What is the future of SEO for small business
With everyone talking about the future of SEO, I feel I need to talk about something that is overlooked. With the changes to SEO that are happening, how is it going to impact your small local businesses. What will happen to all of the small businesses that don’t have whole marketing teams? Will they have to give up on SEO, or will they still be able to drive additional traffic online? Here’s the scoop.
There has recently been a lot of changes that have made it so the search pages have begun to show personalized results to people based on their social circles, connections, search history, and known interests. That means that if I do a search for a service, I could be shown something completely different than the next guy who does the same exact search.
The results can be different based on location, habits, search history, or any number of things that are based on our search history and habits. I see a future not too distant where people who are known to click on review based results, get shown more review based results. I also see a future where a very large portion of the SERP is taken up by advertising, which I find very unfortunate.
What do personalized results mean for the small business?
If you are in a location where you will have multiple potential customers close by that’s good for you. If you offer nationwide services, but aren’t very big, that is going to be a lot harder. All small businesses, especially small and nationwide or global, will have to put more attention into networking online. Especially amongst customers and industry leaders. Whether this is through advertising, or organic connections, finding customers is going to become more like finding customers offline.
One thing that is apparent is that unless things change drastically, social media is not going away anytime soon. As of yet the only social media platforms that have a direct effect on Google SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages) are Google+ and Youtube (both owned by google). This does not mean that the other social media sites don’t already affect SERP’s and in all probability do. In the future, social media triggers are going to play an even bigger role, but not quite in the way you think.
The way I see it there are two possible futures for social media. One very promising and one that is not promising at all (In my opinion).
Future 1: Everyone uses these social networks to find and stay in touch with friends and family. They continue to like and share things that they enjoy, including businesses, and it remains a wonderful place to expand your potential customer base through satisfied customers. Real life word of mouth shared with hundreds or potentially thousands of friends who may need your service. This is what I think is ideal.
How can you as a business encourage growth and reach within this future landscape?
Quality is key! If you provide an amazing service and value to your customers, they will appreciate your business and be willing to refer it. There is nothing wrong with asking a customer for a review or a +1 on google+. They will gladly give it just like they would refer you to a friend. For the purposes of SEO, getting reviews and shares is a value, but getting the reputation and customer base that comes along with receiving them organically, is priceless.
Future 2: This is a future that I have only recently started looking at as a possibility. Imagine you log on to Facebook to see what your friends and family are up to, and you see a couple ads at the top of your newsfeed, then some customized for you articles, then another ad, finally followed by a post from a friend, followed by anything but another friends post. This is the dark future where every company advertises too much on social networks and the purpose of the networks themselves is forgotten.
This leads to a mass-exodus from current social media platforms and a crash for the social network itself, and the companies that rely heavily on online advertising. Hopefully this wouldn’t happen, or at least one social media platform would remain that is focused on being social. This would be a disaster
What would this future mean for small business?
The impact of a social media site, such as Facebook, losing all of its users would change the SERP’s more than any recent update has. Could you imagine the second most powerful URL in the world dropping off of a cliff? This wouldn’t happen overnight, but the results would be dramatic. It would be like having every American decide to boycott TV over commercials. Every business that invested in commercials would lose out big time!
This is why we all need to be careful about our online advertising efforts. The difference is in traditional advertising, people pass your billboard, or hear your radio ad, or see your flyer and it doesn’t bother them. Online advertising on the other hand can become very intrusive. It invades pages that they want filled with the things they want to see, and nothing else. People are more dissatisfied with online advertising than traditional. Social influence is something we all can benefit from, so we must be careful how we go about it to ensure a long successful future.
Currently content marketing is “all the rage” in the SEO world. It’s all about creating great content and the getting as many people to see it as possible. The question is how is this going to affect your small business? and is content marketing here to stay?
Very large companies are expected to produce content regularly, and usually the same type of content is made. News outlets publish news articles, sports companies produce video with their product, etc. The basis for content marketing is both marketing and branding, which are important to a small business too. The question is how long can we keep producing original, compelling content? I say that it is very likely that we can keep creating content for a very long time.
What does it mean for a small business?
Any company can benefit from creating content vs. not doing so. There are so many possible advantages, and only one possible setback, wasting time. There are also many challenges with content marketing. What to make, when, how to distribute, what types. These all are valid questions and are different for every company. The goal is to be a great company, show that you are a great company, and keep them coming back. If your content fulfills on these things than it will be far worth the time investment to create it.
On top of direct benefits from the content itself, creating unique quality content is itself a ranking factor for search engines and should be seen as SEO as well. There are so many things you can do with your content to make sure it is recognized as valuable and many of these won’t be changing in the near future. Content will always be a ranking factor for SEO purposes.
There you have it, a few things (okay maybe more than a few) to consider in your future SEO efforts. Think that I am way off in my predictions? Let me know in the comments. We love talking about the future of SEO and what others believe to be the best things to be doing. Think I missed something big? Let me know.