11 Off-Page SEO Tactics That Still Matter in 2021

Imagine your website is a home – a nice bungalow.

Your on-page SEO is the foundation, structure, and all your mid-century modern décor. Your on-page SEO ensures your website has everything perfectly fitted to support website visitors and inhabitants.

See where are going with this?

Well, your off-page SEO includes everything that links to your on-page SEO, your home. And off-page SEO links to the rest of your neighborhood and the world beyond: the driveway, sidewalks, side roads, highways, and even the vehicles.

Just like you couldn’t drive up to your home efficiently without a road, no one can find your website without off-page SEO.

And I mean no one: No organic search traffic. No backlink referrals. Even Google bots can’t understand your brand’s expertise and trustworthiness without strategic off-site SEO.

SEMrush gives us a nice rundown of what qualifies as on-site, off-site, and technical SEO:

on-page off page technical seo
SEMrush

Unlike technical SEO, there’s no solution to off-page SEO with mass appeal. Both your off-page and on-page tactics depend on your brand’s expertise and where you need to reach your audience.

Once you start building the neighborhood roads linking your house to others, Google can study your home’s location related to the world around you.

Why Does Off-Page SEO Still Matter?

Your website’s off-page SEO health is critical for several reasons:

  • It tells Google other sites trust you enough to link your page or mention your brand.
  • Links from off-page SEO can drive targeted traffic to your website – also boosting on-page SEO.
  • Google can understand your topic expertise based on which sites link your pages.
  • Certain off-page tactics can increase positive awareness surrounding your brand.
  • Healthy off-page SEO tells you that people enjoy your content enough to share and link to it.

The off-page SEO tactics reputable marketers use today don’t involve the shady stuff you may remember from the earlier days of the internet: spam comment links and forum spam, anyone?

In fact, off-page SEO matters so much to Google for judging your credibility, authority, and expertise that backlink spam was one of the first things Google worked to ban.

11 Off-Page SEO Tactics You Still Need in 2021 for Brand Building and Organic Traffic

Don’t be fooled by the simple nature of many off-site SEO tactics here – especially surrounding link building. What good are 10k links pointing to your fitness homepage if the referring website sells pizza?

That’s where healthy off-page SEO gets a little tricky. You want the good websites pointing to yours while avoiding the bad ones. What makes a linking domain good or bad? It depends.

Moz developed the Domain Authority score to help us figure it out broadly:

google domain authority
Moz

You definitely wouldn’t want thousands of shady websites with a 20 Domain Authority linking to your yours. But it’s not always so clear-cut with niche industry websites or journals which may have a mid-range DA.

Use these tactics to figure out your website’s ideal off-page SEO strategy.

1. See What Off-Site SEO Tactics Work and Don’t Work for Competitors

Got SEO envy? Run a competitive analysis on BuzzSumo to see which backlinks point to your competition’s website. Consider reaching out to the best (and most relevant) ones for submissions, content sharing, or media partnerships like podcasts.

2. Take Notes from Off-Site SEO Tactics of Top-Performing Pages

SEMrush excels in keyword data and engagement analytics, making it ideal for studying off-site SEO of top performers across your industry. You’ll probably notice top pages actively tell Google what they don’t want associated with their page:

  • Disavowing low-quality backlinks
  • Using no-follow links for low-authority sources

backlink analysis tool SEMrush

3. Poach Broken Backlinks from Competitors

Take note of any broken links during your top performer analysis. Provided your content is relevant enough to replace the competitor’s link, there’s no shame here.

Plus, Google’s looming Core Web Vitals update for digital experience adds some urgency to fixing the broken link issue.

4. Build Natural Links with Valuable Content

The natural high-quality backlinks you need for off-site SEO only come from valuable high-quality content. Follow Google’s EAT in everything you publish:

  • Choose a question/pain point within your expertise.
  • Write from a position of authority on the subject with quality sources.
  • Offer a trustworthy solution that improves lives.

5. Find Relevant High-Authority Sites in Your Expertise for Link Building

Did you dig up some interesting industry sites during your analyses in BuzzSumo or SEMrush? Make sure they prioritize EAT in their content and check their backlink profile for any red flags.

Pick a relevant blog from your site that matches the EAT and general topic of one from theirs. Reach out to their team to ask about link sharing (sweeten the deal).

6. Create an Internal Link Building Strategy

Don’t toss random internal links into your content – keep your house organized! Google bots use them to understand what’s important and how your topics fit together under your expertise.

Plan your internal links as you outline each blog, choosing a relevant internal link for the copy under each subhead – but only if it’s relevant.

7. Take Your SEO Offline and into the Community

When you run a local business, your off-site SEO should connect you with other local business websites in your neighborhood – both virtual and physical.

Make sure to offer something valuable such as:

  • Local events or workshops
  • Sponsorships
  • Loyalty programs
  • Internships
  • Contests or game days

8. Create Unique Info-graphics and Optimize for Linking, Sharing, and Visual Search

With visual search capabilities rising, you can’t go wrong investing in info-graphics. Make sure you choose a completely unique idea for each one – and watermark it in the center!

Optimize the meta description and ALT with relevant keywords so your info-graphic is ready for discovery and off-site SEO linking.

9. Jump into Your Brand Mentions

Tools like SEMrush make it almost too easy to see where and when someone mentions your brand online – anywhere.

Set up alerts for your brand and jump into productive conversations to boost off-site SEO: comment sections, subreddits, social media, and more.

10. Subscribe to HARO and Reach Out Whenever You Can

Help a Reporter Out is an off-site SEO double-whammy.

Set up your account to receive daily emails in your industry from journalists seeking quotes. Try to choose highly relevant or authoritative publishers for off-site SEO linking.

Best of all, you might build a connection to reach the editorial staff for your own pitches.

HARO Connect
HARO

11. Keep Up the Social Sharing

Google won’t admit that social engagement matters for off-site SEO but referral traffic from a high-authority domain like Facebook certainly does. And soon, comprehensive digital experiences will too.

