4 Ways to Make Social Media Work for You in 2019

Any comprehensive online marketing plan should include social media. But unlike days of yore, not just any—or every—social media platform will do. To effectively use social media to market your business in 2019, there are some new strategies you may need to employ.

#1: Messaging Apps—They’re Where You Need to be to Connect

There are some industry influencers who believe that giant social media platforms have seen their peak. In other words, active daily use of social media channels like Facebook and Twitter will (slowly) decline.

Contributing to the abandonment of platforms that have been household names for years (and that’s a long time in the Digital Age) is users’ lack of trust. Users no longer have confidence that social media giants are keeping their data private or their best interests at the fore. Still, users want to digitally connect to their family, friends, interest-based communities and brands they like. So where are they going? Messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger.

Messaging apps have the potential for more genuine engagement with your existing and potential customers because the interaction can be one-on-one rather than publicly broadcast posts. Both the messaging platform and the more personalized interaction facilitate a higher level of trust in and with your brand, and that’s crucial to sustainability.

#2: Be Highly Selective in Your Choice of Social Media Platforms

For any social media marketing to work, you need to maintain an active and engaging presence; otherwise, you’re just wasting your time. And, you only have to maintain an active social media account for a minute to know that it’s a lot of work:

  • Taking/selecting/editing images for visually appealing posts
  • Posting frequently enough (but not too much)
  • Posting on a variety of topics
  • Responding to comments, commenting on others’ posts
  • Building your following
  • Managing your networks

…and the list just goes on.

To ensure that you get the best return for your investment of time (and time is money), you may need to scale back on where you are present online so that your social media presence is a valuable one.

The decision to launch a new social media account or let one die should not be guesswork. Look at your performance metrics to find out where your target audience are spending their time and which platform(s) are generating useful activity—e.g., traffic to your website, online mentions, shares and links, conversions, etc. Those are the accounts worth the effort to maintain.

#3: Increase Social Ad Spend Cautiously

Increasingly, to get visibility by new social media users, you need to invest in ads on the platform. Not surprisingly, social media ad spend is expected to continue to rise for the next few years. But, an increase in ad spend is also an indicator of an increase in ad saturation and competition for users’ attention.

Social media ads can deliver good ROI, but only if you take care to analyze which platforms offer the best visibility to your target market.

#4: Make Your Brand More Engaging with Podcasts and Videos

Social media users visit their favorite platforms to get informed, be entertained and connect. It takes more than text and static images to meet their expectations.

2019 will continue to see an increase in video content, so consider making your brand video-visible through:

  • Short captioned videos
  • Longer videos that reside on popular video-based platforms like YouTube and IGTV
  • Livestream events

Podcasts are also growing in popularity as they provide users the opportunity to stay current on topics they care about virtually anywhere (even behind the wheel of a car or during a jog).

Online software allows just about anyone to record and edit video productions, making it a realistic social media strategy for nearly any budget.

The first step to improving your social media marketing performance in 2019 is to take stock of what’s working and what’s not. If you find that you need help to maintain the engaging presence your users expect, call in the pros. Contact SonicSEO.com for a social media marketing consultation.

How to Use Mobile Stats and Trends to Improve Your Conversion Rate

Mobile usage surpassed desktop usage in 2016. Google “officialized” their priority of the mobile users experience through the mobile-first indexing initiative that finally rolled out last spring. But a responsive website is not enough to ensure online success…at least not if you want something more than increased views.

Mobile use statistics from 2018 and forecasts for 2019 can help you understand how to tweak your mobile presence for improved conversion rates.

A Refresher on Internet Statistic Lingo

Just to be clear before we dig into facts and figures, here’s how we define our terms:

User/Viewer: a human behind the mobile device actually looking at your website, ad, native app, etc.

Conversion: the process by which a viewer becomes an actual lead or customer. What constitutes a conversion is determined by each business. For example, some companies may consider the completion of a subscription form or download of trial software as a conversion while others may require the completed sale of a product/service.

App: an application that is downloaded and installed onto a mobile device. An app can pull data from the internet (and other apps when users grant permission). A (mobile) website, on the other hand, is not downloaded but is accessed through a mobile browser like Safari or Chrome.

