The businesses that appear in the top five spots on Google get the lion’s share of the traffic. If you miss the mark, you’ll be missing out on business.
With that in mind, here are the most important things you need to know about what’s changing with Google – and why you should care.
#1: Google Searches Will Be Mobile-First
This first one is a big one and you can expect to have a big impact on your business. Google has a huge advantage in mobile search. One estimate is that while Google garners approximately 63% of desktop services, it grabs a whopping 95% of mobile search. People with smart phones really need to go out of their way to use a search engine other than Google.
Google knows that people are more likely to search local business on their mobile devices than on a desktop, and it also recognizes the importance of the “near me” search term when people are out and about.
You want to make sure that your business grabs one of those top spots in mobile search? Here are some quick tips to help you ensure that it does:
#2: SEO Is Your Key to Showing Google Your Relevance
It’s no secret that Google prioritizes the user experience over everything else. That’s why keywords have diminished in importance while things like LSI, authority backlinks, and local reviews have risen as indicators of a site’s relevance and usefulness.
Keywords may not have the impact they once had, but there are other elements of SEO that are essential to ensuring that Google knows what your site’s about and why users will care about it.
The first thing is creating optimized content that’s highly engaging and useful to your site visitors. The more recent the content the better. If your site doesn’t have a blog, it should – and you shouldn’t wait to add one. Every blog post you write gives Google another reason to crawl your site, and users another reason to visit.
The second thing is your data. If you’re not already drilling down into your data from Google Analytics and social media, you should start. Those numbers aren’t just numbers – they’re a map that can show you the kind of content that’s most appealing to your followers.
#3: Content Still Reigns Supreme
Speaking of content, there’s simply no way to overstate its importance. While you’ll still need to optimize your site for keywords and use appropriate tags, your content is what will ultimately make a user decide to stay on your site or – alternatively – to click the dreaded back button and try again.
The truth is that posting content regularly is likely to garner you up to five times the results that you’ll get without regular content updates. That’s not a statistic you can afford to ignore – and you can be sure that Google will notice if you don’t create content that users care about.
Of course, content can take many forms. It might include:
#4: Video Content is Huge
Finally, there’s reason to believe that 2018 will truly be the Year of Video Marketing. We’ve been talking about the rise of video for a while now, but its importance continues to increase. Let’s start with this:
By 2021, 82% of all global IP traffic will be video traffic.
Whoa. We’re not talking about a tiny chunk of traffic here. Video traffic was already at 73% as of 2016 and its rise is ongoing.
Visitors to your site are four times more likely to watch an explainer video about your product or service than they are to read a page of text. Of course, there are exceptions – but you can’t afford to ignore the fact that preferences have changed.
The good news is that video is cheaper and easier than ever to product. You can pay big bucks for a professional videographer to make videos for your business, but you don’t need to. Even a decent smartphone camera can shoot video that’s good enough to represent your business.
Some videos – the more formal ones that appear on your site, for example – might benefit from high production values. But the videos that you post on social media can be casual and short – and don’t forget about live video as an option, too
Now, about that Jell-O…
Yes, it’s a pain to keep up with Google’s constant changes. But ultimately, getting a nail through that Jell-O – even if you have to do it again tomorrow – is worth the time and effort. It’s the thing that will bring new visitors to your site – and help your business earn more revenue.
The trick is knowing which platforms are most likely to bear fruit – and which are better left alone. Here are some things that can help.
Understand the Key Attributes of Each Platform
Each social media platform has unique qualities. Sometimes the benefits of one platform overlap with another and sometimes, they don’t. Here’s a rundown of each platform’s marketing value as we see it.
Facebook is still the biggest social media platform. That means that you’re likely to find a significant percentage of your target audience there. In most cases, choosing just one social media site for marketing probably means choosing Facebook.
Facebook is ideal for brand-building, establishing yourself as an authority in your industry or niche, and strengthening customer loyalty. It’s easy to share an array of content, including written, visual, and video content.
Of course, arguable Facebook’s biggest strength in terms of marketing is its advertising options. You can easily segment your target audience, run ads, view detailed analytics, and adjust as needed.
Twitter is built for instant communications. It’s the perfect place to share updates with your followers, create an immediate give-and-take, and release company news without relying on the media.
Twitter’s use of hashtags also makes it easy to track your company’s mentions and trending topics. Many companies have integrated their customer service with their Twitter accounts to provide immediate support when it’s needed.
Pinterest focuses on visual content and is a great platform for driving users back to your blog or website. They also have an option that allows retailers to sell directly on Pinterest.
The ability to create micro-targeted boards and use hashtags can make it easy to ensure that people in your target audience see the content you create.
Like Pinterest, Instagram is a visual platform where you can share photographs and videos of your products or services. It has a slightly more casual feel that the other sites we’ve mentioned so far and that can be useful for some brands because it can help them connect with customers.
Instagram is also a good place for user-generated content. For example. Starbucks uses Instagram every year for its White Cup Contest, where it asks users to decorate a plain white Starbucks cup with a unique design. The contest winner’s design is manufactured each year and available as a limited-run product in stores.
LinkedIn is the best social media platform for B2B marketers. It’s where you can share relevant blog posts, connect with other leaders in your industry, and make the kinds of connections that can help your business grow.
You can target LinkedIn users by their industry and job title, as well as by using traditional keywords. Sharing information about your business is a good way to build credibility and trust.
Identify Your Target Audience’s Preferred Platforms
Now, you’ve got to take the time to clearly define your target audience and identify the social media platforms that they are most likely to use. To do that, it’s helpful to have a demographic breakdown of each site so you can narrow your options.
