Marketing is changing faster than ever. Those of you who aim to become T‑shaped marketers or who manage entire marketing departments know it best. Chasing after the latest marketing fads may provide some short-term results, but marketing strategies can’t rely on that.
For long-term marketing planning, you need strong foundations: strategies and tactics that have shown good results in the past and are likely to do so in the future. After all, marketing activities thrive on iterations. And the more time you put into something, the better you become at it.
That’s why in this collection of digital marketing trends, we’ve focused on eight trends that aren’t just industry fads but general directions that marketing is heading toward in 2022 and beyond.
In this article, we’ll talk about the following:
- Search intent is king
- Word of mouth is still a trend
- Privacy factors will impact digital advertising
- Omnichannel marketing is a must
- Video is an essential marketing channel
- Data changed marketing for good
- Frictionless experience is ideal for customers
- Remote work is here to stay
For example, Google ranks guides the highest for an informational intent query like “how to tune a guitar.”
On the other hand, for a transactional query like “amazon,” Google knows a user is trying to navigate to the ecommerce website most relevant to their location (as opposed to finding information about the Amazon river).
Google believes in optimizing for humans, not algorithms. In fact, some of Google’s sophisticated machine learning algorithms like BERT or MUM are introduced to make the search engine “more human.” That is, the search engine should understand information as well as humans.
There are many recognized trends in SEO, but search intent is and will probably remain king. After all, it’s the core of Google’s business.
What to do about it
Design and optimize content with search intent in mind. This comes down to looking at the search result pages for a particular query and identifying the three Cs of search intent:
- Content type – What is the overall type of content? Is it a blog post, product page, or video? For instance, this very article is a blog post.
- Content format – Some common formats include how-to guides, list posts, reviews, comparisons, etc. The article you’re reading right now is a list post.
- Content angle – The unique selling point of the content piece. For example, “best,” “cheapest,” and “freshness.” Can you guess what the angle of this article is?
Once you identify the three Cs of search intent, you should have a pretty good idea of what type of content Google “recommends” to its users for particular search queries.
Recommended reading: What is Search Intent? A Complete Guide for Beginners
Word of mouth (WOM) is the “invisible force” behind many brands’ successes and the unsung hero of converting prospects to customers. Here’s some data to illustrate my point:
- 83% of respondents from 60 countries trust recommendations from friends and family, and 66% trust online recommendations (Nielsen).
- 74% of purchasers (auto, beauty, and smartphone categories) identify word of mouth as the main point of influence for purchasing decisions (Google, TNS, & Ogilvy).
Thanks to online media, that “invisible force” of WOM—otherwise harder to notice and measure—has become quite tangible. We can witness it in the following:
- Social media – WOM is seen in both conversations and sharing of content.
- User-generated content about brands and their products – Customer reviews, unboxings, or fan pictures posted on Instagram are great examples.
- The proliferation of influencer marketing – While influencer marketing is a marketing type of its own, the fact that’s been working so well is based on the same mechanics as WOM: People trust other people more than brands.
What to do about it
First, create a great product or service. Without one, you won’t go far. You should have something that exceeds expectations. Make it change the users’ lives for the better.
If people truly like your product, they will start expressing it. You can potentially affect the velocity and scale of that process through some marketing tactics, such as:
- Encouraging users to share pictures or short videos of your product under a specified hashtag.
- Creating content that appeals to the reasons why people share on social media.
- Sharing positive testimonials about your business (but don’t brag).
- Sharing your product reviews.
- Engaging in conversations. Or even starting them. Caution: This can be scary. You have very little (if any) control over such situations, but courage and transparency go a long way in the marketing world. Plus, you can learn a great deal from the feedback you’ll receive.
Fact 1. Safari and Firefox browsers already block third-party cookies by default. In case you’re wondering, third-party cookies are small text files set by a website other than the one you are visiting, mostly used to track users between websites (and show retargeting ads, for example).
Fact 3. Starting from iOS 14, Apple began requiring a voluntary opt-in for the Identification for Advertisers (IDFA) from its users. Translation: Companies, such as Facebook, won’t “track you across apps and websites” unless you explicitly give them permission.
If that’s not enough:
- 42.7% of internet users worldwide use ad blockers (Hootsuite).
- Half of Americans have decided not to use a product or service because of privacy concerns (Pew Research).
