We see them every year; articles that advise people on how to improve their digital marketing strategy going into the new year.
The problem with most of these articles is that the tips aren’t relevant for the new year. Instead, the year’s subject is simply tossed into the title with the attempt to make it sound new, exciting and more promising.
In other words, the tips expressed are just as relevant going into the new year, as they were 11 months prior.
This article is different.
Here, we will look at changes that occurred in 2018, and how to improve your digital marketing strategy going into the new year based on actual changes that require an agile approach to improving and maintaining growth.
What to Focus on that’s Relevant to Changes in 2018
When going over the vital changes that took place in 2018, it’s important to understand how they impact the things your business growth relies on. Typically, this means your customers, products, services, pricing, and competition.
As technology advances, buying behavior and trends change. In addition, there are many cases in which the way products and services are sourced and used changes. With innovations it is also common to see competitors invest in new marketing strategies or adjust their pricing to better reflect predicted growth patterns.
When looking at market, industry and technology changes, ask yourself how these impact the components of your company’s ability to grow, and seek a growth-driven digital marketing agency capable of evolving the right strategy to help you achieve your goals.
Google’s 2018 Updates and What They Mean for 2019
Google purposely doesn’t reveal much about their algorithm or its updates. However, the search engine has told us it makes between 500 and 600 updates every year, with a select few having noticeable effects on ranking.
According to Moz, 2018 has seen 12 noticeable Google updates (the search engine confirmed nine of these).
On March 7 Google confirmed a “core” update that resulted in ranking spikes and drops for roughly two weeks. Known as the “Brackets”, rankings took dramatic shifts, and according to our own internal data, those who saw rankings increase have remained fairly consistent in maintaining high visibility.
Another update worth noticing was the Mobile-First Index Roll-Out. The index had been in a testing hold for several months with hints from Google that they were gradually migrating sites.
Our agency studied indexation data with some telling results. Of the client’s sites who were built to meet Google’s current Best Practices for mobile and that was fetched and indexed for mobile display, 100 percent saw an increase in rankings and organic traffic.
Then there were a number of “core” updates with one that had a significant impact on ranking. In August Google confirmed a “broad core algorithm update” with vast reports of massive ranking and engagement impacts.
The update seemed to have the biggest impact on websites specific to the wellness and health vertical, but there was large-scale impact across multiple industries.
Here’s what Google’s 2018 updates summarize and forecast for the new year to come: the search engine continues to award websites that produce content matching search intention, and sites that provide a user-friendly experience on mobile devices.
More People Use Mobile Devices, and Google has Taken Notice
In 2018 there were two updates that we know of that directly reward websites who index their pages for mobile, provide a great user experience, and with this comes a quick load speed.
Unless you are in a niche market and have data proving your customers don’t search for your products or services on mobile devices, you had best make your site mobile friendly for 2019 to give your customers an enjoyable experience.
According to Blue Corona in 2018 52.2% of the world’s online traffic was generated through mobile devices, which is in increase from the previous year at 50.3%.
This means that going into 2019 you will need to do the following:
• Optimize for mobile SEO first
• Exclude tablets from mobile devices (smartphones only)
• Use separate URLs
• Use dynamic serving
• Make sure site has a responsive design
• Don’t use large files with long load times
• Use Google’s Mobile Usability Test
Google puts tablets in their own class and have stated that they do not belong in the definition of “mobile devices”. So going into 2019 your focus should be on mobile phone users.
But this does not mean you should ignore desktop users. Although mobile usage will only continue to grow, desktop will always be relative, especially for peak times of the day for certain industries.
A good digital marketing strategy going into 2019 would be to invest in a Growth Stack that has an SEO arm where landing pages for specific desktop users that is buyer-focused and based on products, services and geographic areas can improve overall rankings and engagement.
Your Website’s Content
We are clearly entering the year of the buyer, and all content must be written for your customers and not for your brand. Stop writing about yourself, and write for the people you are trying to attract and convert.
We know that Google’s AI and machine learning core algorithm continues to evolve, and it made some big changes in 2018. It only makes sense to create content that appeases Google RankBrain while simultaneously delighting buyers.
Creating a blog under the topic cluster model will prove to be the core to effective content marketing strategies in 2019. This is where a cluster of blogs exist under one main category, yet each has a unique topic, title and context.
These internally link to others with similar topics, and each additionally links out to a pillar page (the homepage or primary product page).
As for the content on your homepage and main product pages, it should be written for your buyers with SEO considerations – a complex strategy best performed by growth marketing agencies with the necessary tools, teams and strategies.