by Keith Patterson
In 2014, the local businesses landscape experienced a ton of changes. To keep up with those changes and prepare for future shifts in online trends, we’ve got 4 things you should be doing online this year.
Responsive Web Design
Over the last several years, we’ve started seeing a significant increase in online mobile traffic. Smartphones and tablets took off and search engines took notice. Likewise, in 2014 Google and other search engines expressed the importance of optimizing for mobile to improve user experience. In fact, the ‘mobile-friendly’ distinction is now showing up in Google results and “might be a ranking signal in the future,” according to BrightLocal. Businesses that don’t optimize for mobile users could be losing conversion opportunities in a growing online segment if they don’t address the mobile usability of their website.
Responsive website design is the best way to provide the same experience for all users, regardless of device. With 60% of all online traffic now coming from mobile, it makes sense to provide the best experience for those users.
Directory Clean Ups
Local business directory listings provide valuable content to search engines. They reiterate important information about the business, like name, address and contact information. To make sure your business is receiving the greatest value from these business directories, the company name, address, and phone number (NAP) should be the consistent across directories. Discrepancies between listings can confuse the search engines and provide a poor user experience. In their 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, Moz ranked incorrect NAP information as the top 4 factors negatively impacting SEO efforts. Although this isn’t a new concept, we expect to see greater rewards for those following business directory listing best practices in 2015.
From a user’s perspective, this makes perfect sense. How frustrated are you when the phone number or address of a local business isn’t correct and you have to go searching for the right information?
Understand the User & Adapt Your Content
Over the last decade, users have shifted how they use websites. Users are looking for answers to their questions, and their expectations for web content have changed accordingly. Although business websites still exist to provide a product or service to satisfy a consumer need, the average user wants more from their experience.
There are 4 types of content ideal for users based on where the user is in the “sales funnel.” For visitors at the bottom of the funnel (close to a purchasing decision), content has always existed to inspire the purchase and convert to a sale. However, users at the top of the funnel aren’t ready to purchase. For these users educational and/or entertaining content is the most beneficial. If you take this into consideration when reworking your website content you’ll have a healthier online presence.
Every year, companies find different ways to engage users and each other through the newest social media platform. If you think you can survive another year without getting social, think again. Despite early reports in 2014, Facebook and other social media platforms continue to gain users and ad revenue.
Your business should be present on these platforms because your target audience uses these platforms to engage with and communicate with brands. And better still, social signals are becoming more important for visibility in search.
According to BrightLocal, the search landscape in 2014 saw an increase in social signal importance as it relates to visibility. In fact, social signals make up roughly 16% of how visible you are in search. If search engines are paying attention to social signals, it’s time for you to pay attention as well.
Whether you are a business that’s been around for a while or a recent entrepreneur, understanding and implementing these online strategies can help you stay ahead of the competition in the online space. We execute on these tactics everyday with huge success for our clients. If you’re interested in learning more, please reach out!