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Digital Marketing and Analytics Wisdom for 2021 and Beyond!

There are lots of things we’re ready to leave behind in 2020 (e.g., murder hornets), but these digital marketing insights are coming with us into 2021.

It’s March 257 of 2020 — murder hornets, unidentified aerial phenomena, and a tiny owl in the Rockefeller Center Tree are just a few of many things that have made headlines this year. And if there’s one thing we all can agree on, it’s that 2020 has not gone as we envisioned. At an individual and organizational level, GPO, like many other businesses, had to adjust its goals, expectations, and processes.

But alongside all the unexpected events of 2020 came predictable lessons, too. Here are a few of the insights we plan on stashing in our back pockets for 2021 and beyond.

Insights from Rachael Parrott, VP of Client Partnerships

“Relationships are more important than ever.”

Ironically, having to be physically apart only amplified the importance of proactive relationship building. The economic downturn has had very real consequences, and even though the GPO team was able to stay together, many of our everyday client and vendor relationships were professionally “severed” by furloughs, layoffs, and position changes.

However, Rachael is not one to shy away from a relationship due to circumstances, and as a big fan of phone calls — she remained in contact with many of GPO’s former partners. In turn, those relationships have come to fruition in the form of new business for GPO, new opportunities for our partners, and goodwill for everyone.

Rachael’s one tip for 2021 is to ask yourself, “Who needs a phone call today?” Be it a client, a former college buddy, or your elderly grandmother — a good old-fashioned phone call can help you reconnect, relax, and collaborate.

Why choose a phone call over video call? PCMA explains that video conferencing may lower our ability to connect with others and pay attention to the core business since the multi-dimensional nature of platforms like Zoom leads us to scrutinize our audience’s and our own body language, pitch, and posture as we simultaneously attempt to process the conversation. And yes, that’s why you feel so tired after your morning meeting!

Sterling Turner GPO
Insights from Sterling Turner, Director of Presence Management

“You don’t need a physical location to be locally relevant.”

Google search skews local — that’s why when you search for “coffee,” you’re likely to get a map pack of coffee shops nearby somewhere in your search results. Businesses without physical locations — like plumbers, home insurance vendors, internet service providers, and even food delivery companies — can benefit from local search just as much as a craft coffee shop or brick-and-mortar retailer.

Optimizing a service-area based business for local search involves a few crucial factors:

  • Claiming and optimizing a Google My Business profile
  • Ensuring data accuracy across local directories
  • Creating unique content for pages featuring key business offerings, service areas, and products

Optimizing a multi-location business — like a nationwide chain of lawn care services, for instance — requires performing all the aforementioned processes at-scale.

Sterling’s a man of few words, but as the Director of Presence Management at GPO, he does have one actionable insight for multi-location businesses going into 2021, “Audit your business listings for accuracy, especially if your hours, locations, or services are still changing due to COVID-19.”

Gabe Wateski of GPOInsights from Gabe Wateski, Senior SEO Analyst

“Stop skipping steps 1-10 to get straight to 100.”

Gabe is an SEO magician, and if you don’t believe us, just Google his name. He owns the SERP for “Gabe Wateski,” and even though we recognize that the unique last name gives him a certain edge, he’s still our go-to for organic search.

With SEO, there’s no such thing as skipping ahead to the top of SERP. For enduring SEO results start with excellent keyword research — identifying what people are searching for. Then, incorporate those keyphrases into equally excellent on-page and meta content, optimizing pages where you may have fallen short before. Once you’ve laid the foundation with content around your key business offerings, create more “child” content, answering questions around those offerings.

Gabe’s key takeaway for businesses wanting to drive results through search in 2021 is, “block and tackle basics.” It may sound a little hippie, but when it comes to SEO, it’s really all about the journey and building your SEO technical health from the ground-up.

Clayton Sheppard of GPOInsights from Clayton Sheppard, VP Analytics and Insights

“Don’t go chasing waterfalls algorithm updates.”

Clayton is our in-house expert on all things data visualization and analytics. On demo calls, we’ll often hear him say things like, “These numbers are directional, not actual.” Often, he’s the guy we turn to when clients “brace” for upcoming algorithm updates. His one piece of advice — don’t go chasing algorithm updates… [just stick to the basics and create great content].

The truth is, enterprise brands with good domain authority and a proven track record of serving searchers with relevant content and a positive user experience should not experience major fluctuations following algorithm changes. In fact, smaller sites that are still trying to develop their presence are typically the ones who experience most post-algorithm fluctuations.

However, well-known brands aren’t exempt from doing their due diligence. If you’re concerned about how your enterprise brand’s web presence will weather the next algorithm update, go back to the basics (Gabe says so!):

Ensuring your web properties are technically sound. This involves everything from fixing performance issues like 404s to optimizing for PageSpeed and mobile useability.

Having high-quality research-driven content around key business offerings. Maintaining a fresh consistent content schedule composed of relevant, keyword-savvy blogs, web copy, and location page info will keep you top-of-mind with searchers and search engines.

Amplifying web presence with localized content. Many enterprise brands fall short in this department. Owning search results for certain keyphrases doesn’t equal owning results for those phrases in key service areas/localities. Deploying unique local content allows multi-location brands to gain visibility for non-branded “nearby” searches, which may have a lower monthly volume individually, but can add up to a significant amount of traffic.

Ensuring your client-facing location data is correct. Having accurate links, phone numbers, and hours across all your locations is key to driving foot traffic, appointments, and calls where they’re supposed to go. Additionally, accurate data is also a positive signal for Google.

“If you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing — algorithm changes should not cause major fluctuations,” summarizes Clayton. If an algo change does rattle your site, reach out to us for extra insights from Clayton himself!

Brian Rutledge CEO of GPO Content Technology Company
Insights from Brian Rutledge, CEO and Founder

There’s no bigger organic search expert than our very own founder, Brian. He planted the GPO seed six months before Larry Page and Sergey Brin even launched a little thing called “Google,” and has been honing his craft of search since.

First and foremost, though, Brian’s a business owner. He understands firsthand the importance of investing where GPO can get the biggest return on investment. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that his biggest takeaway from this tumultuous year is pointed at like-minded leaders:

“Where you spend resources today affects how your business performs tomorrow. Build for the future.”

Leaders of enterprise businesses are under enormous pressure to deliver results — especially as businesses rapidly innovate to keep pace with changing consumer behavior. From restaurants changing business models overnight to allow for delivery or curbside pickup to healthcare providers adopting technology to see patients on screen via telehealth, every single industry had to pivot this year.

Here’s what we saw with our clients. Because we preach that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint, our clients have long been investing in local search, quality content, and technical SEO. As a result, they saw YoY digital growth instead of a pullback.

  • An all-time high of 10,000 online orders in a single week for one of our retail clients
  • Record-breaking daily blog visits, totaling 3.4 million to-date for an automotive client
  • 6.3 million organic visits to a retail client, a 9% increase from the year prior
  • $85K in bookings for a hospitality client attributed to organic traffic within one month of deploying GPO’s product
  • A 214% increase in search visibility for a telecommunications client

This year, it seemed like when we thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. So we innovated, we shifted, and we worked together to get through. While we’re in agreement that we’d never want to go through a year like 2020 ever again, we’re thankful for the wisdom imparted to us from this wild ride.

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