Use APIs to link your social media accounts with your website for embedded feeds so Google can “see” the on-site/off-site connection.

Sick of Being Your Own SEO Consultant?

Off-page SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s really a matter of figuring out what websites, apps, and touchpoints you want referring visitors to your website and influencing your brand’s reputation in the eyes of Google.

Complicated? Not necessarily. Time-consuming and tedious? Absolutely – especially if you want effective off-site SEO driving consistent targeted traffic and sustainable search rankings. And don’t forget everything involved with on-page SEO and technical SEO too.

When you’re ready to level-up your SEO, our Austin SEO company consultants have your back with the time and expertise to deliver a personalized long-term SEO strategy.

What annoys you the most about SEO? Book a free 30-minute consultation and let’s vent – no obligation.

19 Digital Marketing Trends and Predictions to Stay Ahead in 2021

2021 is here and most of us face a completely different reality than we did one year ago.

Your audience does too. Their financial situation, expectations, and material conditions have all changed drastically over the past year.

Speaking of change, chances are that your digital marketing strategy for 2021 could use a revamp. Moving into 2021, here’s what we know about customer expectations and what you can do to keep up with demands.

19 Digital Marketing Trends and Predictions to Stay Ahead of the Competition in 2021

The average person spends 37 minutes online on a desktop and 155 minutes online via mobile devices each day – amounting to nearly 3.25 hours total each day.

You should assume your audience is:

  • Reading blogs
  • Watching videos
  • Browsing graphics
  • Chatting in groups

The key is to figure out where your audience is and what kind of content they want. These digital marketing trends and strategies are vital for getting there in 2021.

1. Emphasis on Core Web Vitals

Starting in May, Google will look at your website’s user experience when it judges where to place you in search results. Metrics called Core Web Vitals will set the standard here.

core web vitals seo

Specifically, you’ll want to prioritize:

  • Page load time
  • Interactivity (like buttons over hyperlinks)
  • Layout and visual flow
  • Security and safe browsing (HTTPS, malware scanning, data privacy, etc.)

2. Greater Demand for Transparency and Trust

Knowing who to trust online isn’t always simple. People are bombarded with low-quality or downright fraudulent products via Facebook ads, for example:

transparency trust digital marketing

Radical transparency can get you far. Consider things like:

  • Beefing up reviews on your site and third-party sites like Google
  • Sharing a clear return policy and guarantee
  • Responding to negative reviews professionally
  • Managing profiles on sites like Trustpilot
  • Sharing your story and who you are via your About page

3. Voice Search Dominates

According to Gartner, an estimated 30% of all web browsing sessions happen without ever interacting with a screen. That means voice search matters.

Voice searches are longer and mimic natural language more than what you’d normally type into the search bar. Optimize for voice search by including long-tail questions as subheadings in your blogs and providing concise answers immediately.

Plus, this strategy will help you optimize for Google snippets as well.

4. Organic and Local SEO Still Matter

53% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and 68% of them plan to keep up the habit after the restrictions end.

Well, people use local SEO and organic search to find businesses in their area.

Optimize your local listings in Google Business, Bing Places, and map apps. Keep your hours up to date and encourage reviews. Consistent reviews can push you to the top of results.

5. Content Marketing and Strategy Aren’t Going Anywhere

Comprehensive content marketing shows customers why they should trust you. It demonstrates your industry authority and knowledge.

Consistent high-quality content also tells Google that you’re tapped into your industry’s current events and worth showing up in the search results.

The keyword here is “high-quality” though which translates to:

  • Long-form (1,500+ words) content that answers questions thoroughly
  • Well-researched, citing statistics and based on the latest info
  • Detailed subheadings to expand on details

6 Prioritize Conversational Marketing

82% of customers expect an immediate response from your brand when they reach out – wherever they reach out. Make sure you have a chatbot set up for DMs on platforms like Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and WhatsApp.

Tools like Twilio can help you add machine learning to your chatbot on any platform and keep conversations centralized in one dashboard. Plus, chatbots help you collect data.

If you can’t staff a live chat or manage a chatbot somewhere, turn the messaging feature off. It’s better to direct a customer elsewhere than let their message go unanswered.

7. Videos and Visual Content Beat Out Written Content

92% of marketers say video is a critical part of their digital marketing strategy. Look at it this way, YouTube is the second-largest search engine and people watch over one-billion hours of content there each day.

Skip the promotional stuff. Keep your video content human, casual, and entertainment-based. Pick an audience interest and run with it.

Patagonia does video particularly well with their nature and environment documentaries:

video content marketing

YouTube

Mailchimp also has a video series about entrepreneurs who made major career changes called Second Act:
video content mailchimp

YouTube

8. Virtual Events Sticking Around for the Long-Haul

Virtual events are here to stay but they could use some optimization. Audio-based apps like Clubhouse and Telegram’s group voice chats help take events to another level.

voice events

Telegram

Focus more on the community and less on the marketing. What can attendees gain from your event?

9. Focus on AR for Digital Engagement

Direct-to-consumer e-commerce brands were the first to understand the importance of AR in digital marketing for engagement and sales.

The shift online during the pandemic restrictions heightened the need for AR and VR as well.

Don’t shove augmented reality into your marketing where it doesn’t make sense. Look for areas where AR could enhance the experience.

Zenni Optical lets customers upload a video so they can try on as many frames as they like virtually:

AR digital engagement
Zenni Optical

10. Brand Equity and First-Party Relationships

What emotions do people feel when they think of your brand? What type of experience do you provide on your site and social media?

The digital space is more cluttered than ever. Brands must prioritize their overall experience and how they connect with individuals.

This could mean sending personalized blog recommendations via email, custom questions in chats, or gamified web experiences. Whatever you do, make your brand memorable offline.

11. Advancements in Analytics

Google Analytics constantly rolls out features to stay competitive. Today, the all-new GA4 looks more like a complete business intelligence tool or CRM than just website analytics.

It’s all about data integration. You can sync data from not only your site but third-party tools like apps to build a better picture of your customers.

google analytics new reporting
Google

Stay on top of your analytics to prevent churn and meet your customers halfway.

