My 2019 internet marketing predictions for small business
As we herald in the new year, refreshed from the Christmas / New Year break, it’s the perfect time to look ahead to what’s likely to affect small business online marketing in 2019.
My predictions include :
- The rise of voice search
- Local search and how it can benefit your business
- Brand reputation and keyword relevancy
- The importance of schema markup
- The need for website speed optimisation
Wherever we are we have information at our fingertips
Most of us are no longer restricted to our desktop computers when it comes to completing the myriad of daily online tasks that now consume our lives.
Whether it’s finding an emergency dentist nearby, browsing the menu of a local restaurant, booking a tradesperson or finding a dog sitter for the holidays, web-enabled smart devices offer the convenience of finding the answers anywhere, anytime.
It is our expectation for convenience that has seen the penetration of mobile phones, voice and conversational search, smart watches and smart speakers have been embraced with abundant enthusiasm in our homes and workplaces.
This is why it’s paramount your website appears in all the right places and, importantly, has the appropriate functionality enabled to ensure customers can find your business across all devices.
As speech recognition software improves, web-enabled voice technology like Siri, S Voice, Amazing Alexa and Hey Google are becoming an increasingly popular and convenient way to search the internet.
I’ve even read reports that predict by 2020, 50% of internet searches will be voice-based.
The exciting news is that opportunities abound for small businesses to make the small adjustments necessary to their websites to get voice search ready. Particularly if their competitor’s websites haven’t adapted.
If you want more information about how you can adapt your website to capture customers using voice search, please give me a call on 0418 118 401.
Local search, also referred to as local SEO, is promoting your business to customers based on their geographic location.
Local search is a cost-effective way of promoting your products and services to customers who live, work or are situated within the proximity of your business premises.
In 2019, I predict the three most important elements of local search for small business will be :
1. Google Maps (Google My Business)
If your business isn’t listed on Google Maps, or isn’t coming up in the local search results, then I recommend you remedy this ASAP.
Google Maps is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways local businesses can attract customers within the proximity of their premises.
It’s free, and, with a little know-how, can place your business at the top of the search page when local customers enter keywords relevant to your products and services.
Make 2019 the year you get your Google Maps listing right. Let me know if you need help setting up or optimising your Google Maps listing.
The benefits of Google Maps (link) >
2. Local Citations
Local citations are mentions of your business online. These may include your business name, address, phone number, website and other recurring information.
Citations can appear on :
- business directories (Yelp, Yellow Pages, True Local, etc),
- social profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc),
- newspaper and press websites,
- Google Maps, and
- industry websites (Trip Advisor), to name a few.
Think of citations as all the generic data about your business that appears anywhere online.
To ensure search engines like Google understands that all these online listings are connected to your business, all citation information must be identical. If not then Google can’t connect the puzzle pieces of your business.
Citations listed on quality sources that Google deems trustworthy, will strengthen your online credibility and thus your search engine ranking.
Conversely, if your citations are inaccurate and inconsistent then trust is eroded and your search ranking can be reduced.
Make 2019 the year you check all your business citations and ensure they are correct and identical. If you need more information or assistance, let me know.
3. Local Business Markup
Local schema markup is code that is added to your website that helps Google understand and interpret important information about business more clearly.
I explain schema markup in more detail further in this email as it relates to several of my recommendations.
Don’t skip it as I can’t stress highly enough how much of an effect it’s predicted to have in the coming year.
Brand reputation and keyword relevancy
In 2019 it is predicted that not just online reviews, but mentions of your business are going to impact your search engine ranking – whether positive or negative.
Customer reviews and even the words used when people mention you online may affect how Google interprets your brand reputation and, subsequently, ranks your website in the search results.
Now it’s not just humans that are taking an interest in what people are saying about you, but Google too!
Below are two examples that I hope will explain how Google interprets mentions about your business and may apply the information to your search engine ranking :
Tim is a mechanic with a shop in Dee Why. A customer posts a five-star review on Google:
“Tim Smith from Zoom Car Repairs is the best mechanic in Dee Why.”
Not only is it beneficial for his customers to see such a positive review but Google also interprets Tim’s business as reputable due to the 5-star review.