Bases covered. Moving on…

Key Mobile Usage Insights

Every year, Hosting Facts updates its list of internet, ecommerce, mobile and social media facts and statistics. They look at hundreds of data points and bullet a number of neat-to-knows, but some nuggets are particularly useful for online marketers.

Key insights from their Internet Stats & Facts 2019 include:

  • By 2020, 45% of all ecommerce will be mobile commerce…by 2021 that is expected to jump to 67%
  • Although the majority of internet traffic comes from mobile devices, users spend more time on websites they access on desktops
  • Most time spent on mobile devices is spent on apps
  • Engagement on apps is significantly higher (like, 300% higher) than on mobile websites
  • Mobile users do not like ads and are increasingly using mobile ad blockers
  • 82% of mobile users use their device to research potential purchases in a brick-and-mortar store

Clearly, mobile device usage for everything, including shopping, is trending up. That’s easy to see. What is less obvious is how to translate these facts and stats into actionable items to improve your online visibility and conversion rate.

Takeaways: How to Improve Your Mobile Conversions

Some of the takeaways from 2018 facts and 2019 forecasts are obvious, like:

  • You need a mobile presence

If your website looks great on a desktop but loads slowly or renders too big to be easily readable on a mobile device, mobile users won’t waste their time waiting or resizing…and that will increase your bounce rate (that’s no good). So, you absolutely must have a mobile website.

One word of caution, though: do not upgrade or enhance your mobile site at the expense of desktop viewing. Remember, internet users are still spending more time on sites viewed on desktops, so the full-size experience still matters, too.

  • Consider developing a mobile app

An app (or progressive web app) is a significant investment, but for ecommerce-driven businesses, it may be worth the money because of the increase in user engagement, which enhances conversion potential.

More nuanced online marketing advice from these facts and stats include:

  • Thoughtfully define what a conversion is for your business

Because mobile users may be using their devices for purchases made offline, you need to know how to measure your mobile online marketing efforts. Defining a conversion and how to measure conversion rate will help you know how and where to spend your online marketing budget so that you do not choke mobile marketing and, in turn, tank your overall sales.

  • Do not neglect your SEO

Organic search results are still going to be essential to getting your website found when users are researching potential purchases or getting your native app found when they’re browsing app stores. Effective SEO for mobile usage must incorporate voice-activated search trends as well as cater to search engines’ mobile-first preferences, like data structuring and AMP. 

Your SEO should also involve carefully crafted content—text, images and other media—that informs, entertains and, most importantly, compels viewers to fully convert to leads or consumers.

  • Carefully evaluate mobile ad spend

Mobile ad spend is expected to significantly increase. However, given mobile users’ dislike of ads and ad-blocking capabilities, dumping a ton of money into mobile ads may not deliver the visibility increase you’re looking for. This is not to say that you should not increase your mobile ad spend—only that you carefully select the platforms and continuously monitor your mobile ads’ performance to maximize your ROI.

SonicSEO.com clients do not need to stress over 2019 mobile usage trends. Your online presence is already optimized for mobile viewing and conversion.

But, if you’re left trying to translate stats, facts and forecasts into an executable online marketing strategy on your own, get expert help. Contact SonicSEO.com for comprehensive digital marketing geared to boost your visibility and performance in the mobile-first internet.

How to Create a User Intent SEO Strategy


You may be wondering, “What does user intent have to do with SEO?” Simple. Search engines are in the business of delivering quality, relevant results. The relevancy of search results is largely driven by the intent behind the search—i.e., the type of information searchers are hunting for. In order to perform well in the organic search engine results pages, your pages need to do more than match searchers’ query terms; your pages need to provide the information that matches their intent. And, that may be easier than you think.

Types of User Intent

To adjust your SEO strategy to accommodate user intent, you first have to know exactly what their search intentions are. Research into user behavior breaks user intent into three main categories:

  1. Informational

    Users are performing research. Users with this intent are often looking for:

    • How-to guides
    • Step-by-step instructions
    • Background/historical data

    Searchers with informational intent are not ready to purchase products or services.

  2. Navigational

    Users are comparing options to help them make a decision. Users with this intent often perform searches formulated like “The best X [product, service, brand] for Y [purpose]” or “reviews on Z”.

    Users with navigational intent are not yet ready to purchase products or services but have identified general products or services that may meet their needs.