12. More Social Commerce and Shopping Features

Social media apps want to keep users on the platform. They also want to make their apps a friendly place for businesses.

In-app shopping features are the compromise.

Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest all offer shopping where your customers can complete an entire purchase without ever leaving the app.

See how Sony uses Instagram Shopping to promote its latest products:

 

instagram shopping
Instagram

Make sure you have your app store optimized to promote the latest products and accept digital payments.

13. Optimize Backend and Frontend with Automation and AI

Automation and AI can help you:

  • Send triggered customer journey emails
  • Understand customer behavior
  • Personalize website content, like Netflix or Spotify
  • Schedule social media
  • Track mentions and brand reputation

As you can see, AI and automation work on two levels: Improving the experience for your customers and making your life easier. Don’t brush it off. Look for ways to make AI work for you.

14. Care More About Customer Retention

You aren’t just competing with other brands in your industry for attention – you’re also competing against the entire internet.

What’s your strategy to ensure your visitors return month-to-month and your customers come back?

E-commerce brands can set up auto-ship features for consumable products like pet supplies, personal care, and foodstuff.

If you don’t sell consumables, you’ll need a different digital marketing strategy. Give people a reason to visit your site that has nothing to do with buying products.

15. User-Generated Content Turbocharges Your Effort

User-generated content is important for keeping your audience engaged online. The trick is to pick UGC campaigns that don’t revolve around your products but include your brand.

Think about the lifestyle behind your audience segments. Do they bake bread? Hike? Fish? Watch sports? Make art?

People always love showing off their creations and accomplishments. Launch your UGC with a branded actionable hashtag like #BakingWithBrand and ask users to tell a story. Share the best ones to your page with a shoutout.

16. Admit the World is Digital-First

Assume existing customers and future leads will “meet” your brand through digital channels – like a Google search, Google Maps, or social media.

If someone only saw your Yelp profile, what impression would that give them about your brand? If someone randomly finds your blog through Google, does your site answer every question they could possibly have about what you do within a few clicks?

Your website is your digital storefront and business card, as are your social media profiles and profiles on third-party sites like Yelp.

This local business has a nice, optimized Instagram page that answers every question someone could have:

digital first instagram
Instagram

17. Increase Spending on Digital Tactics

Plenty of brands scaled back their digital marketing spending in response to COVID.

While caution is smart in some cases, it’s hard not to wonder where some small businesses no longer with us would be today had they gone all-in on digital tactics instead.

Ignoring digital marketing just means you’re letting your competition and the Big Guys eat up all the traffic (and sales). And with major companies like Walmart and Target beefing up their e-commerce, small and mid-size brands literally can’t afford mediocre digital marketing strategies.

18. Diversify Your Content Delivery

If your content isn’t delivering the traffic you’d like, rethink how you’re delivering it to the world. Can you:

  • Expand to different, less cluttered, social media platforms like Pinterest or Telegram?
  • Send personalized emails with relevant videos and blog posts?
  • Add an AI engine to your site to offer personalized content recommendations?
  • Share in niche forums on Reddit?

Don’t just publish it, share it on Facebook, and hope the right people will find it. Go to where your audience hangs out and show it to them.

19. Audit and Refresh Old Content

Auditing and refreshing old content can give your rankings a boost site-wide and save you tons of time.

Start with your best-performing timeless content – especially if rankings and traffic have dropped. Update your headings, statistics, and links while expanding the copy based on any current events or changes.

Repurpose your content too. Transform popular blogs into infographics, videos, interviews with subject matter experts, Stories, and Instagram Reels. Use each point from popular listicles to create its own blog post and link back.

Don’t Wait to Fall Behind – Maximize Your 2021 Digital Marketing Now

Don’t wait for your sales to drop or your audience to dry up before you adjust your digital marketing strategy. Keep an eye on other brands in your industry to stay competitive. Constantly research your audience to stay tapped into their interests. Try to stay two steps ahead.

Countless B2B and B2C brands trust our team at JS-Interactive with their most important digital strategies, SEO, and content. Check out our portfolio to see who we’ve helped and the results they enjoy.

 

 

Your 21-Point WordPress SEO Checklist for Traffic in 2021

Is your website set up for success in 2021?

This may sound cliché, but search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical component of every successful marketing strategy.

Don’t believe me?

Less than 3% of US searchers click on paid ads in the Google results.

With over 40,000 search queries happening every second, you need an organic SEO strategy to capitalize on that valuable traffic at every stage of the funnel.

Unlike PPC ads and social media traffic, people who arrive at your website from organic searches will often stay on your page longer and visit more pages during their visit.

Look at the difference in bounce rates for this news and analysis WordPress website (an industry with notoriously high bounce rates):

high bounce rates organic

Or how about for this reputable sports facility in Wisconsin:

low bounce organic search

That’s a staggering difference!

Successful WordPress SEO isn’t a one-time job. It requires ongoing attention, adjustments, and updates.

With so much riding on successful online visibility and digital marketing today, SEO isn’t something you can ignore either. For local businesses in Austin, SEO is especially important for replacing lost foot traffic and sales due to local shutdowns.

Your 21-Point WordPress SEO Checklist for Traffic in 2021

Your goal for SEO should be sustainability—not quick bursts in traffic and rankings. Ideally, your brand’s SEO should gradually improve over time as you prove yourself to Google’s algorithms and users.

WordPress SEO isn’t magic or mystical, but it does require in-depth attention, if only because so many elements are involved–and nothing is set in stone. Use this checklist to make sure the SEO for your website is set up for success in 2021:

1. Speed Up Your Website

Speed is everything. With 5G service and high-speed internet penetration expanding, you can’t expect visitors to put up with slow load times.

How fast? Three seconds was the golden standard for a while, but aim for less than two, if possible. We have a whole blog dedicated to tips for speeding up your site.

2. Use the Best Hosting Provider

A dedicated hosting provider is absolutely essential for long-term SEO success. You just can’t develop consistent winning rankings when you share a server.

