2019 is the year digital marketing evolves! Changes! A new age is upon us! Stand up, ye marketers, and rejoice!!
Or, pull up your knickers and get to work. Here’s what you need to do, no matter what:
Psychographic targeting? Awesome! Machine learning for search? Cool! Unless your creative is crap, your landing pages suck, and you can’t write a title tag.
Stay up to date. Try the new stuff. First, though, make sure you’ve nailed the basics because they impact every other digital marketing-ish thing you do:
- Compress your frickin images. Don’t roll your eyes at me. I’ve looked at your site. Do it. Try Squoosh. The name alone makes it worth it. Shave off a half second and watch what happens. If you tell me “Oh, my pages load fast enough already” I’m going to fill your inbox with passive-aggressive networking requests: “I know you’re probably busy, but I wanted to make sure you saw my message…”
- Stop asking me if page speed is a ranking factor. It’s an everything factor.
- Using Google analytics? Make sure all your pages are tagged. Tools like GAChecker make it easy.
- Make sure your site returns the right response codes. If it doesn’t, ask your developer to fix it. If they say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter…” my recommendation used to be to slap them in the face and tell them I told you to, but it’ll just get you in trouble. Instead, I’ll do the verbal equivalent for you if you cover travel expenses and put me up in a nice hotel. That’s with an “h,” not an “m.”
- Buy PPC ads for your brand keywords. It’s cheap. It protects you from reprobates like me who buy ads for your brand keyword that say my client’s products are better than yours.
- Make sure all pages on your site have meta description tags because yeah, they’re still important. The ideal description tag sells the page. It makes me want to read it. A good description tag doesn’t include the site navigation and “about us.”
- Run the Moz Link Explorer. Look at the Top Pages report. If a top page returns a 404 or 30x response, put the page back. Don’t redirect it. Don’t shrug. Put. It. Back. Otherwise, you’re treating authority like a dead goldfish and hurting your SEO. Yes, I linked that to our services page. No need to click.
- Get Grammarly. Because I don’t care if I’m a snob: Bad spelling makes me sad. Bad grammar bugs me.
- Make sure your site’s SSL certificate works. Otherwise, Google Chrome users who visit your site will see all kinds of dire warnings with a teeny, tiny link at the bottom of the page that lets them see your site. Because Google protects us. Google loves us. Enter the warm embrace of Google. Mmmmmmmmmm.
- Put content on your product and service pages. Don’t quarantine it on the blog like it’s a piece of e.coli-laced romaine lettuce. Add one sentence to each page that offers advice, further information, or a bit of entertainment related to whatever’s on the page.
- Look at the most frequently asked questions you receive via email, phone, or in person. Make sure you answer them on relevant pages. If you shove them into a 5,000-word FAQ page, you get what you deserve.
- Use Moz Keyword Explorer and/or AnswerThePublic.com to find every question asked about whatever it is you offer. Answer those on relevant pages.
- Use bullets or numbers for lists. Anything else is too much work for the reader, first because you’re still trying to read this, second because now you’re considering giving up, and third because if you’re still reading this one you have far better mental fortitude than I.
- Log into your Google Ads account. Go into your campaign settings. Unless you know what they mean, uncheck “Display Network” and “Search Partners.” The alternative can be embarrassing.
- Set up a separate campaign for the Search Network. Only use the Display Network if you know what you’re doing. Or if you’re high. Or if you’re handling someone else’s advertising and they’ve treated you like Montresor.
- Insert obscure literary references into your content. It livens things up.
- Run paid ads on Bing. 5–10% of the entire internet-using public is still an awful lot.
- If you share something on Facebook, pay to boost/promote it to your followers. Otherwise, they probably won’t see it. By “probably” I mean “definitely.” There are lots of nuances and best practices, but for now, splurge: Spend ten bucks when you post something you want folks to see.
- Before you use that stock image, search for it. See who else is using it. The brand you save may be your own.
Did the basics? Time to dig deeper.
- Yeah, yeah, you’re brilliant. Unless you ignore the basic stuff. Then you’re a bit of a goober. Read Basic, above, and get to work.
- Learn to use LinkedIn Advertising. This is more of a beginner thing, but there’s a learning curve. Knowing Facebook does not prepare you for using LinkedIn.
- Use Facebook for some B2B marketing. Your B2B customers are on there, too.
- Use this tool to test content accessibility on your site. You don’t need to score 100%. You do need to take the report seriously and fix the obvious stuff (from front-end dev and H1-level nerd Jeremiah Bratton)
- Learn what server-side caching is. Turn it on. Or use a service like Cloudflare. Otherwise: Inbox. Networking requests. Again with the don’t-ask-me-if-it’s-a-ranking-factor-thing. See above.
- Google Analytics again: Enable Smart Goals.
Separate your campaigns by device type.
- Set up Bing Webmaster Tools. It’s the best SEO tool you’re not using right now.
- Install the Facebook Pixel Helper Use it.
- Use the “capping” system on paid media platforms when bidding on anything from CPM, to clicks, to conversions. It’ll prevent those late-night fiscal apocalypses and help you figure out where you’ve left money on the table. (from Portent’s overall marketing and social media nerd Alex DeLeon)
- Be careful with Gutenberg
- Even if you’re “not a designer,” learn some basic web typography. If reading your content makes my eyes bleed, I won’t be back.
- Get Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider and learn to use it. It’s sooooo easy.
- Still starved for content ideas? Find your most-popular, most-linked pages that are more than one year old. Update them.
- Break up blog posts into social posts. Use them to drive traffic to the blog posts.
- Break up ebooks into blog posts. Use them to drive traffic to the ebooks.
- Don’t change content URLs when you update!!!!
Now, do your nerd yoga:
- Think you’re too good for the basics? You’re not. Go to the top of this page. Do the basic stuff. Then the intermediate. Then start on advanced.
- Once you’ve got Google Tag Manager in place, enrich your dataLayer using an IP lookup service with JSON return. http://ip-api.com/docs/api:json (from Portent Analytics genius Michael Wiegand – great googly-moogly, Michael shows up here a lot)
- Go into Google Search Console and read the URLs listed as “Crawled – currently not indexed” in the Coverage report. Identify which pages are important and need to be indexed. Fix them (from Portent technical SEO Evan Hall).
- Use googly-moogly in at least one piece of content per quarter. It’s refreshing. Or just write with some personality. Your choice.
- Get Screaming Frog’s Log File Analyser and learn to use it. Your log files are the most accurate source of raw site usage data. Assuming your dev team set them up correctly. If they didn’t gently ask them to please kindly bring your web servers into the 21st century.
- Prune the house email list. No sense ruining it by getting tagged as spam. I made this “advanced” because there’s a learning curve. Be careful.
- If you’re going to throw around words like “artificial intelligence,” learn the difference between narrow and general AI. Unless you think you’ll enjoy the day you end up in a room pitching your marketing services, and some wiseass says “Really? AI?” and takes the entire conversation off the rails.
- Try creating some content using Github and Markdown. For me.
For The Win
- Change your WordPress password. If you don’t, you might spend two days smacking yourself in the forehead while sifting through your site looking for links built by marketers who are too lazy to do real off-page SEO. I have a good friend who just went through this experience. Someone else. Not me. No way. I’m too smart for that. Cough.
- Don’t rely on this list. Build on it. Make your own. Because I don’t know you, I don’t know your brand, and I’m just a ranty marketer in Seattle who wrote this while stressed out about holiday shopping.
PS: I hate checklists. Please don’t tell.