  3. Transactional

    Users with transactional intent are ready to buy, so their searches are intended to locate the ecommerce platform, brick-and-mortar location and/or contact information to complete their transaction.

As you can see, each type of intent maps onto a different stage of the customer journey:

Revamping Your SEO Strategy to Include User Intent

The keys to creating an SEO strategy that effective incorporates user intent are:

  1. Include content on your website that meets all types of user intent (but not the same page)
  2. Match user intent with appropriate keywords and content types

Let’s break that down further…

Evaluate the content of each page on your website.

Make a simple table like this:

Web Page Title What type of intent is the content on the page likely to satisfy?
Home  
About Us  
Services  

With each page’s user intent identified, you can determine if you have content that meets all types of user intent. Many websites have mostly transactional content. That’s a cue to create content for prospective customers in the Awareness and Consideration stages of the buying journey who are looking for informative and navigational content, respectively. (If you don’t want to clog up your website navigation with new pages, consider adding a blog where you can tackle informative and navigational topics like “What every consumer needs to know about…” and “How to choose the best…” and “Top 10 widgets to simplify your life”.)

Analyze your metrics to create an actionable content strategy

Your Google Analytics tells you the top search terms by which users are finding each page. Use that information to determine which web pages need revision.


Optimizing for user intent is an SEO practice that can:

  • Decrease your bounce rate
  • Generate quality traffic
  • Increase your conversion rate

By matching keyword terms, content and user intent, you can achieve better, sustainable search engine performance.

The Quick Guide to Using Instagram to Market Your Business


Whether you are considering adding Instagram to your social media marketing efforts or want to know how to boost the effectiveness of your existing Instagram account, you’ve come to the right place. The social media marketing pros at SonicSEO.com have put together a quick guide to help you build an Instagram presence that really works for your business.

Before You Instagram

Like any other social media platform, creating and maintaining an Instagram account will take work. So, before you dedicate countless hours compiling, editing and posting photos and videos, take some time to consider:

  1. Is Instagram right for your business?

    In mid-2018, Instagram reached one billion users and is steadily growing, but the presence of millions of daily active users alone does not mean that Instagram will be the best social media marketing channel for your business.

    Instagram is a visually-driven platform, which is ideal for businesses that:

    • Can generate a lot of visually attractive content, for instance:
      • Clothing designers and retailers
      • Food growers and distributors
      • Restaurants and eateries
      • Car dealerships, auto body shops and customization garages
      • Adventure sport sponsors, retailers and event venues
    • Can dedicate the time and human resources to take, compile and edit the images and videos needed to maintain an active, attractive Instagram account.
  2. Who is your target audience?

    Instagram user demographics cross every age group, income bracket, level of education, etc. However, the majority of Instagram users are:

    • Ages 18-34
    • Educated (have at least some college, although most have a degree)
    • Urban or suburban dwellers

    Men and women use Instagram pretty evenly.

    User demographics indicate that Instagram is a good choice for businesses targeting Millennials who live in or near big cities and are likely (tech-)savvy consumers.

  3. What results do you want to see from your Instagram marketing efforts?

    Before you spend your time carefully selecting, editing and captioning your images and videos, know what you want viewers to do in response to your posts. Define goals for your Instagram account, such as:

    • Raise awareness of your brand
    • Drive more traffic to your website
    • Generate more sales
    • Attract new talent

    Having clear goals will help you determine how you can effectively measure your Instagram account’s success as well as how to adapt your posting strategy to improve performance.

Branding on Instagram

To make Instagram work for your business, your business has to be recognizable on Instagram. Considering the sheer volume of visual content that bombards users every time they open their app, this is a challenge. To help Instagram users quickly distinguish your posts from competitors’ or random “noise,” consciously create:

  • Branded visual content

    Of course, you want to use a variety of images—some of people, some of places, some of products, some of human-interest topics. However, among the variety, you must:

    • Use images that are relevant to your brand—your industry, your product/service line, your corporate culture/personality
    • Create a consistent image feel—in other words, use images that create a similar layout and/or mood, perhaps by applying one “trademark” filter or effect

    Avoid the temptation to literally brand your images by always prominently featuring your name and/or logo.

  • Branded textual content

    A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but a captioned picture is worth more! Use the space and search capabilities Instagram allows to create unique hashtags that are easy to remember and inspire engagement.