We recommend JS-Interactive clients use either WPEngine or Kinsta due to their reliability and versatility.

3. Install a WordPress SEO-Friendly Theme

Your theme provides a foundation for successful WordPress SEO (or lack thereof). Watch out for themes with built-in or mandatory plugins that can drag down your load times.

Choose themes like Astra themes for clients because they’re lightweight (under 50KB), update automatically, and include SEO-friendly customizer plugins like Elementor.

4. Pick the Right WordPress SEO Plugin

A WordPress SEO plugin won’t optimize for you, but it does simplify the process, provide reminders, and include valuable metadata tools.

After years of using Yoast (the go-to SEO plugin), SEOPress has grown on me. Unlike Yoast, SEOPress is an all-in-one tool offering schema, breadcrumbs, local SEO for my Austin clients, backlinks, and much more.

5. Optimize Images for Speed and WordPress SEO

Looking for a quick WordPress SEO improvement? Optimize your images!

  • Keyword-rich ALT descriptions
  • Relevant titles
  • Compressed sizes
  • Lazy loading
  • Use WebP Images

You face less competition in the image search tab when optimized for SEO.

Some of my preferred tools for compression and lazy loading include Imagify or Short Pixel. These secure plugins are easy to configure and won’t screw up your image quality.

6. Use Schema Markups

Schema or structured data markup tells Google to display additional important pieces of info next to your website in the search results. Details could include important landing pages, reviews, products, recipes, events, and more.

Google offers a useful tool for adding structured data. However, I recommend using the premium version of WP Schema because you can automate and optimize the process instantly.

7. Implement Caching

Caching speeds up your site by preloading the heavier parts of your site—like images—to reduce server requests.

Simple speed improvements like this go a long way towards improving the long-term WordPress SEO of your Austin site, whether you want to reach a local or global audience.

I prefer WP Rocket because it’s user-friendly and charges an affordable annual rate. Totally worth it.

8. Clean Up Your WordPress Database

Over time, your website creates duplicate product pages, extra tables, clunky code, leftover plugin code, CSS, and all kinds of junk that can hurt SEO.

It’s important to set a staging environment first, before using tools like WP Optimize. And I would advise you to proceed with caution with consistent testing to avoid breaking your site.

9. Be Selective with Plugins

Low-quality or outdated plugins may impact loading due to excessive usage of scripts to provide your website with its needed functi0nality. This will drag down your site’s speed and SEO with it. Plus, outdated plugins are major loopholes for hackers.

Only install plugins from reputable creators. Ensure authors are up-to-date with the releases of their plugins.

reputable plugin wordpress

 

Make sure you turn on auto-updates for plugins that are developed by trusted authors to help keep your website secure.  Delete the ones you don’t use—you can always reinstall them again.

10. Use Accelerated Mobile Pages for Blogs

AMPs are specially optimized to load faster and cleaner on mobile devices. With Google prioritizing mobile browsing experiences, AMPs are ideal for brands publishing regular blogs because they can help you maximize the WordPress SEO on your site.

11. Don’t Neglect Other Search Engines

Bing optimization is especially important for SEO if you run a local business because its map app favors small businesses.

Apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor partner with Bing, so make sure you set up an account with Bing and submit a sitemap. For an international audience, consider search engines like Yandex and Baidu as well.

12. Optimize for Voice Searches

More people add voice-activated devices to their home every day. 72% of people who own voice-activated speakers say they use their device as part of their daily routine.

Voice searches often involve long-tail questions and conversational search. People don’t blurt out, “Hey Google, Austin temperature.” It’s more often like, “what will the weather be like this afternoon?”

A simple way to optimize for voice search is with question-based subheadings and short, concise straightforward answers. An FAQ page may be a great way to purue this.

13. Revamp Your Keyword Research for WordPress SEO

First, understand there are 3 basic types of search queries. Search queries are either:

  1. Informational: used when information on a specific topic or subject matter is needed.
  2. Navigational: entered with the intent to find a website or web page.
  3. Transactional: indicated by a user’s intent to complete a transaction, such as making a purchase.

You always want to optimize your WordPress SEO for branded keywords. Informational keywords are ideal for blogs and media content. Meanwhile, transactional keywords include words like “buy,” so use them to target folks at the end of the funnel (like your product pages).

14. Take Your Local SEO Seriously

The pandemic has driven a trend towards local shopping. 82% of shoppers say they’re willing to pay more money if it means they can support a local business over a corporation.

Optimize your local Austin SEO listings on every website you can: Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, Groupon, etc. Don’t neglect reviews. Online shoppers trust online reviews, and a few positive reviews can bump you above competitors in the map results.

15. Improve Your Core Web Vitals

Google will consider page experience in rankings for the first time in 2021. To stay ahead with your WordPress SEO, get your core web vitals straight by considering the following:

  • Load time for your main content
  • Interactivity
  • Visual stability
  • HTTPS and Safe Browsing
  • Mobile-friendliness

improve web core vitals

Google is making a greater effort to consider how feal-life users interact with your website, so improving your core web vitals will be essential for SEO success.

16. Clean Up Your Site With Technical SEO

Technical SEO makes your website easier for Google’s bots to understand and crawl whenever someone types a relevant query into the search bar. When optimizing your website’s Technical SEO, you’ll want to consider factors like:

  • Metadata, Titles and Descriptions
  • Headings, Subheadings and HTML Markup
  • Site crawlability and Indexation
  • Site Speed
  • SSL certifications
  • Caching
  • CDN Implementation

Also, make sure you aren’t running any duplicate pages for products, which can confuse the bots.

17. Publish Consistent Content and Update Old Pieces

Publishing regular, market-relative, high-quality keyword-rich content in your niche is the best thing you can do for sustainable SEO.

It’s also important to audit old pieces of content. Update outdated stats include new research, check high-ranking pieces, and add more to the discussion.

18. Carefully Consider Links in Each Post

Always include authoritative links to other websites in your content. An Alexa rating of under 100k is ideal for authority. Google likes to see that you’ve done your research and care about references.