- There is a proliferation of products built with security and privacy in mind, designed to “rescue” you from the data-harvesting monopolies. Examples: DuckDuckGo, Brave, Signal, ProtonMail, and Blockchain smartphones.
All this information paints a rather clear picture. Internet users will, theoretically, have more privacy when browsing the web. As a result, marketers will have fewer data points about potential customers, maybe even fewer advertising options, and more headaches when it comes to assigning ad attribution.
Most marketers already anticipate the moves made by Google and Apple will have a significant impact:
What to do about it
Digital advertising won’t go away because of the “cookie apocalypse.” Here’s why:
- Let’s not forget that Google relies mostly on ad revenue. In fact, it is already working on a new browser-based tracking standard called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). So if we take Adroll’s advice (one of the biggest companies in the adtech business), until that happens, it’s business as usual.
- Big publishers are steering away from third-party ad solutions in favor of their own data aggregation and ad selling, e.g., Insider’s SAGA platform.
- We may even see wide adoption of Unified ID 2.0 (developed by The Trade Desk and the IAB Tech Lab), which appears to resemble third-party cookies.
- While Facebook took a blow after undermining the IDFA, Apple’s own ad solutions suddenly became more attractive. Looks like one man’s loss is another man’s gain.
So it seems brands that want to use online advertising after 2023 will still have plenty of options. The only hurdle here is that they will have to adapt to the new standards and different forms of advertising (like buying ads directly from publishers).
However, some brands are already impacted by privacy factors, seen in declining ad clicks and lower returns on ad spend on Facebook.
Others, acting like smart investors, are already taking measures to diversify their marketing channels. Privacy measures or not, it’s a good idea to invest in omnichannel marketing, as we’ll see in the next section.
So what are the alternatives here? If you want to learn how you can grow by taking advantage of other marketing channels and minimum paid traffic, read our article below.
Recommended reading: 8 Effective Marketing Channels in 2021 (And How We Use Them)
Omnichannel marketing is about giving customers or prospects access to your products, offers, and support services on all channels, platforms, and devices.
This trend can easily be observed in commerce. For example, IKEA allows you to order through an online store, a mobile app, a phone call, or a visit to a local store.
What’s more, IKEA offers every possible contact option, including a live chat with a chatbot.
But let’s look at the larger picture:
- The purchase rate of omnichannel campaigns is 287% higher than single-channel campaigns (Omnisend).
- Customers are channel-agnostic. They expect businesses to be available on any channel that’s convenient for them (Gartner).
- The more channels in your channel mix, the better. More channels mean more convenience for your customers. More prospects mean more ROI. At least, that’s what we can learn from this analysis of 6,000 Effie-award-winning campaigns.
What to do about it
You can offer omnichannel experiences in three key areas.
The first one is the product (or service). For example, Ahrefs is primarily a SaaS platform, but we also extend some of the product features to plugins, such as our SEO Toolbar for Chrome and Firefox and our free SEO WordPress plugin. This way, we can provide data contextually and make things more convenient for our users.
The second area is customer support. Think about expanding the channels that can be used to reach your business. Don’t blame customers for using the “wrong” support channels. Instead, be prepared for any questions on all channels.
Conversational marketing solutions, such as live chats, are something more and more companies invest in. If you look at the data, it makes perfect sense:
- 82% of consumers expect an immediate response to sales or marketing questions (Hubspot).
- 79% of companies say that live chat has had positive results for customer loyalty, sales, and revenue (Kayako).
- Conversations inside Facebook Messenger between companies and customers have a 30% higher conversion rate than retargeting ads (Facebook).
The third area is promotion. Like the aforementioned Effie study has proven, the more channels, the better.
For example, we promote Ahrefs Webmaster Tools through many channels: Twitter, YouTube, Google Ads, various kinds of sponsorships, and more. We also try new ones whenever possible. (Recently, we have used Brave Ads and Quora Ads). Here’s an example of a video ad.
Wherever you look, you can see the same pattern:
- 79% of people say they’ve been convinced to buy or download a piece of software or app after watching a video (Wyzowl).
- YouTube is the second-most visited website in the U.S. by organic traffic (Ahrefs).
- 91% of marketers feel the pandemic has made video more important for brands (Wyzowl).
