In his recent webinar, Red Abbott, Manager of Consulting Services at Finalsite, takes a look at some of the things you will love and hate about digital marketing in 2018. In the webinar, Red takes a closer look at marketing trends in search, advertising and social media in the ever-changing digital marketing world.
What Schools Will Love About Digital Marketing in 2018
There are many exciting things happening in the digital marketing world in 2018. The following are the top four strategies that you should be excited to use in the coming year.
Posts from Google My Business
In the backend of your Google My Business (GMB), you can utilize a feature called posts. Posts allow you to promote events within your knowledge panel on Google, similar to how the Hillman Center for Performing Arts is promoting their events.
You can configure these posts within the Google My Business posts panel. Posts do not require you to pay to promote your events. You can also get statistics on how many people see your GMB posts based on searches that trigger your knowledge graphs. Posts can be beneficial for advertising admissions fairs, open houses, summer camps and much more.
Expanded Descriptions in Google Search
Google has expanded the character limit for the description that shows in the organic search results page snippet. The snippet of text underneath your title and URL in the search results page is called a meta description. With your content management systems, you will be able to update the meta description tags for each page on your site.
Previously, the meta description was typically about two lines of text or 150 characters. Now, Google displays up to four lines of text or 300 characters. This extra space enables you to include more information about your school. Although meta descriptions are not a ranking factor, they are still a great way to encourage searchers to click on your website.
Advanced Site Search
Finalsite has moved away from Google's custom search engine as the source of on-site search. Visitors use on-site search bars when they want to find something on your site. Technology that has advanced capabilities now powers these search bars.
One of the advanced features of the site search is a live results preview in a drop-down format. If you started to type tuit," a drop-down would appear with examples of pages about tuition which is what you most likely are searching for when you type "tuit." Also, users can find exactly what they want with advanced syntax. Users can use quotation marks to search phrases or exclude words using the minus symbol in front of the word.
You can configure your site search with synonyms. For example, you could configure your site to use calendar and schedule interchangeably. Because there are many terms relating to schools that families use differently, having the synonym site search will help show relevant results when users search for similar terms. You can also configure search rules to help you ensure specific pages appear at the top of search results when certain terms are searched.
Each of the features mentioned above are additional features you can receive if you upgrade to our advanced site search module.
In today's world, reviews matter because they are highly influential. For example, if you search for something like "philadelphia private schools" you will see the carousel and an advertisement. The majority of the remaining search results are directories, rankings and review sites.
Also, reviews are important for branded searches. When you search for a specific school like The Walker School, you'll notice reviews are present within the knowledge graph and the organic search result listings. If your school only has one review, getting one negative review could drastically reduce your ratings. The more reviews you have, the less effect a new bad review will have on your overall rating.
To get more positive reviews, look for the families that will stand by your school no matter what. Asking them to leave a review to help your school grow is a great place to start building your online reviews. To find people that would be likely to recommend your school to a friend, you can use a survey that uses a net promoter score. Anyone who responds a 9 or 10 out of 10 is likely to recommend your school to a friend and will most likely give a positive review. These are the people you want to start reaching out to and sending to review sites.
Free Webinar On Demand – Online Review: Why Care and What to Do
What Trends You May Dislike in 2018?
Now that we have looked at some of the most exciting digital marketing changes for 2018, we will take a look at a few new changes that you may strongly dislike.
Search as a Solution
Originally, Google presented 10 of what they thought were the best resources to satisfy the need of the searcher. Now, Google is trying to solve a searcher's problem right on the results page. This idea is illustrated based on a search for "philadelphia eagles." I didn't tell Google exactly what I was looking for about the Eagles, but they are returning results that may be all I'm looking for like game scores.
Another example of how Google offers solutions to users' searches is with featured snippets. In the following featured snippet, Google is trying to satisfy the question you have about "lawrenceville school tuition" without you actually needing to go to their website. This result is from 17 years ago and still appears at the top in the featured snippet.
Google will not stop presenting theses featured snippets anytime soon. The problem with these snippet articles is that information may be old or from sources other than your website.
Search as a Moving Target
Search algorithms are constantly changing which can be hard to manage. The change in search results features impact the way that users find your website. One example is the job search feature which presents jobs that could come from Zip Recruiter, LinkedIn or individual school sites. Through these job listings, users may be directed to your site.
Another example is the suggested searches Google recommends. When users navigate to a search result and don't find what they are looking for, they will return to the search results page. Google recognizes that the user didn't find what they were looking for and now offers suggestions for other terms to search for. These suggested searches, which are usually at the bottom, are now being pulled to the top to help users find what they are looking for more efficiently.
Facebook's Algorithm Change
Facebook's recent algorithm change is something many businesses have concerns about in 2018. Posts from businesses are going to be less and less prevalent on Facebook news feeds with the new change. Instead, users will see a larger percentage of their news feed coming from friends they follow.
Individual users do have the opportunity to override this algorithm change and prioritize the pages and posts they are most interested in. Getting your users to update these settings will be important to ensure followers continue to see your content.
Succeed at Digital Marketing in 2018
Trends in the digital marketing world are constantly changing. There may be some changes you love and some you hate, but either way, you need to learn how to adapt your strategies to adjust for the algorithm changes in search and social media. If you need help managing your digital marketing in 2018, contact us today!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's Content Marketing Manager, and Marketing Manager for Public Schools, Mia creates content that is helpful to public schools and districts. As a former TV and news reporter, freelance cinematographer and certified inbound marketer, Mia specializes in helping schools find new ways to share their stories online through web design, social media, copywriting, photography and videography. She is the author of numerous blogs, and Finalsite's popular eBook, The Website Redesign Playbook.