Likewise, internal links to other relevant posts on your site also help Google understand what your site is about while encouraging visitors to stay.

19. Manually Approve Your Comments

Open comments create a spammer free-for-all. You’ll end up with tons of scammy do-follow links on your site—not good for WordPress SEO.

Instead, either turn off commenting or require moderator approval for comments.

20. Add Breadcrumbs to Improve WordPress SEO

Breadcrumbs are directory links you can see below a site’s menu but above its main content. They help both search engine algorithms and your audience understand your site’s structure and navigation. Plus, they create more internal links.

21. Keep URLs (Permalinks) Short, Sweet, and Keyword-Rich

Your URLs should only include your keyword and enough to differentiate from other URLs. Avoid keyword bombing your URLs. In some instances where it makes sense, I will remove ‘stop’ words like “the”, “is”, ” with”…etc.

Let Our Expert Austin SEO Consultants Handle It

Whether you need ongoing SEO services or just need an expert SEO consultant to audit your website and lend a helping hand, our expert team has your back.

JS-Interactive has helped countless businesses in Austin, Wisconsin, and beyond improve their online visibility and sales. We offer content marketing, user-friendly web design, technical SEO, local SEO, and much more.

Feeling overwhelmed with your SEO? Check out our current work to see how we’ve helped clients in a wide range of industries improve their SEO and holistic online presence! 

9 Strategies for Strengthening Your Digital Marketing in Uncertain Times

Those of us working in digital marketing have always understood the importance of a holistic online presence.

Back in April, however, countless brands who previously put their website, SEO, and overall digital presence on the back-burner found themselves scrambling to make up for the lost time.

45% of B2B marketers report using digital channels for the first time. Meanwhile, 88% doubled down on digital tactics.

Consumer brands are no different. Major companies like Target and Walmart reevaluated their digital marketing strategies to compete with Amazon—and they’ve seen much success. Walmart’s online sales rose by 97% last quarter while Target’s skyrocketed by nearly 200%.

Fortunately, digital strategy helps level the playing field for small and mid-size businesses in all industries. With the right research, SEO, web design, and tactics, you can compete with the big guys.

Now’s as good a time as any to rethink your digital approach and hone your arsenal.

How to Strengthen and Focus Your Digital Marketing During Times of Uncertainty

Digital marketing is fluid. It’s not something you can just set and forget. Much has changed over the past year, so it’s smart to reevaluate your digital marketing strategy and look for ways to improve.

1. Evaluate and Audit Your Current Digital Marketing Strategy

Before making any changes, you first must look at your existing strategy to see what’s working and what’s not.

Grab a notebook or spreadsheet. Write down everything you’re currently doing to maintain your digital presence. Now, look at how your metrics have changed over the past year.

Ask yourself:

  • Where is your website traffic coming from?
  • How many backlinks have you gained? Lost?
  • How many email subscribers and social media followers have you gained?
  • Which keywords are you ranking for?

2. Rethink Your Audience Personas

The needs of your audience have changed over the past year. The personas you developed when you started your business most likely don’t apply to your audience today.

As of June, nearly half the US population was unemployed. Although official figures have improved as unemployment benefits expired, the situation is still dire. For example, between two-thirds and half of Americans are behind on their rent or mortgage as of October and facing eviction.

Some people have become stay-at-home parents balancing homeschooling. Others have turned into caretakers.

Everyone faces a different reality right now. You might even find that you need to target different demographics entirely.

3. Center Empathy in Every Digital Marketing Message

With so many struggling right now, it’s especially important to center human empathy in everything you publish. Your website pages, blogs, videos, and social posts should all reassure your audience that you’re aware of their problems and here to help.

Don’t make any assumptions. Instead, just offer sincerity in your messaging.

Look for fresh opportunities to meet your audience halfway as well. Free shipping, discounts, giveaways, and free returns are all smart ideas, but figure out what your specific audience would appreciate the most.

4. Get Creative and Thorough With Your Digital Marketing Content

People have no time for generic content and Google’s algorithms are no different.

Follow Google’s EAT in everything you publish: Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness.

Your content should always aim to solve a specific problem or add value to the reader’s life. Google pays attention to this because its job as a search engine is to answer questions and queries with effective, thorough, and nuanced results.

As you evaluate your new audience personas, include research to find creative content ideas. Consider frequent questions you hear from customers in your industry. Can you address these in blog posts or landing pages?

Start with some keyword research. When you find a great keyword to structure a blog, run a Google search for it and study everything on the first page of results.

Aim to outdo everything on the first page in some way:

  • More thorough content with more details and explanations
  • Updated statistics, best practices, or trends
  • A new angle or perspective no one has addressed yet

Don’t stick with a single type of content either—diversify!

Not everyone learns best through reading. Plenty of people prefer videos, infographics, and podcasts for audio-visual content.

5. Personalize and Diversify Your E-Commerce Experience

Your website’s e-commerce experience should be personalized and seamless. Make it easy for shoppers to find exactly what they need—and then some.

Urban Outfitters provides a smart search with immediate suggestions as you type along with trending items:

smart search filter urban outfitter Urban Outfitters

Relevant filters and categorization are also important to the experience. WordPress plugins make it easy to personalize your shopping experience without coding knowledge.

It’s shrewd to accept the fact that not everyone is going to buy your products through your website. Diversify your e-commerce shop across all relevant shopping platforms where customers can discover you—and be sure to optimize each one for searches.

Consider all the platforms where your shoppers might hang out:

  • Instagram Shopping
  • Facebook Shopping
  • Pinterest product pins
  • Rakuten
  • eBay
  • Etsy

6. Focus on Organic and Sustainable SEO and Reputation

Organic search engine optimization through content is affordable and sustainable if done correctly.

SEO isn’t an overnight solution and you shouldn’t trust anyone who says otherwise. Black hat SEO tactics can produce quick results but the traffic isn’t targeted and you risk getting exiled by Google. It’s not worth it.

Instead, play the long game. Focus on your overall reputation.