- Video is the primary form of marketing media being created in 2021, followed by blogs (used by more than half of marketing teams), and infographics (Hubspot).
Video proves to be great for users and businesses. It’s really hard to find a sound reason not to invest in video marketing. This is especially if your product is better shown in video than explained in written content.
What to do about it
If you’re at the beginning of your video marketing journey, the video below explains how to set up for success in this type of marketing even if you lack professional equipment, proficiency in English, or experience in front of the camera.
According to Harvard Business Review, data science is “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” It also added:
If companies sit out this trend’s early days for lack of talent, they risk falling behind as competitors and channel partners gain nearly unassailable advantages.
That article is from 2012. Some 10 years later, data scientist is #2 in Glassdoor’s 50 Best Jobs in America for 2021 report. And #1 is Java developer, with a comparable job satisfaction degree but about a $20k lower median base salary.
The data science trend is so impactful that it has left its mark on marketing. This study from Altimeter says that from a set of 11 skills, data analysis is the most desired skill among digital marketers.
And when we look at some data analysis courses, we can see that they are already being customized for marketers:
The courses cover many aspects, from advanced spreadsheet skills to programming in Python and R. Just one look at these courses, and we can see complex marketing problems that data analysis can help solve: customer churn, multifaceted customer data, sentiment analysis, campaign performance, etc.
What to do about it
Step 1 is to connect to quality data sources. There is a dedicated analytics tool for every marketing channel out there.
For example, if you want to take advantage of organic search, you will need a premium SEO tool like Ahrefs. Such a tool is your ticket to the vast pool of global search demand and backlinks data.
With the right SEO tools, you can also peep at your competitors’ data and see where you can improve.
The second step is learning data analysis skills.
Basic skills include mastering relevant spreadsheet formulas, understanding statistics, and understanding how your data is collected. If you think you can benefit from more advanced skills, invest in learning SQL, Python, or R.
That said, marketing analytics software can already perform a lot of data cleaning, analysis, and visualization for you. Particularly, the latest marketing automation technology has become quite remarkable.
Solutions like Blueshift or Bloomreach can take all your customer data points, merge them into one database, and then allow you to design omnichannel communication workflows triggered based on customer characteristics, actions, and even AI predictions.
Can you point to a moment in time when buying something online was as easy, fast, and essentially frictionless as it is today?
It’s obvious: Customers are more likely to make a purchase when companies make it easy for them.
Let’s look at some more examples:
- These days, you can buy new and used cars 100% online.
- E‑grocery companies declare deliveries to be as fast as 15 minutes.
- Investing in the stock market is a breeze nowadays with apps like Robinhood or eToro.
- Klarna, whose tagline is “the shortcut to shopping,” allows you to buy something online even if you don’t have the money at that moment.
- Last but not least, think how disappointed you would be A.D. 2022 if a SaaS product didn’t have a free trial or some form of “free” element to it.
What to do about it
Decrease friction for any form of conversion action that you want the user to take. Be it signing up for a newsletter, signing up for a trial, or even making a purchase. As you can see above, businesses can make more money when they make the money flow easier.
But before you do, take a moment to think about whether you may need some kind of “friction.” Here are a few examples:
- Friction from a lead generation perspective – For instance, you may find that gated content results in more qualified leads with more data points available.
- Friction as a security measure – For example, before I took that screenshot from Amazon, I needed to go through a two-step verification process to log in to my account.
It’s been two years into the pandemic, and we’re all living in the “new normal.” That said, it’s reasonable to wonder if remote work should stay for good.
Well, according to a couple of statistics on the recent global remote work phenomenon, it seems that the transition to home offices was mostly successful.
What’s more, remote work proved to have its upsides.
According to a Stanford study of 16,000 workers over nine months, a work-from-home arrangement increases productivity by 13%. Reason: more convenient working environment, fewer breaks, and sick days.
Here are a few more benefits:
- Lower cost of employment
- Better mental health
- Access to better job options
- More employee loyalty
- Lower commuting costs (and more time saved on traveling)
If you’ve worked remotely, I’m sure you have your own pros and cons.
On the whole, though, employees are eager to continue working remotely or semi-remotely. According to FlexJobs’ 10th Annual Survey conducted between July and August 2021, an astounding 97% of workers desire some form of remote work—be it fully remote or hybrid.
And according to another study, over half of the employees want to work at least three days a week remotely.
