A growing list of new technologies and trends will join some old standbys to influence search engine rankings and generate more qualified leads and sales.
SALT LAKE CITY -- The start of 2011 didn't ring in shiny new strategies that will shock the online marketing world. However, specific tactics that emerged in 2010 will have a larger affect on the success of 2011 marketing campaigns.
"A lot of what worked in 2010 will carry over," said Nelson James, president of SEO.com. "But we are noticing a few trends that will build better links and produce more qualified leads."
SEO.com, an SEO firm, identifies the top nine strategies in 2011 (in no particular order):
1. Video Marketing
Boyd Norwood, SEO.com's director of SEO, has been doing tests on visitors that come from video sites like Youtube, Vimeo and other sites. So far, the results have been surprising.
"The conversion rate of visitors from Youtube was about 20 percent higher than from the search engines," said Boyd Norwood, director of SEO for SEO.com. "Video will continue to be big in 2011."
2. Social Impact (Ranking Factor)
2010 was the year social media marketing threw its weight around and affected search rankings. This will likely become more prevalent in the coming year. To increase rankings, SEO specialists will need to understand how to create valuable, shareable content and how to spread the word through various social sites.
"As the search engines put more emphasis on the popularity of links shared through Twitter and Facebook, social media will become a necessary tool for link building," said Nelson James, president of SEO.com
3. Blogging and Guest Blogging
Blogging continues to be an effective tool for thought leadership, link bait, and a way to leverage social media to drive website traffic and leads. Guest blogging benefits both the guest and the host. The host will get fresh content on its site while the guest blogger will received a link from the host. Both sides will be able to use each other’s resources to help share the blog and spread it online. It's a win-win for both involved.
"Guest blogging will be huge this year," said Greg Shuey, SEO.com's director of SEO. "It's a great way to obtain quality links, and to extend your network."
4. Conversion Optimization
While this is not technically part of SEO, conversion optimization, the process of turning more visitors into paying customers, will determine the success of any SEO campaign. It will become even more valuable in the coming year as more become aware of the practice that tests different designs, call to actions and other details to find what converts the most website visitors into leads and sales.
"Before, marketers were only concerned with driving more traffic and being content with their conversion rate," said Josh Summerhays, conversion optimization manager for SEO.com. "Now, some of those marketers are figuring out that it's cheaper and more effective to tweak their website to get more revenue out of the same amount of traffic."
"Conversion rate optimization will continue to be a difference maker for companies that embrace it," said Scott Miller, CEO of Vertster, a company that provides tools to help conversion optimization.
Tim Ash, author and CEO of SiteTuners.com, said in a message over Twitter: "Doing more with less is at the heart of conversion rate optimization and landing page optimization. Landing page efficiency is the new black."
5. Local Search Marketing
With 90 percent of shoppers searching Google before they head out the door, local Internet marketing and Google Maps are a must for any business trying to get people into their doors.
"Google has almost completely replaced the Yellow Pages as a place where people look for local businesses," said Lori Gilson, president of PRMarketing.com. "If you’re not on Google maps, you may as well not exist."
6. Mobile Marketing
With abundant smartphones, apps, widgets, location-based marketing through social media, discounts, coupons, QR codes, image and audio searches, and text message (SMS) marketing, mobile is poised to reach the big time. eMarketer's "2011 Marketing Trends Survey" says 35 percent of businesses worldwide plan on increasing their mobile marketing spend. Performics projects that mobile search clicks could be greater than 16 percent of all Google search clicks.
"Mobile got big last year. It will get bigger this year. And will be huge the year after," said Ash Buckles, VP of client services for SEO.com. "Search marketers will need to embrace mobile technology and make their products and websites mobile friendly."
7. Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)
This older Internet marketing strategy is still a key element of search marketing. Pay per click management creates awareness and produces qualified traffic and leads. eMarketer's survey says 41 percent of companies plan to increase both their search engine optimization and PPC spend in 2011.
"Some of the main benefits of PPC to an overall search marketing strategy is keyword research," said Todd Julien, president of PurePPC.com. "You can use PPC to help test what keywords deliver the highest quality of traffic to your site, while at the same time giving your business a boost in traffic."
8. Email Marketing
This old standby has made a strong comeback. eMarketer says 65 percent of businesses plan on increasing spending on e-mail marketing this year, which beats out the forecasted social media spend by 8 percent. Adage also reported that e-mail marketing provides a higher conversion rate than social media.
"E-mail is still a critical tool to drive leads and sales," James said. "It's still the best way to remarket to those visitors that you’ve attracted to your site from SEO and PPC."
9. Content Marketing
Content marketing (e.g. infographics, blog posts, press releases, whitepapers and articles) increases SEO through natural link building, establishes thought leadership, makes companies more interesting on social media, and drives traffic and leads.
"The future of marketing is not buying ad space," said David Scoville, creative director for PRMarketing.com. "It's in producing unique and interesting content and stories that attracts visitors and builds your brand. Companies must become journalists and storytellers."
SEO.com is a SEO firm that delivers a big ROI for its clients by driving traffic to their websites through aggressive search engine optimization services, pay per click management, and social media marketing. SEO.com then turns those visitors into sales through user-friendly design and conversion optimization. Clients range from small startups to Fortune 100 companies.