When you prioritize branding and content, Google notices. Reviews, consistent quality content, genuine and relevant backlinks—these are all part and parcel of sustainable SEO practices.

7. Prioritize Transparency in Your Digital Marketing

Sadly, millions of people facing hardship has also given rise to more scammers and shady fly-by-night e-commerce stores. For every new problem, there are a hundred people looking for ways to exploit the victims.

Transparency is key to earning trust with your digital marketing.

Both Google and your visitors need to know who you are, your background, and what you represent. Run through this checklist to boost your transparency and trustworthiness:

  • A clear return policy
  • FAQ pages about your company and products
  • Legitimate author names attached to every post (don’t use names like “news desk”)
  • A thorough “About” page explaining your relevant background and experience
  • A public address or location listing, especially in Google Maps

8. Ensure Your Web Design is 100% Accessible for Everyone

Everyone deserves the option to shop and conduct business online, no matter their disabilities.

Accessible web design ensures that people of all mental and physical abilities can use your website as intended like anyone else.

Experiences we take for granted online—like scanning image contents and adding things to shopping carts—can take hours for someone with vision impairments or other conditions.

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative offers detailed guidelines on how to create an accessible web design for people with vision, hearing, intellectual, cognitive, or physical impairments.

It’s worth mentioning that ADA lawsuits regarding web design accessibility have increased since lockdowns as well—with many levied against small businesses. Professional web designers with an understanding of the ADA and associated guidelines can help you avoid costly and embarrassing situations like these.

9. Properly Leverage Your Data

With more business and activity happening online, you have more opportunities than ever to track each customer’s digital footprint.

Tools like Facebook Pixel help you collect and leverage data on your website visitors across multiple platforms. You can do things like:

  • Measure cross-device conversions and impressions—great for tracking elusive branding metrics!
  • Optimize ads for users most likely to convert
  • Create custom audiences that mirror certain segments of your audience in terms of demographics and browsing behavior
  • Learn about your customers and their online behavior

Facebook Pixel and related tools give you a deeper understanding of your audience and more digital marketing strategies to target them with relevant content.

Take a Comprehensive and Balanced Approach to Digital Marketing, Web Design, and SEO

Digital marketing is more than a full-time job. Between SEO, content marketing, web design, branding, and social media, you need to manage several moving parts—and you must do it well.

People trust our team at JS-Interactive because we treat their brands like our own. We take all the details of your mission, audience, and goals to heart as we develop your strategies.

Have a look at our diverse portfolio to see how our experts have helped consumer brands, B2Bs, and nonprofits reach their full potential online with remarkable results.

Bing SEO: Why It Matters for Organic Traffic and How to Optimize It

Bing? Yes, Bing.

Optimizing your Bing SEO is incredibly easy and can deliver some awesome organic traffic.

While it’s true that Google gets most of the attention, Microsoft’s Bing powers 26% of all searches compared to Google’s 62%.

Don’t count Bing out. In fact, Bing recently released a fresh set of webmaster tools and a new dashboard to compete with Google Search Console.

Why You Should Care About Bing SEO for Organic Traffic

If organic traffic is your goal, you can’t overlook the fact that over half of all searches happen through a Bing-powered search engine.

Tons of search engines and apps partner like Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo, Amazon Fire Tablets partner with Bing.

Aside from that, improving your Bing SEO could deliver a few other benefits.

  • Organic traffic arriving at your site from Bing SERPs might have a lower bounce rate.
  • Bing’s local search app, Bing Places, prioritizes small local businesses.
  • Marketers tend to notice higher conversion rates and ROI from Bing traffic.
  • Unlike Google, Bing is transparent about its ranking factors and SEO.
  • TripAdvisor, Yelp, Foursquare, and MovieTickets.com partner with Bing to aggregate data and reviews.

Bing SEO Vs. Google SEO: 4 Key Differences

Before we jump into the basics of optimizing your Bing SEO for organic traffic, let’s get these key differences out of the way.

1. Influence of Social Engagement Signals

Unlike Google, Bing does look at social media engagement when it ranks your content. Bing figures if people are following your page, sharing your content, and commenting on your posts, you must be pretty influential.

2. Understanding of Keywords

When you optimize your content’s SEO for keywords, you may want to use rules that were compliant with Google back in 2015ish.

Microsoft’s natural language processing isn’t quite as advanced as Google’s yet. You’ll need to use exact keywords (as opposed to synonyms or broad match keywords) in your content and metadata if you want Bing to find it.

Speaking of metadata, Bing still loves meta keywords.

Remember those? Meta keywords are placed into your post’s HTML, visible only to search engines and coders.

3. Impact of Multimedia

Where Bing lacks in natural language processing, it makes up for in multimedia identification.

Bing wants to see lots of high-quality images and videos on your site. Unlike Google, Bing also doesn’t mind websites designed with Flash or Silverlight. Bing says they can “improve the aesthetic appearance or the functional ability” of your website.

Look at this awesome image search interface:

rich search results bing

4. Determining Backlink Quality

We don’t know quite how much, but we do know links play a role in Bing’s ranking system.

According to Bing, lots of links pointing to your site show that your site is popular and valuable:

bing values links
Bing

Building a solid backlink profile is important. You want your links to be genuine and not part of a link- building scheme.

Bing seems to judge a link’s authority based on its age, whereas Google mainly looks at the site’s quality and trustworthiness. Also, while Google might punish you for using keywords as anchor text, Bing wants to see you link keywords.

How to Optimize Bing SEO for Organic Traffic

Optimizing your Bing SEO for organic traffic is easy if you’re already familiar with basic Google SEO.

However, there are a few key points you’ll want to prioritize.

Make Sure Bing is Indexing Your Page and Provide a Sitemap

Before you optimize anything, you’ll need to make sure Bing is indexing your website.

The fastest way to check is by running a Bing site search like site:js-interactive.com.

bing site-specific search

This will immediately show you how many pages Bing is crawling without having to wait for Bing to pull your data in their Webmaster Dashboard.

Just as you would with Google, you’ll also want to give Bing a sitemap. Bing recommends using a fresh sitemap to avoid dirt from redirects.