Thus, it appears that remote work is here to stay.
What to do about it
The overall consensus seems to be that in order to adapt to this situation, companies will employ a hybrid model: Staff will spend some days in the office and some days at home.
And another study by Mercer confirms this sentiment: 70% of companies say they are planning to adopt the hybrid model.
In the above statistics, marketers are no exception. Who knows? Maybe marketers are even more likely to adopt the remote model. After all, we don’t often experience client-facing situations. And even if we do, those can be handled online. Also, I guess most of the tools we use for work are cloud-based.
So, dear marketers, you will likely see yourselves working remotely or semi-remotely in the coming years. There is a lesson here for employers also: Don’t be surprised if the people whom you work with expect some kind of remote work.
To wrap things up, let me also share a few tips on how to make the most of remote work based on the research I’ve seen so far:
- Avoid the always-on mentality – This is advice both to employers and employees. Many people report that while working from home, they feel like they’re constantly working. This eventually leads to lower productivity, lower satisfaction, and professional burnout.
- Use the right tools – For example, here at Ahrefs, some of us are remote-only workers from all around the world, while some are based in the Singapore office (but work remotely from time to time). So our work model is hybrid in a way. But all of the tools we use are remote-work friendly. Our staff can log in wherever and whenever they need.
- Consider more in-office time for new hires and inexperienced workers. They may need the support and a taste of the company vibe.
- 87% of employees say the office is important for collaborating with team members and building relationships (PWC). That’s right—having friends at work is that important. We just have to get used to chatting with people over the internet rather than in person.
The future is always uncertain. Marketers can rarely afford the luxury to wait things out. So the only other option to cope with uncertainty is to start taking action. And hopefully, your path to success will become brighter as you go.
I hope the above list of digital marketing trends provided some insight into a couple of smart moves you can make in marketing in the near future.
If you have questions about marketing in 2022 or answers (even better), let me know on Twitter.
The Only Shopify SEO Checklist You Need To Rank Your Site
When it comes to driving motivated traffic to your Shopify store, no other digital marketing strategy is as affordable or impactful as SEO.
For e-commerce retailers, taking the time to ensure your web pages are properly optimized can help increase your organic traffic, meaning more potential customers browsing your products.
For this reason, leveraging SEO is one of the best digital investments a Shopify site owner can make.
What Is Shopify SEO?
Shopify SEO is the process of optimizing a Shopify website to perform better in search engine results.
Common SEO Challenges For E-Commerce Websites
In general, e-commerce websites are more likely to face certain challenges that can negatively impact search engine performance.
- Thin Content: Google loves in-depth, long-form content. Because product pages tend toward thin content, it can be difficult to boost their rankings in search.
- Duplicate Content: With multiple product pages that are so similar or auto-generated, many e-commerce websites face duplicate content issues.
- Poor Site Architecture: Google likes to see an optimized site structure that users can easily navigate. With so many pages on their website, e-commerce retailers can easily suffer from poor site architecture signals.
- Not Utilizing Schema: Products schema helps Google crawlers understand your products and promote them accordingly. Not utilizing schema is a huge mistake for Shopify retailers.
To make sure that your website doesn’t suffer from these common setbacks faced by e-commerce sites, the Shopify SEO checklist below is a great place to start.
Automated SEO Features In Shopify
The Shopify platform does have some SEO features built-in that ease some of the SEO workload on-site owners.
These features include:
- Auto-generated “rel-canonical” tags: this feature helps avoid duplicate content penalties!
- Auto-generated robots.txt and sitemap.xml files.
- Automatic SSL certificates: Google prefers to rank secure pages with HTTPS protocols.
- Auto-generated page titles that include the store’s name.
However, SEO is a vast and multidisciplinary field.
Counting on the Shopify platform alone to do the work of SEO for you is not going to produce the best results.
19 Must-Do Tasks On Your Shopify SEO Checklist
Remember that SEO is not a one-and-done process and will require work both when you initially set up your store and throughout the lifetime of your website.
The checklist below is organized by the type of optimization, but it can be easily completed “in order.”
Some of these steps are a one-time optimization, but the majority will need to be repeated whenever you add new products or pages to your online store.
1. Invest In A Custom Domain
It’s generally better to invest in a custom domain and drop the “myshopify” from your URLs.
