Welcome to never ending changes everyone! We’re kicking off your web presence efforts with more SEO changes (what’s new right?): the ever evolving concept of search engine rankings keeps all businesses on their toes.
I have done small business SEO predictions over the last few years but this time around I think it’s worth while covering new developments (outside the traditional efforts) in how pages rank, and how you and your business can stay up to date. While many marketing gurus and experts are already on top of these trends, local businesses focusing on growing their business may not have the time to constantly stay in tune with SEO changes.
To clarify by traditional Google Search I mean typing in keywords into the search bar (which still happens by the way), and with traditional efforts I refer to on-page optimization and link building.
Without further ado:
This has been around for quite some time, but with the huge rise in mobile usage voice search has been getting much more traction for marketing purposes. Most notably having the right information and timeliness for users. Knowledge graph (or semantics) play a big role in how Google display’s information. You may have noticed their “answer boxes” and Google Map listings now show much more information as the first result after a search. The idea is to present the most accurate details (phone number, answer, map, etc.) directly in search so that users have as little clicks as possible to complete an action.
How to keep up?
This one might be a little too obvious: have the right information and have it across all of your online presences. Including semantics and structured data (covered later below) also allows Google (and other social networks) to display more of your information: contact details, location, visuals, etc. Focus on what your business does, find relevant phrases people use to do voice searches and include all that information to focus on those aspects.
Focus on Local
This is directly related to the above. Usually when someone searches something using their voice it focuses on local. Meaning that they may be tourists looking for local attractions, families looking for a kid-friendly restaurant or a gamer interested in local board game cafes. Whatever the need may be, your business needs to be able to cater that information in REAL TIME (context).
How to keep up?
Is your business listed on Google My Business? Local eateries? Yelp? Do you have a marked up address? Fully optimized social business profile? Deals/offers listed on and off website? All of these factors influence how and when information gets displayed. Someone might be searching for deals on Facebook – but you’ve only listed them on your website. Wait, you didn’t know you can list deals on Facebook? Luckily we can move on to the next change..
Social Media as a Discovery (& Sales) Tool
Yes, social media has gone beyond likes and shares. As a matter of fact many social networks (most notably Facebook) now allow for direct purchases and offer listings directly in business profiles. Not only that but by combining sponsored content with engaging updates, small businesses can really attract the right audience on their favourite networks. Why force users to leave if they don’t want/have to?
How to keep up?
When was the last time you update your business profile on social media? The answer needs to be: we regularly update it. Not always the case but it’s never to late to take a look what’s up there and where improvements can be made. As mentioned above you can add a number of sales-oriented tools to help guide your audience to take an action. Below are some examples from Facebook:
Products and/or Services:
Call to Action Buttons (blue):
Action Oriented Posts:
Technical Page Optimization
On-page optimization is still useful, but technical optimization is gaining much more traction. I put together a blog on semantics and structured data a while ago and it still rings true to optimizing your web pages, blog and other web properties. Structured data basically refers to the ability to “markup” information so that when it is presented on search engines, social networks or mobile devices in a way that displays favourable information. For example, if you markup your website with “LocalBusiness” schema, results in supporting platforms will always display your address, phone number, contacts, etc. A great tool (please consider working with someone who is technically capable with this) would be schema.org – they have list all of the options available.
How to keep up?
Really depends on the type of business or organization in question. Restaurants can markup their menus, local businesses can mark up their products with prices, conference centres with event times/dates, etc. I would highly suggest you find someone who is familiar with doing this type of work to get it done properly. There are widgets and apps on platforms such as WordPress, but if you are in need of assistance find someone who can do this right. It is a great way to go beyond the basics as far as social and search optimization is concerned.
Externally Hosted Content
How many of us have read a Medium article that was amazing? I bet a lot of hands went up for that question. That is because a lot of industry leaders (and non leaders) use Medium to post great content/ideas. It offers great interaction and engagement. What’s not to like? Not much really. Keep in mind that this will “take away” traffic from your self-hosted properties (blogs or website) – but that doesn’t necessarily need to be a bad thing. As long as you’re reaching and engaging your audience, the medium (pun intended) is irrelevant. Some other popular platforms that are seeing an increase in popularity: LinkedIn Pulse, GrowthHacker, Reddit, etc.
How to keep up?
This is a hard one – it’s fairly simple to create a Medium (or LinkedIn) account. The hard part is publishing content that is relevant and engaging. Just being somewhere for the sake of being there is not the answer. Make sure your business includes a content plan that covers these externally hosted services as well as other efforts such as social, email, etc. If you plan and adapt accordingly, your business could see great results.
There you have it! Just some of the changes you can expect. Would love to hear your thoughts or challenges on the subject.