3 Key Trends and Themes from Pubcon to Look Out For
I attended Pubcon last week and learned a lot about where the marketing industry is headed. Here are a few trends (that were discussed in nearly every session) that companies should be thinking about moving forward into 2012:
The future is mobile. Look around. Virtually everyone around you owns a smart phone. Tablet computing also falls under the umbrella of mobile. The iPad is not a fad.
Companies like Microsoft are currently working on the next generation of mobile computing. The next version of Windows, Windows 8, will introduce the ability to use touch screens as a desktop. (Don’t worry; your QWERTY keyboard won’t be going away!) There are rumors buzzing about HP and Sony operating tablets powering Windows 8 (or webOS). Apple is mere steps away from doing the same!
So what does this mean for websites? Develop with mobile first in mind. A handful of sites have mastered this idea, look at Apple and Lifehacker. “Mobile first” must be your mindset – with half a million Android devices activated every day and the new iPhone 4S selling millions on release day, you can’t be left behind.
Content marketing isn’t a new concept, but last February Google added an update to their algorithm named ‘Panda’. In a nutshell, the Panda update looked to eliminate low quality sites from the Google index. Many sites from scrapers to sites with too much duplicate content saw a significant drop in the rankings (some were even removed from results all together!)
Essentially, creating content specifically for engines doesn’t work. If you try it, Google will punish you. You need to craft your content specifically for your audience. This means understanding what your audience is interested in and creating content they want to read and share. Develop content that positions your company as a thought leader within your industry. Don’t be afraid to start small and “win” a topic or two within a specific niche. The more you work on creating fresh content for your audience over time, the better your site will fare in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
3. Social Signals
Google and Bing constantly tweek their algorithms and continue to introduce social signals into their ranking factors. If you like a post on Facebook or +1 a story from the local newspaper’s website, that information is being tracked by the engine. Then anytime a user searches for a related topic, those sites are more likely to appear at the top of the results. You might have already noticed – if you’re logged into Google and you use Google+ – a small picture of your friend’s Google+ profile is listed directly next to listings they ‘plussed’. If you’re a Bing user, you see Facebook integration within the results.
There was a comment made at Pubcon that social signals are the new links. But I personally always consider links social signals. The key is that in order to optimize your content, you need have an audience that will engage and find your content “sharable”.
There are many more highlights from Pubcon, but I think my biggest take-away from the conference was that this industry continues to grow rapidly. It’s like saving money; the earlier companies adopt new trends, the better they will fare in the future.
Mike Hernalsteen is the Senior Interactive Marketing Specialist at LoSasso Advertising Inc., a Chicago based interactive agency where he develops comprehensive online marketing strategies for leading B2B and consumer brands. (See more posts by Mike)