Recently Emily sat down with Inc.com to discuss the new trends of 2016
Turning the calendar to January is a surprisingly strong catalyst for entrepreneurs. The first quarter is the most popular time of year for the launch of new companies, according to the Small Business Association, and has been for the past twenty years. Increasingly, it’s also the hottest time of year for the creation of new website names.
“The surge in registration of new websites starts in January and really continues through the first quarter,” says Mike McLaughlin, SVP of domains for GoDaddy, one of the largest purveyors of domain names.
But making a splash online means more than just claiming a piece of online real estate. It also means designing the right kind of website to draw attention to your company, and proactively engaging potential customers through searches and social media platforms. With that in mind, consider the following five factors as you amp up your online presence.
1) Forget single-page websites The popularity of the “infinite scroll” website, where content continues to populate the page as a site visitor scrolls down, continues to grow, but you should resist jumping on this bandwagon, according to digital marketing agency Tsunela.
“They’re beautiful to look at, but the functionality is limited,” says Tsunela digital marketing manager Emily Phillippi.
That’s in part because the glut of images on a single, virtually never-ending page slows download times, potentially losing impatient viewers. Even more importantly, mashing topics together confounds search engines and can tank a company’s SEO efforts.
“A multi-page site gives you more chances to be known for all of the things that your company does,” says Phillippi.
2) Rethink your domain name There was a time, not long ago, when any company registering a domain name assumed they would opt for a ‘dot-com’website name, and if that wasn’t available, maybe, begrudgingly, a ‘dot-net.’
It’s a whole new ballgame today. Hundreds of new options are available, everything from ‘dot-agency’(.agency) to ‘dot-world’(.world), and companies are increasingly seeing the value in breaking free from the ‘dot-com’herd.
In fact, approximately 12 percent of start-ups are now using a “not-com” website name, according to Clutch, a research firm focused on professional services companies. “It’s small, but growing pretty quickly,” says GoDaddy’s McLaughlin of the not-com phenomenon. (Fun fact: At the moment, ‘dot-xyz’(.xyz) is GoDaddy’s most popular not-com name, a trend that began even before Google parent Alphabet launched abc.xyz).
The reasons to consider a not-com domain name run from the practical (the ‘dot-com’ domain that fits most logically with your business name may already be taken) to the more forward thinking: many companies now realize that their website address can perfectly replicate their full company name, which, as Sam Rooeintan, founder of design firm Marstudio, notes, “breathes a whole new life into branding.”
3) Use more video Businesses have a great opportunity to generate a constant conversation with customers through the increased use of video on their websites and social media, says Mollie Culligan, founder of LA-based branding agency Nom de Plume. But there are a couple of rules. One, make it short but evocative. “You want to create micromoments; little grabs that make someone laugh, or feel sentimental, or feel something, as long as it’s in line with the brand,” she says. Two, prioritize authenticity over film quality. Most people “would rather watch a low-quality video that’s really interesting than a perfect one that’s boring.”
4) Cover your bases when it comes to paid search Excelling at SEO (a.k.a. search engine optimization)isn’t enough; it’s also important to bid for keywords through paid search. That exercise can easily seem like it’s all about Google, but think again. “Google does have 80% of the market share, but we always advise clients not to ignore the other 20%, because that may convert better” to sales, says Tsunela’s Phillippi. That means paying to advertise on both Google and Bing, at least. Bing is likely to gain more traction this year thanks to the launch of Windows 10, since it includes Cortana, a Siri-like assistant whose default search engine is Bing.
5) Don’t regard social media as a free way to build your brand It’s essential to have a presence across all social media platforms, but don’t stop there. Advertisingon social media is also very useful. This most commonly means advertising on Facebook, where a campaign can be targeted to an exceptionally specific demographic (say, 25-year-old females who have been engaged for two months). Facebook ad buyers can also purchase campaigns on Instagram through their Facebook page, and other social media platforms are also beginning to offer advertising. While such campaigns may not trigger an avalanche of sales, they can be powerful for brand awareness, says Phillippi.
Assuming that your company can nail down the right demographic, buying social media space can be a relatively inexpensive way to spotlight your business. And soon, it may be a necessary step rather than optional. While posts are always visible on your company’s page, they don’t necessarily get broadcast unless you pay. “The reach of the typical post has gone way down,” says Phillippi. Or, as Facebook diplomatically puts it on its website, “Your posts may show up in the news feeds of people who like your page.” (Emphasis added)