    Brand your textual content by defining grammatical and stylistic guidelines (like, emojis or no emojis) that reflect your company’s culture/personality.

Engaging on Instagram

Effective Instagram marketing is a balancing act. You want to post often, but not too often. You also know you need to engage to get engagement with your brand, but you don’t want to waste time following and commenting on the wrong posts or accounts. To help you find that balance:

  • Test when and how often to post

    There is no posting schedule or time table that works for everyone. To find the best times to post and number of posts per day or week, you simply have to test your activity. But to shave off some trial-and-error time, do:

    • Post at least once daily
    • Post at times research indicates people are most likely to check-in to their tech-mediated networks* to see when your users are most active
  • Define criteria for who is follow- and/or comment-worthy

    On Instagram, you will be judged by the company you keep, so be wary of the accounts you follow and posts you comment on. Again, there are no hard and fast rules for who to engage with or whom to avoid. But, your social media team should discuss guidelines to make sure you associate with quality accounts and that your comments conform to the same stylistic guidelines as your own posts and maintain a consistent persona.

To make Instagram work for your business, there is a lot about your business and your business’ online persona and reputation you need to consider and clarify before posting so that your time is well spent and your images and videos are well received by your target audience.

* 8:30-10:00 am, 2:30-3:30 pm, 8:00 pm -12:00 am

What to Expect in 2019

What's Next?

We are edging ever closer to the end of 2018. To maintain your search visibility in the New Year, we need to look ahead at what’s likely to be in store for the SEO world in 2019. At SonicSEO.com, here’s what we see as the drivers for search engine performance:

Shrinking Organic SERP Space

Like the algorithm used to deliver search results, the layout of those results on the page evolves, too. We’ve already seen organic search results (the blue links) get pushed down the page by sponsored ads and other search engine-owned properties. This is not going to change, and in fact, those search engine-owned properties are likely to get bigger and present more useful information that keeps users on the search engine’s landing pages (not yours).

So, how can you get or keep search engine visibility if your link is, by no fault of your website’s performance, slipping further and further down the page?

Be visible in the snippets. To do that, you need to provide and present the information that search engines want to deliver to their users at a glance or with minimal clicking so that the algorithm selects your information to populate its snippets.

Places you may want to include in your SEO efforts are:

  • Google maps
  • Google Knowledge Graph cards
  • Google Quick Answer
  • Google People Also Ask

Getting seen in these spaces may entail optimizing other online presences, like:

  • Google My Business listing
  • Yelp profile

Appearing in these above-the-fold spaces may also entail presenting information in easy-to-consume formats, like tables and graphs, FAQs, infographics, etc. Implementing search engine-preferred data structures will also increase the chances that your website will be featured in these high-visibility boxes, drop-downs and carousels.

User Experience and Rank Brain’s Learning Curve

Google has moved beyond just mathematically-driven algorithms to implement machine learning to deliver better results to its users. Google’s AI, Rank Brain, translates search terms into concepts in order to find relevant results (some of which may not even contain the keywords used to perform the search!). But that’s only the beginning…

Rank Brain takes cues from user behavior to find out if/how human users find the results relevant. With Rank Brain, the link between user behavior metrics and ranking performance is more transparent. So, to maintain or improve ranking potential, you need to develop a strategy to:

  • Increase organic click-through rates (CTR)
  • Increase time spent on page
  • Decrease bounce rate

These metrics are driven by UX factors like:

  • Fast page loading speed
  • Intuitive navigation
  • Value-added content

All meta elements on the page should also be optimized.

The Preference for Video

Today’s internet users prefer video content. Cisco estimates that by 2021, 80% of all content on the web will be video. So, if you’ve been relying on the written word, it may be time to embrace moving pictures, too.

To be clear, video does not have to (and should not) replace your textual content, but rather complement it. In fact, some of your textual content can actually be video-ized to allow for easier visual consumption.

Although the content format itself is not a ranking factor, the format heavily informs user behavior and experience…and that means video content may end up performing better under Rank Brain.

Only time will tell if these trends will take on the SEO significance we predict. But, while our fortune-telling may leave something to be desired, our ability to keep pace with what actually does happen in the SEO world doesn’t. You can count on SonicSEO.com to know about and adapt to search engine updates and user trends to preserve your ranking potential.