While this isn’t new, what’s interesting is that Google now interprets the keywords “mechanic” and “Dee Why” thereby associating Tim Smith and Zoom Car Repairs as a reputable mechanic serving customers in Dee Why.
But, if the website where this review appears isn’t linked to Tim’s website then it won’t have a positive effect on his search engine ranking or the brand reputation of his website. Google must be able to make the connection between the review and Tim’s website.
How is this done?
We join the dots for Google. I explain this further.
TIP: When asking for reviews, encourage customers to use your business name, key staff member’s names, specific product or service names, geographic areas, and other relevant keywords, in the testimonial. I also recommend the addition of favourable adjectives such as “great”, “helpful”, “expert”, etc. Supplying customers with a few example testimonials may help.
Julie is a passionate sports physio in Sydney. She regularly posts insightful health and wellbeing tips on her social media accounts. Her followers often ask questions to which she responds with long, generous answers. Additionally, she regularly contributes advice on a range of public social media groups and sports forums.
Unfortunately, if Julie hasn’t connected the dots between her social media accounts, the public forums and her website, then Google won’t use these fantastic interactions to credit her personal and business brand. Nor will all this hard work boost her search engine ranking and keyword relevancy.
All the knowledge and advice she is sharing online isn’t benefiting her website (which brings in the majority of new business) or reaffirming her personal brand as best it could.
Again, we have to join the dots so Google can connect and understand Julie’s areas of expertise and the services she offers.
So how do we connect the dots for Google? The answer again is schema markup.
And now for that powerful code I’ve been teasing you about… schema markup.
What is schema markup?
Schema markup is code that is added to the back-end of your website to help search engines like Google better understand and interpret the content on your web pages.
The schema language was created by the search engines so they can decipher exactly what your website means, not what it says… It helps Google interpret, and therefore rank, your website more accurately with less guesswork.
Schema can’t be seen by humans – it’s visible only to search engines – and doesn’t impact the design or layout of your website in any way.
Schema markup and your website
Search engines like Google use schema to accurately interpret the content of pages, articles (blog posts), products, services, areas of expertise, key personnel (including you), special offers, events, courses, menus, contact information, business location, and so much more, that is featured on your website.
For obvious reasons, if Google can better understand and interpret the content on your website over that of your competitor’s websites then it can mean a higher search engine ranking for your business.
View examples of search results from schema markup(link) >
Schema is what joins the dots between your business and all the other places online where you’re mentioned, as I discussed earlier. It’s the glue that binds all that important information about your business that is scattered all over the internet and on social media, helping Google to create a clearer idea about what you do and how great you are at it.
The advantages of schema differ for each business. If you’re interested in learning more about how adding some schema markup to your website will help your business, let me know and I can explain in terms very specific to your products and services.
Website speed optimisation
And finally, if you choose not to follow any of the tips outlined above, please at least make website speed optimisation a priority in 2019.
Last year Google rolled out mobile-first indexing and gradually applied these principles to all websites featured in their search engine result pages (SERPs).
What is mobile-first indexing?
Mobile-first indexing means how your website displays and performs on mobile devices became the starting point or baseline for how Google determines your search engine ranking.
This is catastrophic for websites that aren’t mobile friendly because their search engine ranking will be so dramatically reduced.
If your website still hasn’t been converted to a mobile-friendly, or responsive, design then this should be at the very top of your list for 2019.
Not only does Google love mobile-friendly websites but so do the 87% of Australians who use their smartphone to browse the internet.
Website speed and mobile-first indexing
Even on mobile-friendly websites, one of the factors Google now uses in their mobile-first indexing criteria are page load times.
It’s no longer just about keywords that puts you in Google’s favour but a fast loading website is now also a ranking factor.
A fast loading website is a win-win all round as it’s also preferred by humans. Pages that load quickly reduce bounce rates and increase the amount of time people stay on your website (dwell time).
Thankfully, there are cost-effective fixes that will instantly speed up your website of which I recommend are applied to all websites over 12 months old. Contact me for more information.
Need internet marketing advice and SEO assistance?
If you need assistance or advice implementing these changes on your website, don’t hesitate to contact me anytime.