As the new year is about to get started, now is a great time to analyse your current situation, clarify your business objectives and define your marketing strategy for the coming year.
1. Undertake A Thorough Website Back-link Audit
In Google’s continuing fight against webspam, your website’s back-link profile has become increasingly important.
It is better to have only a handful of links form reputable, high authority websites than it is to have a high number from low authority sites. If a low authority website links to your site, particularly one which is not relevant to your theme, this can be damaging.
These kind of back-links are often referred to as a ‘bad’ or ‘toxic’, and the first step to removing these toxic links is to find out which sites are linking to you. You can do this easily through Google Webmaster Tools, but it is a largely manual process that will take time to complete, and be cautious of paid software claiming to detox your back-links for you as they aren’t always successful.
Search Engine Watch provides more detailed information on How to Conduct a Link Audit.
2. Develop Your Social Media Strategy
It’s no longer enough to simply be on social media. Now is the time take a good look at the social networks you are using and ask yourself why you are there and what is it that you want to achieve.
Don’t continue blindly posting, with no guiding content strategy and no idea if what you are doing is actually having any measurable effect. Random, sporadic posts won’t help you build a community with value to your business. Likewise, running endless share / like to win competitions is unlikely to be do you any favours. Sure you’ll be growing followers, but numbers matter less than quality.
2014 is all about getting smart with social media and using tactics that will help you grow communities that are full of potential leads and existing customers, not just people following you only because they wanted to win something and just haven’t gotten round to unfollowing you yet.
Before you can define your social media strategy, you need to know and understand your target audience and you also need to have a clear understanding of your brand and your unique USPs. You can then begin to attract and engage by creating original brand-relevant content.
Check out Social Media Strategy in 8 Steps from Jay Baer.
3. Optimise Your Website For Conversions
If you aren’t already tracking conversions through Google Analytics you will first need to set up some goals. A goal is a desirable action, for example, filling in a contact or quote form or completing a purchase. If your website isn’t converting, then it’s not doing what it should be and can’t possibly be providing you with a good ROI.
Conversion rates vary by industry, but if your site is not generating the business you want it to, conversion optimisation is one area to look at. Thoroughly re-assess your website from a visitor’s point of view, looking at the user experience in minute detail.
Start with first impressions, from landing on your homepage for the first time right through to the speed and ease of completing the ordering or enquiry process. Look at the websites of your competitors and figure out what they are doing better than you.
Websites will always benefit from ongoing attention, and both content and processes should be continually refined to enable you to generate the maximum possible return from your website.
4. Define Social Media Metrics & Measure Your Success
Statistics lead to insights and tracking the right ones will enable you to figure out which activities are working and help you identify those that need attention.
The metrics you use will largely be determined by what your objectives are. However, for most businesses it’s a pretty safe bet that your motivation for being on social media is to grow brand awareness, nurture and maintain relationships and to drive positive sentiment and trust.
With these kinds of objectives in mind, tracking the size of your communities by looking only at the number of followers you have, isn’t really helpful. Figure out what’s really important and define ‘success metrics’. These might look at engagement (how many people are actively interacting with you on any given social network), website traffic referrals and perhaps most importantly, the amount of social media conversions you are generating.
5. Grow Your Email Marketing List
Email marketing is still arguably the most effective method of marketing available to website owners. Consider this; whilst a typical banner advert click through rate will often be well below 1%, email marketing generates a much higher CTR – 20% is easily achieved and in our experience, is usually higher.
Effective use of email marketing will drive sales by tempting people to impulse buy and by moving forward planned purchases. Clever email marketing campaigns can also effectively increase average order values and ensure strong levels of customer loyalty. The beauty of an email list is that it is made up of customers or people who have already expressed an interest in your products or services and as such will be more receptive to your messaging.
When you create an email campaign you are then able to deliver it directly to an audience full of qualified leads who have a high chance of converting. If you don’t already have a newsletter signup on your website and if you don’t already collect the email addresses of all your customers then you need to start doing so right away.
Read more in the article 11 Reasons To use Email Marketing.
6. Get Found in Local Search
With big brands being given increased prominence, even in organic search results, local search opportunities provide website owners with much needed visibility in Google. Map driven local search results are already extensively utilised by Google, and so you are going to want to ensure that anyone in the local area who is searching for your goods or services, will be able to easily find you.
Google claims that 20% of searches are related to locations, and in 2014 it is crucial that your business has both Google and Bing optimised business listings. Having a Google+ Local Listing is an absolute must, also making use of Micro Data (discussed in more detail in resolution 8 below) helps to give Google even clearer signals that demonstrate the relationship between your products and services, and your geographical location.
Read more about local search in the eConsultancy article, Local SEO: tips on improving your visibility.
Part 2 is coming soon and provides 6 more New Year Resolutions for your website.