 

SEO Is Never Done…and What That Means For You

SEOYou have a website…check.

You’ve had that website designed and engineered by SEO professionals…check.

So, you’re search marketing is done, right?

Wrong.

Search engine optimization is an ongoing process, one that never really ends. Search engine algorithms and user behavior are always evolving. But what does that mean for you, a SonicSEO.com client, the small business person looking to expand your market share through the internet?

There Are Always New Strategies to Implement

Search engines are always updating their algorithms to deliver better results to their users, and they are not telling search marketers how to achieve those better results. So, search marketers must identify, adjust and test various elements to find out what works to help clients climb organic search results. That means our SEO professionals are always busy analyzing data, looking for trends and identifying new techniques to help ranking potential.

New techniques may be implemented alone or as part of an overall revamped SEO strategy to get better results. It doesn’t matter which approach we take. The point is that there is always something else coming down the pike that may affect your ranking and adaptations to protect and improve your ranking—i.e., SEO is never done.

It Takes Time to See Results

There are always new strategies to try, and every single one will take some time to see how it affects your search visibility. There are some (very few) techniques that can deliver instant results—like correcting a “Do Not Follow” command so that search engines index pages you want them and human users to find. But most SEO techniques and strategies take time—weeks, even months—to yield results. And there’s good reason for that…

The results you want are to get found and clicked, have users stay on your site and ultimately convert to paying customers or quality leads. Even if you immediately rocket to the top of organic search engine results pages (and beware of SEO companies who promise that you will), it will take time before human users see you there, click through your site and decide to choose you. You simply cannot speed up their search process or buying cycle.

The Latest Fads Are Likely Not the Right Solution

There are some ranking factors that just don’t change, so there are some SEO strategies that just don’t change, like delivering quality content and complying with search engine-preferred data structuring. However, because search engine algorithms are continually evolving, SEO tactics must change. But, in the scramble to gain immediate ranking boost or maintain rank after an update, search marketers often stumble upon some interesting work-arounds and tricks.

Some of these adaptations show lasting results, so they become part of SEO best practices. Most, though, end up being fads that either have short-lived performance or end up hurting your ranking potential. An SEO company with years of industry experience is better positioned to recognize fads vs. evolutions in how SEO is done.

The takeaway of all this is really simple: find an SEO company you trust, and then let them do what they do best. The professionals at SonicSEO.com stay current on algorithm updates, search trends, evolutions within the industry, and they apply this knowledge to your website to maintain your search visibility. Because it is your website’s and business’ performance at stake, you are welcome to ask about your search performance and inquire about SEO stuff you’ve come across. We proactively keep you informed with monthly metrics and are happy to answer your questions. All you have to do is contact us.

5 SEO Myths Debunked

SEO mythsSearch engine optimization is not an exact science. Search algorithms change frequently, and with them ranking performance. But since search engine companies are not providing inside glimpses to how their algorithms rank sites, the vacuum is filled with best guesses, anecdotal information and, unfortunately, just plain misinformation.

Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation about SEO persists, leading companies to make bad decisions about their websites and internet marketing strategies. To boost your SEO success, these are some of the most pernicious myths you need to steer clear of:

Myth #1: Loading Speed Doesn’t Matter

Honestly, we’re not sure who would make up such a boldfaced lie. Page loading speed most certainly does matter especially in a mobile-first environment. If you can believe it, mobile users are even less patient than desktop users when it comes to page loading. That is why Google has been public about its preference for AMP (accelerated mobile pages). Whatever you can do to speed up page loading, do it!

Myth #2: Links Don’t Matter

Happily, the black hat SEO technique of link buying has significantly declined, but not because links are not important. Inbound links are still a ranking factor…and that makes sense because 1) inbound links facilitate indexing of your site as it points search engine bots to your content from a number of sources and 2) access to your content from multiple sources is a popularity signal. However, to positively impact your ranking, links need to be from quality relevant sources. Create sharable content and be proactive about getting/asking for links from industry influencers.

Myth #3: Content Is ALL that Matters

Content matters. That’s not debatable. However, content is not the only aspect of your website that does matter. Re-read the above sections—page loading speed and links matter, too…as does metadata and data structuring. In other words, your ranking is not solely (not even mostly, in some cases) determined by on-page elements that viewers see or read. You need the off-page technical elements for top ranking potential.

