SEO Trends in 2017 for Small Businesses

 

When it comes to staying on top of the latest SEO trends, it can often feel like you are trying to catch the wind. Just when you think you are finally caught up, everything changes. You could spend countless hours and dollars trying to figure out one platform or strategy, only to find out that it no longer produces the results you were expecting.

On the other hand, simply sitting idle won’t do, either, since your competition will be making its own efforts to stay ahead of the curve.

That said, here are three major SEO trends in 2017 that are likely to shape the way smaller companies in particular do business. Whether or not you like them, you will have much to gain by paying attention and doing what you can to ride the wave.

3 Big SEO Trends in 2017

Mobile First. Let me put it bluntly: mobile devices are overtaking those “clunky” desktop ones not just in terms of numbers, but more importantly, in terms of activity. Unfortunately for many of us, putting our phones and tablets down already is a real challenge. But, it’s also an opportunity for business owners online. So, if your business is not on mobile, then you better get there fast.

For the past couple of years, mobile searches have been dominating desktop searches, and the gap is only getting wider. Thus, it almost goes without saying that you need to be creating a good online experience across all types of devices. Google recently thickened the plot with its announced mobile first index. What this means is that now Google will crawl the mobile version of your site or responsive mobile version first before the desktop version and use that content in the search results.

Sophisticated Online Search. Long gone are the days when online users would type a few keywords into a search box and (hopefully) get a list of relevant sites. Over the past five years or so, online search has become much more personalized and much more sophisticated. There are two main areas that businesses need to be paying attention to:

  1. The first is in optimization for user intent. This area, like the one that follows below, has been significantly improving over the past three years. Search engines are now getting much better at identifying user intent whenever someone does an online search. Instead of typing a few keywords, users are now entering full queries or phrases in search engines which then try to figure out the motivation behind each particular search. There are generally three types of motivation that require very different search results: 1) navigational, where the user is trying to get to a particular destination; 2) informational, where the user is looking for information on a particular product, service, or topic; and finally, 3) transactional, where the user is ready to buy or take some other type of action.

  1. The second is voice search. As mobile online usage continues to increase and technology advances, voice search has been gaining momentum. According to a recent study conducted by Google, 55 percent of those under 18 years old use voice search daily. That number increases to 75 percent for young users who are on their phones 11 or more hours per day. Even older users are increasingly turning to voice search to ask for directions or to help them multi-task.

Consistent Structure. Structured data is basically information that is formatted in a standard, universal way that helps search engines better understand a website. The result is often a better search engine ranking. The source of this structured data can be found at Schema.org. It is a code that was developed by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Yandex that you can add to your website to help search engines crawl your site faster and more accurately. As the number and content of sites explodes, the use of structured data by search engines will only increase.

In short, while SEO may be in constant flux, these three trends promise to underlie all of the change. If you choose to ignore them, you may end up missing the boat in your marketing- both online and off.

5 Trends in 2013 That Small Business Owners Can’t Afford to Ignore

Is it just me, or does it seem like the pace of business is increasing exponentially with every passing year? Each year has certainly brought its own game-changing technological advances and platforms that have affected the way businesses communicate with their customers and market their products and services. 2013 promises to be no different.

But if you start looking into the matter, you’ll quickly see that there are several distinct business patterns to look out at for in the new year, and each one of them is big enough to cause an avoidable splash.

As a time strapped, cash strapped small business owner, how do you choose which ones to pay attention to? For starters, here are five, over-ridding trends that you, as a small business owner, simply cannot afford to ignore:

Trend #1: The big squeeze. In order to maximize their reach, many big box corporations and Internet-based companies have begun offering an unprecedented range of really convenient services including enhanced personalization, same day delivery, and product customizations, and they are doing all of this at a competitively low price range. Because of this, small businesses will literally be force to adapt one or more of the following strategies in 2013: offering a highly specialized product or service, focusing on an ultra-specific niche, building an engaged community of customers around the business, and banding together with other local businesses to save expenses and cross-promote.

Trend #2: A matter of reputation. With online product reviews, social media and viral video, consumers will be more empowered than ever in 2013 to share their experiences, both positive ones and negative ones, about the products and services they use. Small businesses will need to double their efforts to keeps tabs on their reputation online, make sure their products and services deliver what was promised.

Trend #3: Mobile business monopoly. Small business owners need to respond to the growing proliferation of mobile devices. This actually includes several trends: mobile marketing, mobile payments, and web presence optimization for mobile devices. Over the past couple of years mobile optimization meant smart phones, but with the emergence of affordable mini tablets, like the popular Kindle Fire series from Amazon, we are going to see a lot more people connecting to the Internet and to each other through these devices. (And this also includes new items, like Microsoft’s smartly designed Surface- that will bridge the gap between PC and tablet computing). This means some of you have got to start thinking about optimizing your sites for both a smartphone and a tablet experience.

Trend #4: Run on talent. If your company is in the tech industry or you are in need of tech support positions, then you’ve probably noticed how hard it has become to attract talented, experienced employees. This will likely only get tougher in 2013. Many of the best employees are already employed, or are getting grabbed by big companies that can offer super attractive packages. These employees may be reticent to jump to something new. Finding the right combination of hard and soft skills will continue to be a major challenge for small business employers next year.

Trend #5: Keep it simple. When it comes to web-based design two words define the current trend: keep it simple and visual. That sites, such as Pinterest, have taken off is further proof that people are looking for visual content with instant appeal- from either a ascetic of informational standpoint. Moreover, sophisticated data visualization, specifically the art of turning complex data sets into a visual so that immediate patterns and/or fundamental principles become instantly apparent, is also gaining in popularity.

In short, there are many trends and movements that will shape the business world in the coming year, some may apply to your business, others not. But the previous five are definitely ones to watch out for. If you ignore them, then you risk being left in the dust.