know which social networks were popular? Probably the first ever social network was Friends Reunited, which started operations in 1998 in the UK. Then in 2000, another social network started operations; you may have heard about it—Friendster. Friendster is the precursor to all these other social networks—MySpace, Orkut, and Facebook. In 2003, briefly MySpace became the most popular social network in the world, and it stayed so until Facebook surpassed all social networks by 2007.
Then the refinement of social media happened, which proved to be a very useful thing for digital marketers. For instance, instead of having three social networks—Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook—for the same thing, we have only one that caters to all needs. And Facebook is far more feature-rich than it used to be. It’s also being developed continuously. Twitter came then, and it soon became the social network for celebrities.
Then it was time for social networks for specific purposes: LinkedIn branded itself as a professional network; while you could share any stuff on LinkedIn, this branding somehow forced professionals to share professional stuff on LinkedIn. Then Google+ became the social network of choice for all sorts of businesses and online content creators. Google Authorship is something you need to read and research about. There are also specialized social networks such as GitHub for programmers and DeviantArt for artists. As a first step of popularizing yourself on social media, identify all the social networks where you can make a presence for your company, and then start working to create a stable presence.
For digital marketing, content is the most important aspect, is it not? Creating and sharing useful content may be a difficult thing for a small organization with one or two content writers. How can then such an organization excel in content marketing?
One way is analyzing the requirements. Why do you do content marketing? For most marketers, it is to generate more social followers and website traffic. Now, you simply ask the question. What sort of content is especially important to gather followers? The simple formula is analyzing your potential clients and their requirements. In case of my company, the clients are looking for a vendor in storage and cloud sectors. We simply have to identify those clients and share some content already published by them through our social channels. These activities should prompt those companies to follow us. Another aspect that will help you directly network with the decision makers of any company is sharing the content published by the decision makers through your social channels. Also, try to come up with conversations with these people—constructive criticisms may be one way to go.
By sharing others’ content, you have two major benefits: you keep your social media profiles rich with content; you gather interest from the actual content creators, prompting them to follow you. This, however, doesn’t create any traffic advantage to your own site, so it has to be done sparingly and with careful planning. In general, it goes without saying that every piece of content that you create on your website has to be properly shared on your social profiles.
When you create content, give maximum care. There is a way to come up with unique content. It’s research. Unique content is the staple food of digital marketing. Even today, article marketers are creating thin content by copying or rewriting content from other websites. This practice will only get you in the radar of the search giant. So, refrain from this. The recipe of creating unique content is research and asking the right questions. Come up with a unique topic and a unique perspective on that topic. This will give you the incentive to write well. Also important are the grammar, punctuation, and style of your writing. Present your articles with multimedia and interactive elements on a well-designed, approachable website. This is the key to successful content marketing.
Today, mobile marketing has to be smarter after smartphones surpassed feature phones. There is a large number of mobile marketing tools you can find. Android and iOS devices are with millions of people—millions of prospective customers. Simply speaking, mobile marketing is one of the cornerstones of success today. Identify the best tools you can use for your marketing requirements. A few of them include Swipely, MailChimp, Yelp, Foursquare, etc. You also have the capability to target your potential users through social media apps for these mobile platforms. You need a full-fledged plan to target the smartphone users better.
Now, SEO is one of the most important aspects of digital marketing. Every website is planned and built to make it rank high on Google. There are a number of on-page and off-page factors that you do to make a website relevant for a search query. This post doesn’t go into the details of these aspects. Only one thing is important when it comes to SEO. Look at your website and ponder whether it’s the best website for a search query that you are targeting. Every time a person searches for a particular keyword, a few websites come up on the first page of Google. Most of these pages provide maximum information and relevant content to the searcher. When this happens, the searcher is likely to stay longer on the website, check out other pages, and share the content on social media. These activities can be facilitated by improving three major aspects of your website: the loading time, the content structure, and the design.
In SEO as well as paid search marketing, you have to present a well-designed, content-rich website, because otherwise Google will never let your site rank on its search. Some people may think they can come up with a spammy website and pay Google to rank it on paid search results. It’s simply not going to happen, because for paid search also, Google has a number of content and structure guidelines which must be followed.
It’s easy to do digital marketing if you follow three important principles: provide value, do not spam ever, look at your work from your prospective customer’s perspective. The third rule of thumb will give you a huge number of opportunities to improve your online presence. The design aspects, social media content, descriptions, keywords, etc., can be tweaked much better in this way.