As 2017 wraps up, we want to take a look ahead at some of the key changes that will impact your 2018 local business marketing strategy. You may have read many predictions about 2018 in different blogs today, but we believe our strategies below are changes that any business owner can realistically implement in the new year.
Our Big 5 Marketing Predictions Are Related To:
- Mobile-First Index Website Optimization
- Voice Search Optimization
- Social Media Advertising
- Google My Business Marketing
1. Mobile First Index Website Optimization
Google’s mobile-first index movement is coming in 2018, although the exact date is uncertain. We do know that you need to prepare your mobile website for this change. Google’s announcement in September 2017 gives us a clear idea of what we all need to do to get our websites ready for this big change.
Here Are the Key Steps:
- Make sure you have a responsive website.
- Configure 301 redirects on the old mobile URLs to point to the responsive versions (the new pages). These redirects need to be done on a per-URL basis, individually from each mobile URL to the responsive URL.
- Remove any mobile-URL specific configuration your site might have, such as conditional redirects or a Vary HTTP header.
- Set up rel=canonical on the responsive URLs pointing to themselves (self-referential canonicals).
Why is Google’s Mobile-First Movement Important?
Manobyte states that 80% of all internet users are using smartphones to access the web. To make sure this quickly-growing number of users is able to access your website, it needs to be optimized for mobile use. This includes a clean design that displays correctly on a small vertical screen, clear contact information, and a fast load time. The latter is extremely important because “more than 50% of users expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less” (Manobyte). If your images and information don’t load in record time, most users will click the back arrow and search for another, faster site.
To ensure your website is optimized for mobile, take a look at it on a mobile device. Note any issues you see and make sure your development team takes care of these ASAP. Pay attention to the layout, accessibility of contact us and search sections, and load time.
2. Voice Search
With an increased use of mobile devices for search purposes, as well as hands-free accessories, voice search is not just a trend, but a new way of life. According to Google, “using your voice to dictate a message can be up to three times faster than typing.” Not only is voice searching faster than typing, it is more convenient, efficient, and safer when driving. Because of this, it is important to make sure your website is optimized to pop up on Google when someone asks about your product or service.
How Do You Add Voice Search to Your Website SEO strategy?
Write specialized, question-focused content. Whether it’s a Frequently Asked Questions page, content headers re-formatted as questions, or both, ensure your website includes questions phrased as natural speech. It is also important to answer the questions your audience is asking. It won’t be useful if your content isn’t related to what people are curious about.
How Do You Research the Best Voice Search Questions for Your Website?
Answerthepublic.com is a great place to start. This website pulls information from internet searches and lists the top searches for a certain topic. After you get some ideas here, start typing those questions into Google. The Google drop-down screen will show you how the most commonly asked questions are worded. Once you have a running list of frequently asked questions, answer them Q&A style on your website. The next time someone asks their phone, “Where is the nearest ice cream place?” your local ice cream shop will show up!
3. Social Media Advertising
Forbes states that only about 4% of your social media followers actually see your content in their newsfeeds. And as Facebook, Instagram, and other channels increase the importance of paid advertising, even fewer followers will see your posts unless you invest in paid and boosted ads.
According to Statista, social media advertising spend has doubled in the past two years, with 13.5 billion U.S. dollars spent in 2017 alone. Organic social media engagement is being diminished as the growth of social advertising continues to skyrocket. So, what does this mean for your social media strategy?
Continue to Invest in Organic Social Media:
Even though paid social media is taking the front seat, your organic effort is still a vital part of your brand’s presence. Your social media pages and what you post on them help validate your company’s brand, helps you connect with your current clients/patients/customers, enables you to build loyalty, and allows your followers to act on your content. Research shows that 81% of consumers are influenced by what their friends share, like, or follow on social media.
Boost Your Organic Social Media Posts:
Incorporate paid boosted posts into your overall strategy to dip your toes into social media advertising. Boosting social media posts is an affordable way to promote a specific service, activity, or message to your target audience. Boosting your posts also broadens your post reach, which, ultimately, will increase engagement, shares, likes, etc.
Incorporate Advertising Into Your Social Media Strategy:
Identify the key services you want to promote and develop an ad campaign that works with your organic posts. First, know your audience and understand which social channel(s) you should be on to reach them. If your primary customer base is women and men between the ages of 30 – 65, you should focus on Facebook. If your customers are younger, we may recommend you focus on Instagram or even Snapchat. Identify who your target market is and where they are located before you develop your Facebook ad campaigns.
Videos are the future of marketing. Period. Each day, more than 10 billion videos are viewed on SnapChat, 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube, and more than 500 million people are watching a video on Facebook. These numbers are expected to grow in 2018. Incorporating video into your overall marketing strategy is not just an option, it is a necessity.
How do you incorporate video into your marketing strategy?
Video can seem like a scary marketing addition, but we have outlined a few questions to help you get started. You must first understand what you and your team are capable of.
- Do you have the budget for professional videos or will you focus on “organic,” non-professional videos?
- Do you have a team that is nimble enough to shoot “organic” real videos about your business, service, customers, etc?
- What is the purpose of your videos?
- What messages do you want them to communicate about your brand?
- How will you use the videos you shoot?
Once you answer these questions, create a list of video topics and opportunities, and then, get started.
5. Google My Business Marketing
Google has made many changes to your company’s Google My Business page. Your GMB page is extremely important to how your company shows up on the Google map and listings during a search.
In 2017 alone, Google has added Google Messaging, Google Posts, the ability to upload multiple types of images to your GMB page (Interior, exterior, team, 360, etc.) and other features to help your business be found more easily by potential customers. This tells us that Google is continuing to make this component of your marketing front-and-center to local search ranking.
How Do You Market A Google My Business Page?
First, make sure your Google My Business page is claimed, verified and optimized. Add images, add your correct business category, and add all relevant information (such as business hours, etc). Then, activate all of the features that you are able to use on a regular basis. We love using Google Posts for our clients!
2018 is expected to be a year of evolution and change for small business marketing. We promise to keep you updated on what to expect and how to implement the changes that are important to your business.