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    2016 is just about over, and we know how many of you probably feel. We see your tweets.

    Digital marketers feel differently though. Our industry is always changing for the better, and 2016 was no different. This would be our “me in 2016” post…

    View post on imgur.com

    This year we discovered a lot of really useful tools, read a lot of interesting marketing news stories, and FINALLY got the ability to switch Instagram accounts without logging in and out. Posting on your soon-to-be celebrity cat’s IG account got a whole lot quicker! (insert the 100 emoji)

    Our team highlighted some of their favorite digital marketing tidbits from 2016:

    Instagram for Business

    We’ve known that Instagram is an important tool for social media marketing for a while now. The problem has been, Instagram has been painfully slow to provide us with the features necessary to fully utilize the platform for business purposes.

    They finally gave us features that we’ve been clamoring for since the beginning of the app.

    • Multiple account switching
    • Business profiles
    • More video capabilities
    • Product tagging (still being released)

    The most talked-about IG update has definitely been the addition of Snapchat Stories Instagram Stories. The addition of these expiring 24-hour posts was important because it provided profiles the opportunity to upload videos and images much more frequently. It also allowed brands to utilize Snapchat’s best feature on a social media platform with a more diverse audience.

    PS: Instagram totally copied Snapchat. 

    Facebook Live

    While we’re talking about video, we should mention the emergence of the live streaming options this year — namely the addition of Facebook Live. This was huge because it allows businesses to live stream on the most popular social media platform on the planet.

    As of this late, you can livestream through Facebook-owned, Instagram too.

    Shhhh, listen closely. That’s the sound of the Periscope team cursing under the breath. %$&@!

    RIP Vine. RIP Twitter?

    Speaking of the slowly deteriorating Periscope, Twitter and Twitter-owned Vine had a hellish year.

    • Vine disappeared
    • The Twitter stock keeps plummeting
    • [Fill in the blank with a large tech company] is rumored to buy them
    • They got the rights to stream the worst night of NFL football (can we do away with Thursday Night Football already?)
    • Facebook Live is so much better than Periscope
    • No one cares about Moments
    • They had to fire a bunch of people

    At one point this year, they were flirting with dropping the 140-character limit completely until they realized that their co-founder already created Medium.

    Twitter, we care about you. Turn your life around in 2017, please.

    Social media re-marketing

    Remarketing gives you the ability to target ads who perform key actions on your digital properties. Remarketing to website visitors has been a best practice for a while now. If you didn’t know we love remarketing, you will very soon. In fact, as soon as you leave this website, you’ll be seeing our ads all across the web. Those ads you’ll be seeing are run through Google AdWords. You can remarket on social media too though.

    Remarketing to website visitors on Facebook and Twitter has been around for awhile now, but what’s relatively new is the ability to retarget social media users based on their engagement with your social media profiles.

    This year Facebook gave us the ability to create remarketing audiences based on people who interacted with our Facebook Page, watched our videos, or engaged with a post or ad. Recently, Pinterest added remarketing to people who interact with your pins.

    These are great new features because it gives more meaning to social media engagement. Not only can you can build brand loyalty and awareness through engagement, but you can now remarket to your most interested social media fans.

    Enough about social media though, Google still reigns supreme…

    Google’s “Possum”

    Back in early September, Google made an algorithm update that affected local search results for the better. The update mitigated the chance for spam results to overtake legitimate local businesses at the top of the search results. It also made it a lot easier for businesses outside of city limits to appear rank.

    Overall, it was a good thing and it helped a lot of our brick-and-mortar clients this year.

    Penguin 4.0

    Shortly after Possum, Google implemented the highly-anticipated Penguin 4.0 update. We won’t bore you with the specific details, but Penguin updates have been all about backlinks (those important links from other sites to your site).

    While quality backlinks are debatably the most important ranking factor, spammy backlinks can bury your website– even if it’s not your fault.

    Google realized that it’s probably not fair to hurt an entire domain because of a couple bad backlinks, so they made some key updates in this latest Penguin update. Now more likely that a bad backlink will only damage the page it links to, rather than the entire domain.

    That’s a good thing.

    Schema Tags

    Part of being a good SEO agency is to be proactive and forward-thinking. This ensures that your website is future proof. We like to think of ourselves as one of these good agencies (patting ourselves on the back) that always keep your goals in mind.