Myth #4: Keyword Density Drives Ranking

Arising from the “content is all that matters” myth is the myth that the number of times you use a keyword phrase (per total words used) directly affects your organic ranking. In the old (like, decades-old) days of search engine ranking, this was true. But algorithms are a lot more sophisticated now. They can “read between the lines,” so to speak, so content can rank for key search terms without actually having an exact keyword match in the content!

We’re not suggesting you abandon keywords. Rather, we’re suggesting that you focus on the usefulness and quality of the content you publish. Keywords and topic relevance will arise naturally (and that’s especially good for voice-activated search performance).

Myth #5: All Content Needs to Be Fresh

Years ago, Google (and other search engines that followed suit) introduced the “Query Deserves Freshness” criterion. This factor rewarded new and/or newly updated content, and that sparked a lot of content revisions as people scrambled to freshen up all of their content everywhere on the web. But that’s not necessary, and in many cases, not SEO-beneficial.

QDF does not and was never intended to be applied to every search. And making nominal changes to key pages on your site is likely not enough to be rewarded for content freshness. Plus, too many changes will just confuse your viewers, spiking your bounce rates, which tanks your ranking potential.

A better approach is to continually add new content to your website through a blog.

Want to make sure you’re doing SEO right? If you’re a SonicSEO.com client, then your work is already done. If you’ve fallen prey to SEO mythology, then call in the experts for help. Contact SonicSEO.com for a free SEO consultation.

How Social Media Affects SEO

Social MediaYou do not need to be an internet marketing insider to know that social media marketing is important…and that its importance is going to continue to be a factor to companies’ search marketing success into the new year (and many years to come). But, what you may not realize is that social media in itself—the presence on any platform, how many likes or followers you have, etc.—are not actually ranking factors for your website. So, how exactly does social media affect your SEO?

It’s All about the Traffic

No matter how many iterations any search engine’s algorithm has gone through, a site’s popularity has always been (and will likely always remain) a ranking factor. And one of the best, most powerful or accurate indicators of popularity is traffic—the number of unique visitors to a site. So, when you can increase the number of new viewers clicking on your site, the better your ranking potential.

Social media has HUGE potential to drive traffic your way, thereby indirectly boosting your organic ranking.

How to Use Social Media to Increase Website Traffic

For many internet users, social media is often an end in and of itself. In other words, users have to be compelled to leave the platform and their network to explore your website. So, the first way to make your social media work for your SEO is to post content that inspires curiosity and/or promises to meet a pressing need.

But do not just post content that gets users curious about you with no outlet for that curiosity. You need to include a quick portal to get to your site—links—so that viewers bypass search altogether. It sounds counterintuitive, but when you are attracting new viewers from social media platforms, you do not want to run the risk of them finding your competitors in organic search results.

But you aren’t that new to social media. You’ve probably already done this. So, what else can you do to generate website traffic via social media?

Be proactive but not pushy. Here are two approaches:

Tap into Relevant Conversations

Conversations relevant to your brand or industry are happening beyond your own Facebook page or Twitter feed. Find them and join in. There are a number of tools you can use to search the web—social media and other forums—for keywords relevant to your products and services. These tools allow you to find where users are asking for product/service recommendations, giving informal reviews or simply sharing who/what/where/when info that helps you keep the pulse of your target market.

When you find conversations going on about/around/in your industry, jump in. Do not push your products or services, but genuinely engage with your audience. Be helpful and informative. Make those with whom you’re engaging curious about your brand. Make them want to know more about you…and give them the link to where you want them to find that information.

Build in Links and Linking Opportunities

When you tap into conversations relevant to your products, services and/or industry, pay attention to names/handles that pop up frequently—these are likely industry influencers. A mention/link from these individuals can send scores of new viewers to your site (the inbound link itself—if from an authoritative, relevant source—has SEO value). To get a mention or link, first link to the influencer’s content. That may be enough to inspire a reciprocal gesture. If not, make the direct ask.

The success of your social media marketing by itself and as a website traffic generator depend on quality content, and producing that alone can be a full-time job. If you do not have the resources to maintain an engaging social media presence, let the professionals at SonicSEO.com help. Contact us to schedule a free social media marketing consultation.