Why? Because the URL path is visible to users at the top of the SERP result. Custom domains look more professional and more enticing to users, and higher CTRs lead to better SEO performance.
You can buy custom domains from Shopify or any third-party domain provider.
Then, add your custom domain in the Settings > Domains menu of your Shopify account.
2. Choose A Fast And Responsive Theme
With last year’s page experience update, fast page speed and load times are non-negotiable if you want to rank well in Google.
Although flashier themes might be tempting, it is better to choose a theme that is optimized for speed and performance.
Your theme also needs to perform well on mobile devices, as Google will index the mobile versions of your web pages.
You can get a sense of how fast your current Shopify store is in comparison to others in your dashboard or via your PageSpeed Insights report. If your scores are low, it’s likely impacting your ability to rank in top positions.
Consider another, more SEO-friendly theme.
Here is a list of some of the fastest themes on Shopify.
3. Setup Your Analytics Tools
Your Shopify Analytics dashboard will give you an overview of your e-commerce metrics.
However, you need to set up additional tools to better understand where your website traffic comes from and how users behave once arriving at your website from search.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are must-haves for any site owner, and they are completely free to users.
After you create your accounts, here are some other key steps you’ll want to take:
4. Get Helpful Shopify SEO Apps
There are all sorts of Shopify SEO apps that can help ensure you are meeting SEO best practices across your web pages. Some of my favorites include:
- Plug In SEO: Similar to Yoast SEO for WordPress and ensures best practices.
- SEO Pro: Great for schema and more advanced optimizations.
- Smart SEO: Very affordable option for lots of SEO value.
5. Do Your Keyword Research
Before you start optimizing your content, you need to identify which keywords have strong relevance to your products and will bring qualified traffic to your website.
There are hundreds to thousands of ways users might be searching for products like yours. A keyword tool allows you to discover what users are searching for.
Some of those keywords will be easier to rank for than others, and a part of your SEO work is identifying which keywords present the best opportunities for your store.
The most important keyword metrics to pay attention to are:
- Search Volume: You want your keyword targets to get a reasonable number of searches per month, otherwise you’re optimizing for no one.
- CPC: Higher CPCs represent stronger conversion potential. Higher CPCs are more common with commercial and transactional keywords.
- Keyword Difficulty: Higher scores will mean the keywords are more difficult to rank for. Make sure you choose keyword targets where you can realistically rank on page 1.
Ideally, each web page in your Shopify store will be targeting a different keyword or keyword cluster.
For your product and category pages, optimize for keywords that show more transactional intent, as those users are more inclined to make a purchase.
For your blog posts, optimize for informational queries to capture searchers near the top of the funnel.
6. Optimize Your URLs
There are some URL best practices that are essential to improving your rankings in Google.
- Keep it short and sweet.
- Include your target keyword.
- Avoid unnecessary words like and/or/the/etc..
You can easily edit the URL paths in the Search Engine Listing Preview at the bottom of any page in the Shopify CMS.
7. Optimize Your Page Titles And Meta Descriptions
While you’re editing your Search Engine Listing, make sure you also optimize the other meta tags visible in your SERP result: the title tag and meta description.
You’ll want to follow best practices here as well by including your keywords and meeting SEO best practices, especially length – no more than 60 characters for your title tag and no more than 160 for your meta description.
Google looks to these pieces of metadata to understand what your content is about and when to promote it.
And because the meta description may also be visible as a search snippet (although not always), it can influence whether searchers click on your result.
Google is smart enough to understand the terms and phrases that have a semantic relationship to your primary keyword, so there is no need to stuff these on-page elements with the same keyword over and over again.
Your meta tags should read naturally and adequately describe the content on the page.
8. Use A Content Optimization Tool For Your Product Descriptions
Thin content on product pages can be a serious hindrance for e-commerce websites.
Make sure you take the time to craft original, descriptive product descriptions that include relevant keywords, synonyms, and related terms.
A content optimizer tool can help you identify which related keywords have the most SEO power and show strong relevance signals to your products.
Do your best to include them in a natural way to elevate the ranking potential of your product pages.
9. Optimize Your Alt Text
Your Shopify website likely has lots of images that showcase your products.
But remember, Google cannot see your images. It’s important you communicate to Google what those images are through descriptive file names and keyword-rich alt text.