Familiarize Yourself with the New Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing recently released a brand spanking new Webmaster Dashboard. It looks remarkably like Google Search Console, so it’s easy to figure out and navigate:

2020 bing webmaster dashboard

The fun doesn’t end there. Bing’s Webmaster Tools beat Google Search Console by including SEO tools like backlink reports, keyword research, and SEO analysis.

bing keyword research

Better still, Bing integrated a link disavow tool right into the dashboard so you can clean low-quality links seamlessly. With Google, you have to visit a special page. Plus, Google tends to frown on using the disavow tool. Bing encourages it.

bing disavow tool

The Bing Webmaster Tools also let you scan your website for immediate SEO issues you can address like too-long titles:

Bing SEO Scan

Claim Your Bing Places Listing

get listed bing places

Local businesses would be foolish not to set up and optimize their Bing Places listing because Bing integrates with TripAdvisor.

Bing prioritizes locally owned small businesses. Milwaukee, Wisconsin has no shortage of Starbucks, but there is little to no presence with this “Coffee in Milwaukee” search:

local seo bing search

Link Your Social Media Accounts to Your Site

Since Bing pays attention to social media engagement, it would be smart to link your social accounts with your site if you haven’t already.

In other words, add some widgets on your site that display your Twitter or Facebook feed. You could also integrate the click-to-tweet plugin. The point is to use a plugin with an API that shows Bing crawlers your social accounts belong to your website.

Build Quality Backlinks from Established Websites

Links tell Bing that your website is worth sharing – the more links, the better!

At the same time, Bing keeps an eye out for typical link building schemes and spam:

link schemes bing

Instead, follow the same link building strategy you would for Google: Create authoritative content that people want to link to in their content.

Create Amazing Content That Keeps Visitors on Your Page

Bing tells us upfront that it pays close attention to your website clicks and engagement:

content engagement for seo

Fortunately, you should already be striving to create engaging content for Google SERPs as well. A few important strategies include:

  • Make sure your headline is engaging, unique, and attention-grabbing.
  • Ensure your body copy matches up to the headline. A headline is a promise of what’s inside. You don’t want visitors to hit the back button after they realize your headline was clickbait.
  • Write long-form content of over 1,000 words to answer questions thoroughly and keep visitors on your page.
  • Include internal links so visitors feel compelled to stay on your site and learn more.
  • Try to outdo the top three search results for your keyword every time.

Optimize for Keywords – Especially in Your Titles

While Google is moving away from phrase match keywords in favor of natural language, Bing still loves keywords.

Once you set up your site in Bing Webmaster Tools, you might notice you’re ranking pretty dang well for lots of keywords you lost in Google.

Exact match keywords matter the most in titles. Don’t break up your keyword with synonymous phrases – use the exact keyword you want to target.

Bing also pays close attention to subheadings. You might find it a lot easier to get your site ranking for snippets within your posts:

exact match keywords bing

See at the bottom where Wikipedia is linked? That could include your author name and link.

Invest in High-Quality Multimedia

Bing believes multimedia creates a better aesthetic experience for visitors, so you can’t go wrong adding more to your content.

Include custom multimedia like:

  • Infographics with optimized ALT text
  • High-res product images
  • 360-degree or 3D photos of products
  • Video content

Collect Ethical Reviews

91% of people read reviews, and 84% consider them as reliable as a friend’s recommendation.

Reviews are especially important because Bing integrates with top review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.

Focus on collecting genuine reviews with user-generated content like photos, if possible.

Build a Well-Rounded Digital Marketing Strategy for Organic Traffic

Our experts can help you build a comprehensive SEO strategy for every search engine. We have over 14 years of experience helping both B2B and B2C brands maximize their online visibility and earn loyal customers.

Check out our portfolio to see how we can help you accomplish more!

4 Critical Focus Areas for Every Digital Marketing Strategy in 2020

We’ve all gone through so much this year – and it’s not over yet.

2020 has changed our lives in many ways, collectively and individually.

However, one thing is certain: the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across all industries and sectors.

We were already moving towards more online sales and business, but that’s skyrocketed over the past few months, and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Whether B2B or B2C, a comprehensive digital marketing strategy is critical in 2020 and with moving forward. There are four key components: a content strategy, search visibility, optimized user experience, and thoughtful automation.

Why is a Comprehensive Digital Marketing Strategy So Important in 2020 and Beyond?

It hasn’t been a fun year for brick and mortar retailers. Over a dozen major brands have declared bankruptcy since lockdowns began:

bankrupt retailers amid covid-19
Digital Commerce 360

However, online sales have skyrocketed. E-commerce sales have steadily climbed over the last few years, and they’ve only accelerated since the pandemic began.

online sales growth slows july

Digital Commerce 360

In fact, not a single region has dropped back down to its pre-pandemic e-commerce level yet:

online transaction trends
Emarsys Insights

That tells us when people feel safe enough to visit physical stores, they still choose to keep shopping online.

A thorough digital marketing strategy is critical for reaching your audience and sustaining business – no matter your industry.

Too many businesses, especially local ones, have the attitude of “Well, I have a website – isn’t that enough?”

They’ve been told for years: “you need a website” and “you gotta have a website” without anyone explaining why it’s so necessary.

That’s why I’ve always implored businesses to develop a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. It takes more than a website. You need a solid online presence and consistent content.

Companies who followed through with my recommendations understand the value of online visibility and what it takes to build a strong brand today.

A website is your digital storefront.

Your website doesn’t exist just so you can print the URL on business cards and point to it when people ask. You need a website to function as an independent marketing tool. To do that, you need a digital marketing strategy.

The primary reasons a website and digital marketing strategy are critical are because they:

  • Demonstrate your industry authority via content
  • Build brand awareness
  • Reach new audiences through organic search traffic
  • Share links on social media
  • Show up in local apps like Google maps

Critical Focus 1: Content Strategy

Content strategy is first on this list for good reason. You need regular high-quality content to show search engines your expertise, increase rankings, build genuine backlinks, and, most importantly, earn the trust of your audience.