Know How Much Time You’re Willing to Spend on Social Media
Let’s say that you’ve identified Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram as the most beneficial social platforms for your business. Does that mean you should set up accounts on all three?
To be effective, a social account must be active. That means you’ve got to tend to it every day, creating or curating new content and being there to answer questions and comments as needed. Here’s a rule of thumb for posting on each platform:
Choosing the right social platforms may take a little time…
But, it’s time well spent. Your time is valuable, and it makes no sense to waste it posting on platforms that your audience is not using.
If you’re a CPA or Attorney, you probably don’t use Pinterest…
Auto repair shops probably aren’t too active on LinkedIn…
Home remodeling & roofing contractors don’t do a lot of tweeting…
You see where I’m going with this?
So we hope this article will help you make the best choice for your own business – and for your bottom line.
In case you don’t know, that’s the collection of businesses that appear at the top of Google’s SERP when someone searches a keyword. It turns out that one of the keys to landing a coveted spot in the three-pack is getting good reviews. Here’s what you need to know.
The Proof That Reviews Matter
How can we tell that reviews make a difference in SEO? Google’s algorithm is proprietary and the known ranking factors (keywords, links, and Google Rankbrain, to name a few) don’t include reviews.
Local SEO experts have been saying this for a years, but it’s actually fairly easy to see that reviews are important. Google any local business category and you will get a list of results with a three-pack at the top. When you look at the businesses that made it into the three-pack, you’ll most likely see the following:
It’s also worth noting that the Local SEO Guide found that local reviews were the second most influential factor in determining search rank in their 2017 Local SEO Ranking Factors study. The influence in this study did appear to be limited to reviews that specifically included the keyword searched, but customers are likely to use the most commonly searched terms naturally.
In addition, LSI keywords that are related to the search term may also play a role. Try Googling your top keyword and looking at what’s highlighted in the reviews in the three-pack. You may notice that reviews that use semantically-related words show up even if they don’t use the precise term you searched.
The Reasons Google Likes Reviews for SEO
There are some concrete reasons that Google thinks reviews matter. They’re directly related to the ways that Google’s algorithm has evolved. In the early days of the internet, it was possible to get a page to rank highly on any search engine by simply stuffing it with keywords.
That changed because it omitted any concern for the experience of a user who clicked through to a site. After all, if you could click on a site because it ranked for a keyword only to find that it was useless to your needs, you wouldn’t revisit it – and you might resent the search engine that directed you to it in the first place.
With that in mind, here are the top three reasons that Google likes reviews for SEO.
How to Make the Most of Your Reviews
Here are some quick tips to help you make the most of your reviews:
You know that, and now you can do something about it. Organic traffic is increasingly difficult to come by but encouraging and highlighting your reviews can help you get the biggest possible bang for your marketing bucks.
And the secret it a surprisingly simple one:
Create better content than they do.
It’s been a long time since Bill Gates famously declared, “Content is king.” That doesn’t mean that it’s not true. In fact, content is happily sitting on that throne – and it determines how highly your site is ranked by Google and whether people will visit it, subscribe to your list, and turn into paying customers.
Easier said than done? Maybe, but here are 5 methods you can try to drive more customers with content marketing.
#1: Build Social Media Profiles & Engage Your Audience Consistently
There’s no denying that social media marketing is essential for local businesses. In fact, social content accounts for a whopping 93% of all B2B content and it’s responsible for a significant amount of B2C content, as well.
The first step is building your profiles. That means creating a consistent brand image by using your logo and a dedicated brand voice so that someone who finds you on Facebook won’t have any problem recognizing you from your website or other social accounts.
The second step is engaging your audience. You should plan on creating some content that’s unique to social media. You can also share your blog posts, YouTube videos, and other content from your website.
However, you should also be curating content from other sources as long as it fits in with your brand’s message. For example, we found a craft store in Seattle that shares:
The key is to make sure that the content you share is relevant to your followers.
#2: Contact Local Content Creators/Influencers
The next thing you can do is to pair up with local content creators and influencers both for content creation and for amplifying your brand’s reach.
Imagine that you owned a restaurant and you noticed that one of your food suppliers had a large following. You might approach them about creating content together or sharing one another’s content to help both of you. People who eat at your restaurant might like to know more about the person producing your ingredients and likewise, the people who follow your supplier might like to know where they can sample their products locally.
Of course, influencers don’t need to be directly connected to your business. Instead, they might simply have a lot of audience overlap to make cultivating a relationship with them worth your while. Use your imagination and keep an open mind for the best results.
You can find local influencers using websites like .peoplemap.co and tribegroup.co
#3: Partner with Local Businesses
You might also consider partnering with local businesses to build your brand and attract new customers. Sometimes, a partnership is the ideal way to lift both partners while at the same time providing relevant content to your followers.
For example, a local office supply store might pair up with a CPA to create content about how to organize your receipts and other information necessary for filing your taxes. Or a hair salon could pair up with a local charity that makes wigs for chemotherapy patients showing the process of how donated hair becomes a wig.
Here again the key is relevance. Any joint content you create should be relevant to your followers and give them the opportunity to learn something new – or try something new.
#4: Confirm Your Business on Mapping Platforms
Helping people find you online and in person is a key aspect of content marketing – and one you may be neglecting. Here are some examples of what you can do to make your business more visible:
#5: Event Marketing (Hosting Events and Experiences)
Finally, check out local events that you might be able to attend or sponsor. While our focus is on digital marketing, sometimes there’s no substitute for the personal touch.
If your marketing is primarily B2B, you might look for:
Remember, great content will always win out…
It might feel a bit daunting to constantly need to come up with new content, but the five strategies we’ve outlined here can help to demystify the process and ensure that your content is always stands out and gets noticed.