This also makes your Shopify website more accessible to users with visual impairments.
10. Create Blog Content To Target Long-Tail Queries
To capture users who are near the top of the sales funnel, create high-quality blog content that is optimized for relevant long-tail queries.
By answering the questions users are asking about products like yours, you can build brand awareness and expertise.
It’s also a great way to increase the total number of keywords that your Shopify store ranks for.
11. Create An SEO-Friendly Navigation Menu
Navigation menus help your users easily move throughout your online store. Not only will a SEO-friendly navigation menu look better to Google crawlers, but it will also create a better user experience.
A few SEO tips for navigation:
- Prioritize clear and easy navigation.
- Take the time to make sure that your products are well organized into collections.
- Keep your navigation consistent across the page.
- Use the nav to help users easily contact you or your support team.
12. Leverage Internal Links
Your internal links accomplish a few things.
They keep users moving throughout your website, they help search engine crawlers understand your site architecture, and they distribute your PageRank across more of your site.
The majority of your Shopify website’s PageRank will be on your homepage, which is why the links you include in your nav menu should be strategic.
Avoid sending link equity to items that are out-of-stock, seasonal, or are unlikely to rank well in search results due to thin or unoptimized content.
Instead, push PageRank toward pages that you want to elevate in search, like your primary category and collection pages.
13. Add The Products Schema
There are a few different ways to add structured data to your Shopify website, and which is best for you will be determined by how comfortable you are editing your website’s code. To add schema manually, go to Themes > Action > Edit Code.
You can use a schema generator tool to generate your markup and input all of the required properties.
Shopify users should consider using the following Product Schemas when applicable:
- Aggregate rating.
- Special offers.
If working in your HTML editor isn’t your jam, plenty of Shopify plugins have Products schema features and make the process simple.
14. Add Product Reviews
Positive reviews on your products can push users toward a click or purchase.
Download the Product Reviews app in the Shopify store to start leveraging product reviews. This app sends structured data information to Google so those yellow stars appear with your SERP result.
They can be game-changing in improving CTRs and generating more clicks to your store.
15. Build Links To Your Shopify Site
You will also need to build off-site signals in order for Google to trust your online store and rank it in search results.
This is arguably the most difficult part of SEO because you don’t have control over whether a website chooses to link to yours.
However, there are some easy ways to start earning links:
- Create high-quality content like blog posts and ask other site owners to link to it.
- Get featured in gift guides or product roundups.
- Guest blog on relevant sites.
16. Invest In Public Relations
Public relations and organic outreach are at the heart of link building and one of the best ways to earn high-quality links from authoritative websites.
If you don’t yet have the time or resources to do PR outreach, sign up for Help-A-Reporter Out (HARO). You’ll get daily emails from journalists and publishers looking to hear from experts or feature certain products.
Shopify Website Maintenance
17. Regularly Audit Your Website
Over time, your website will change. This occurs as you add or delete pages on your website, as your pages accrue backlinks, or as the landscape of search changes.
A regular website audit can help you determine which of your pages are performing the best in search and which are underperforming.
The insights provided from a website audit can help you identify key content, page experience, or authority issues that you need to prioritize and resolve.
18. Repair Broken Links
As you change up your product offering or items go out of stock, you will likely unpublish or delete pages of your Shopify Website.
If that page was linked to anywhere else on your website, you will create a “broken link.”
Google does not like to rank websites with excessive broken links, as it looks as if the website is not active and being properly taken care of.
Once a quarter, it’s a good idea to run a site crawler across the entirety of your website to identify broken links and repair them.
19. Study The Data And Iterate
As more users visit your online store, your analytics tools will provide you with loads of data about how they are behaving on your website, how they got there in the first place, and more.
Make sure to draw insights from that data to iterate on your keyword targeting, page content, internal linking, meta tags, and more.
Remember, SEO has a wonderful way of lowering customer-acquisition costs in the long term.
Learning the basics of Shopify SEO and taking the necessary steps can be all the difference in outranking and outperforming your competitors.
Follow the checklist above, and you’ll most likely see Google reward you with more keyword rankings and more site traffic.
Featured Image: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock
Google Gives Sites More Indexing Control With New Robots Tag
A new robots tag, called indexifembedded, lets websites give Google more direction over which content to index in search results.