Nailing Down Your Personas and Audience Segments

Think back to middle school composition: who are you writing for, and what do you want to teach them?

Use forums like Reddit to see what your audience segments are talking about and what they’ve already read. You want to add nuance to the discussion – not repeat the same thing they’ve heard 30 times.

Conducting Keyword Research

Keywords tell Google and potential readers what your content is about. They also give you guidance for structuring your topics and brainstorming ideas.

Use tools like SEMrush or KWFinder to figure out what your audience is searching for.

Creating an Editorial Calendar

Once you get some keywords, put them together in a calendar with:

  • A catchy headline
  • Notes on the topic
  • Format for the content (blog, video, eBook, podcast, etc.)
  • Date to publish

Plan your content a month or two in advance, so you always have something in the works.

Developing Authoritative Content

A blog you just threw together for the sake of publishing something isn’t worth creating.

Content needs some meat on its bones. It must answer every question thoroughly and accurately. Use tools like SEMrush to conduct your keyword research and figure out what people are typing into Google.

With BuzzSumo, you can search for topics to see what’s already been read so your content will always stand out.

Ideally, shoot for blogs over 1,000 words. Make sure to write on topics you understand at an expert level.

Promoting Your Content in the Right Places

It’s so important to understand your audience because you want to share your content places you know your target audience will see it.

For some brands, that’s YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest. For others, it’s Facebook, Instagram, and email.

You can also use guest blogging as a way to promote your content while earning quality backlinks to your website.

Critical Focus 2: Search Visibility

A lot of local brands think if they’re showing up on the first page of results for their branded keywords, their work is done. Really, that defeats the purpose of search engine optimization.

Sure, branded keywords are important – but those visitors already know who you are. That’s why they typed your name into the search bar.

You must also rank for keywords that aren’t specific to your brand but somewhat related to your business. That’s how you reach new audiences and earn new loyal customers.

Organic Traffic Search Engine Optimization

Optimizing your website for branded keywords AND related keywords is important for securing your online real estate and driving free organic traffic. Choose long-tail keywords as much as possible. They suggest a searcher is farther along in the buying process. Plus, they’re more specific, so you can create the most relevant content.

Optimize Local Searches

If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing yet, now’s the time.

If you have, don’t think of it as a one-and-done deal. People will want to know if your hours or information change.

Pay special attention to your business description. This is your chance to hook customers and grab attention. You also want to choose the right categories – get specific. If you run a bookstore with a café, for example, you’d choose bookstore and create a second listing for the café.

You can upload pictures of your business/products regularly and encourage customers to do the same.

Reviews are especially important for local search optimization. 91% of people read reviews. I’m almost certain Google considers reviews as a ranking factor in local searches.

google my business

The Importance of Bing

Don’t count Bing out of the race! Bing integrates with tons of apps like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Fandango.

Plus, Bing’s local app, Bing Places, prioritizes local small businesses.

Look what happens when we Bing “Asheville coffee:”

asheville coffee bing search

There’s no Starbucks, Dunkin, or Caribou shown – it’s all local coffee shops!

Critical Focus 3: User Experience and User Interface

This point could have gone in the first spot because it’s that important.

If you don’t have a user-first experience and design, it doesn’t matter how wonderful your content is: no one will stick around to read it.

Focus on Functional Web Design

The word “offensive” comes to mind with bad web design. Offensively bright colors, strange graphics, artsy fonts, and unique navigation can all push people away.

Don’t design a website to impress designers. Design a website to impress visitors.

It should be easy for visitors to find exactly what they need when they get to your site.

Speed is also a top priority. Websites should load in less than three seconds. As more people switch to 5G, websites will need to load even faster. Not only is a slow website bad for visitors, but Google’s algorithms don’t like slow sites either.

Don’t Forget a Mobile-Friendly Interface

Mobile-friendliness is so important that Google switched to mobile-first indexing a few years ago. Your rankings could suffer if your website isn’t fully optimized for smartphones.

Plus, mobile-first design is just the smart thing to do. It demands a concise and clear layout. Some tips include:

  • Using large buttons instead of hyperlinks
  • Making sure links and buttons aren’t too close together
  • Using a responsive design, so users don’t have to scroll horizontally to read your copy

Critical Focus 4: Automation

You can automate plenty of processes on-site and off with the right tools. Not only does this free up time for you and your team, but it also creates a better experience for your visitors.

A Seamless User Experience

Automation can help visitors find what they need on your website – even if they aren’t sure what they’re looking for.

For example, take your website search. Top brands like Urban Outfitters use AI-driven smart searches to suggest popular and trending items:

search automation

Urban Outfitters

It also suggests related terms when we start typing ‘hoodie” into the search bar.

search automation urban outfitters

It’s all about making your experience easier and better for visitors.

Effortless Email Marketing

Email marketing is the easiest place to dip your toes in the water if you’re new to automation.

You can set up triggered emails and plan everything with full control before sending them out.

Email automation lets you design customer journey campaigns with welcome messages, thank you’s, information about your brand values, and transactional emails.

Building a connection with your audience is important because email can be so personal. It can also help you win back abandoned carts and optimize your transactional emails for upselling.

Easy Analytics and Backend Processes

Technology makes it seamless to integrate all your marketing processes from one location – even if you’re no expert.

WordPress, for example, lets you install plugins and connect APIs from tools like Mailchimp, Salesforce, Twitter, Hootsuite, Medium, Google Analytics, and any tool you can imagine.

Don’t aim to automate everything. Just look for your biggest time wasters and seek out tools to let a computer handle it.

Need Some Help Creating a Growth-Driven Digital Marketing Strategy?

Digital marketing isn’t an overnight hack. It takes time to prove your value to search engines and leads. An effective digital marketing strategy also demands consistency and quality. Slacking and publishing content just to publish won’t get you anywhere with visibility or leads.

At JS-Interactive, we understand it’s overwhelming trying to manage a digital marketing strategy on your own. Schedule a free 30-minute call so we can talk about your goals – no strings attached.