    Schema tags are code that provide the search engine with more details about the content on your webpage.

    For example: Schema is used to tell search engines that the article titled “How to grow Romaine lettuce” was written by “Romayne Taylor,” released in “2016,” and is of the “self-help” genre.

    We’re big fans of schema because it makes sense that it’s worthwhile to implement. Google’s goal is for their search engine to produce the most relevant search results possible. That’s why great content works. That’s why being mobile-friendly is a positive ranking factor. That’s why high quality backlinks are indicators of good websites. That’s why lots of social activity on a web page works. That’s why descriptive websites rank well. That’s why fast websites that are mobile responsive and secure is good for SEO.

    Why wouldn’t schema be an important ranking factor going forward? It just makes sense.

    Good news! Schema markup is now understood by all three search engines (Google, Bing & Yahoo).

    Page Speed

    FACT: The average user leaves website if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds.

    FACT: If you don’t have a fast-loading website in 2016, your business is at a disadvantage

    In 2016, page speed is still one of our favorite SEO factors because optimizing for site speed works so well. Admittedly, it’s getting harder because users are getting less patient (see fact above). Luckily, Google gives us a tool that guides us to success:

    4 more tools we really liked in 2016…

    We go gaga over new innovative marketing tools. 2016 gave us some doozies. Here are 4 that we obsessed over this year:

    1) Xdebug

    This is a debugger and profiler tool for PHP. It allows you to watch your code execute line by line! It also shows all variable values, and lets you walk step-by-step through your code.

    2) Browserstack

    This useful tool lets you to test a site on any browser, device or operating system without needing to have it physically in front of you. This tool was created from the wildest fantasies of web designers.

    3) Calltrackingmetrics.com

    This was maybe our favorite new tool this year. CallTrackingMetrics.com is a  robust call tracking software. It is provides keyword level call tracking in Analytics and AdWords. The simplicity of the setup has greatly increased our conversion tracking and account optimizations. We have yet to run into any limitations with this software.

    4) AnswerThePublic.com

    This service provides keyword research for long tail queries that are being searched. The research is displayed visually and alphabetically organized by questions, prepositions for quick browsing.

    Pokémon Go

    This game was the world’s obsession for about 2 months. In case you don’t know, Pokémon Go is game where users hunt imaginary creatures in real-life places.

    For example, there could be a Pikachu hanging out with you in the bathroom as you’re reading this. There might be a Pokémon lurking in the cereal aisle of your local Publix.

    They do it through a form augmented reality– artificially placed visuals or sounds placed in a real-life environment.

    Pro tip: look up the company Magic Leap for a great example of a company that’s doing big things with augmented reality.

    Pokémon Go broke download records when it was released. It got so popular so fast, that digital marketers were scrambling to find uses for the game. The most popular tactic became to drop ‘lures’ inside or near businesses. Lures attracted the Pokémon creatures, which then attracted real-life millennials that were trying to find them. The idea was that the humans would then enter the brick-and-mortar stores and buy a bunch of stuff.

    This made us laugh in 2016.

    We’re looking forward to the next hit game in 2017 (Mario Run, maybe?) and the marketing tactics that come with it. We also can’t wait to laugh about this in 10-20 years.

    Influencer Marketing

    Just in case we didn’t have enough marketing genres to focus on, influencer marketing became a legit thing in 2016. Influencer marketing refers to utilizing “celebrities” or influencers on the internet to cross-promote your brands.

    You might be thinking to yourself, this tactic isn’t new. Businesses have been hiring spokespeople since the dawn of time. 

    The main difference in 2016 is that you don’t need to go broke to hire Lebron James to push your candy bar. Now, you’re almost better off securing much more cost-effective micro-influencers to push your product and provide you with content that you can use. The influencer marketing phenomenon levels the playing field for smaller brands who might not have otherwise been able to nab celebrity spokespeople.

    It’s also created a whole new career opportunity for people willing to put themselves out there. There are tons of social media influencers nowadays who gross well over 100K, and despite what what you might be thinking, it’s a legit job.

    Your turn

    This is far from an exhaustive list. We’d love to hear from you. What would you have included in our list? Comment below or hit us up on Twitter at @exults.

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