With this tag you can tell Google to only index content on a page if it’s embedded through iframes and similar HTML tags.
The indexifembedded tag overrides the noindex tag.
That means you can use noindex to keep a whole URL out of search results, and apply the indexifembedded tag to make a specific piece of content indexable when it’s embedded on another webpage.
Google says it created this tag to fix an issue affecting media publishers:
“… while they may want their content indexed when it’s embedded on third-party pages, they don’t necessarily want their media pages indexed on their own.”
When To Use The Indexifembedded Tag
This new robots tag is not something that applies to a lot of publishers, as it’s intended for content that has a separate URL for embedding purposes.
For example, a publisher of a podcast may have webpages dedicated to each podcast episode, which each have their own URLs.
Then there would be URLs pointing directly to the media, which other sites can use to embed the podcast on one of their pages.
Such a URL might be used when inserting a podcast episode as a source of reference, like I recently did in an article about Googlebot crawling.
The podcast creator may not want the media URLs indexed in search results. Previously, the only way to keep them out of Google Search was with a noindex tag.
However, the noindex tag prevents embedding the content in other pages during indexing. So if the publisher wanted to allow embeddeding they were forced to have the media URL indexed as well.
Now, with the indexifembedded tag, publishers have more control over what gets indexed.
The indexifembedded tag can be used with the noindex tag, and will override it when the URL with noindex is embedded into another page through an iframe or similar HTML tag.
Google offers the following example:
“For example, if podcast.host.example/playpage?podcast=12345 has both the noindex and indexifembedded tag, it means Google can embed the content hosted on that page in recipe.site.example/my-recipes.html during indexing.”
How To Use The Indexifembedded Tag
There are two ways to use this new robots tag.
To enable your content to be indexed only when it’s embedded on other pages, add the indexifembedded tag in combination with the noindex tag.
See an example of what the code would look like in the image below:
Alternatively, you can specify the tag in the HTTP header.
Refer to the image below for an example of how that would look.
Currently, only Google supports the indexifembedded tag.
Source: Google Search Central Blog
Featured Image: IgorGolovniov/Shutterstock
How Construction Companies Rank In Search
SEO in the homebuilding industry requires a mix of local, on-page, off-page, and technical organic search skills to maximize your ranking potential.
The right balance of these skills and tactics for your organization depends on your:
- Targeting (regional vs. national).
- Business type (custom vs. tract builders).
- Availability of resources to get the work done.
- And growth goals.
While the above factors will help you personalize and tailor your SEO strategy to your unique needs, you need a solid foundation to build from (see what I did there?).
Here are four areas marketers in the homebuilding space should be well aware of to help your residential construction company succeed in search.
1. Required On-Site Content Areas For Homebuilders
Your site is going to have sections devoted to prospects and customers.
Here are five areas your site needs to invest the most in for SEO success:
Floorplan Or Home Plan Pages
The most popular sections of builders’ sites are typically their floorplan pages.
Most of your website investment should go into making these pages full of imagery, specification, localized pricing/features, virtual walkthroughs, FAQs, and video-based content featuring the home designer or architect.
These pages should also be optimized for mobile devices as they may not be able to easily see detailed imagery as well as you could on a desktop or tablet.
Community Or Sales Office Pages
For homebuilders, your community or sales office location pages are your gateways to showing up in local search.
These pages should have a community name, address, and phone number information.
Additionally, for tract builders, each community page should contain information about what it’s like living in the area and a gallery of your homes (with rich localized text descriptions).
Even better if you can include a map with nearby attractions, restaurants, grocery stores, and watering holes.
For custom or on your lot builders, these location pages should also have localized information about:
- The build process.
- Any permits needed.
- Video testimonials from happy customers from that area.
- A gallery of homes built in the area.
- Frequently asked questions (with FAQ schema implemented on the page).
Featured Product Pages
Builders work with a variety of vendors and contractors throughout the build process.
These vendors make an impact on your buyer’s decision because there is an association of the quality of the vendors’ material with the buyer’s perception of the brand.
Homebuilders that have clear product information on their website can use this to their advantage in helping ensure that the buyer feels confident because they are using premium products.
These pages help both from an SEO and a sales process perspective.
For custom homebuilders, buyers need to understand the lengthy, multi-phase process of homebuilding.
You should consider creating a timeline infographic, guide, videos, or a series of articles that describe this.
Most of this content is usually documented internally but builders who can make this public-facing (even if it’s somewhat abbreviated) will help educate and qualify buyers during the sales process.
For tract or spec builders, this content should focus on the financing and selection process of the existing home.
For custom home builders, this needs to speak to a broader range of topics could include:
- Finding land.
- Preparing your land.
- Working with the builder.
- Inspecting the home before moving in.
- And much more.
2. SERP Features For Homebuilders
The high involvement and long home purchase process create several opportunities for showing up for several SERP features.
Homebuilders’ first steps in improving their local SEO presence should involve optimizing and verifying their Google Business Profile(s).
This should be done at the local office or branch level, and you will need to build out a profile for each (sales office or community) location.
After optimizing your GBP, you should now focus on generating 5-star reviews through a review-building program, which will further help you rise in the local SERPs.
Each of your communities (for tract builders) or sales offices (for on-your-lot builders) can show up with an individualized knowledge pack.
The highly visual nature of new homes creates opportunities for builders to show up in image packs.
Image packs typically contain images from the builder’s website as well as reshared images from home building aggregators, YouTube, and local publications.
Along with high-quality photography, homebuilders need to invest in content distribution and PR strategy to disseminate their visual creative assets across channels.
People Also Ask
There are dozens of commonly asked questions that your team members have answered for prospects and customers about the home buying and building process.
If you have a help desk, a lot of this information can be mined from there.
In any case, your website can show up frequently within the People Also Ask (PAA) SERP feature using FAQs on your site.
Further, by implementing FAQ schema, you provide a signal to search engines and are giving your site the best shot at gaining the PAA SERP feature.
FAQ schema is relatively easy to implement depending on your CMS.
3. Off-Page SEO Opportunities
Homebuilders typically have a lot of low-hanging link building opportunities given they are well connected with vendors, partners, and organizations in the community.
Here are two off-page opportunities to invest in.
Homebuilders have relationships with suppliers, trade partners, vendors, contractors, realtors, customers, media, and people though out the community.
The volume of these relationships scales even more broadly when looking at national or regional homebuilders who are found in multiple locations.
Marketers for homebuilders should create a list in their CRM of potential link building opportunities and ensure there is a process to gaining a backlink from every website you have a relationship with.
Generating positive reviews on third-party sites or Google is one of the most impactful off-page SEO opportunities for your team.
As you complete projects with buyers, you should have an automated system for outreach to encourage (happy or high Net Promoter Score) customers to leave reviews on Google, Houzz, New Home Source, and other sites that aggregate builder reviews.
If you are using your CRM to its fullest extent, you should be keeping track of the customers that left you 5-star reviews so that you can work with them in the future to build out case studies, rely on them for customer reference calls or potentially sell to them again in the future.
Along with an automated review request system, you should incentivize your sales team to encourage review building, as well.
Online reviews are worth their weight in gold, and you should be rewarding your sales team (with cash) if they are ones that pushed the customer to leave their online review.
Many review sites prohibit incentivizing your customers to leave reviews, but there are several creative ways to make it easy for them.
4. Common SEO Mistakes To Avoid
The list of common SEO mistakes is long. Here are two that builders should avoid:
Larger homebuilders have more sophisticated CMS functionality that allows for more personalization and localization of content.
Though this can be useful from a UX perspective, you need to balance this with Google’s ability to crawl your site.
If you are hiding specific content from users in certain locations and if Google doesn’t have any means to crawl this hidden content, then you risk not having that content indexed in Google.
Content Deprecation Issues
The other major mistake that is more common with Tract builders is the excessive amount of content that needs to be deprecated and redirected when all the homes in a community are sold out.
New communities have the propensity to generate inbound links, to new communities, from local news and other sources when they are announced to the public.
301 redirection to a relevant category or city page will give you the best opportunity at retaining link equity built up at the URL.
Alternately, you can update the page and let the visitor know the community is sold out but that they should look at the provided list of nearby communities.
As you can see, there are a variety of skill sets and resources that homebuilders need to stand out in local and organic search.
As the competition in this space continues to grow, builders who have a strong local and national SEO presence, a system for generating 5-star reviews across local channels – and most importantly, a raving fan base of happy customers – are going to see the greatest success in the SERPs.
Featured Image: sculpies/Shutterstock
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