This question was recently asked by a new client. Not knowing much about this client nor their website, I answered, “It all depends on what your definition of what a good website is?” Or perhaps what the definition of is is?
Long gone are the days of putting up a good website, optimize that website with a few choice keywords and BAM, listen for the phone to ring. Today if you don’t have a good online marketing strategy, you will slowly disappear from the SERPs (search engine results page). It may not happen today, tomorrow, or the next day, but slowly over time a website not optimized for today’s search engine algorithm will no longer add value to your marketing efforts. This statement isn’t meant to scare anyone, but to help gain a better understanding of today’s ever changing search environment.
Search engines are demanding quality, and receiving it. Sites that stuff keywords, fake reviews, and fake addresses get filtered out of the SERPs eventually. Sites that offer good information, operate on multiple devices and offer trust (along with other attributes); will rank higher than those that don’t.
A successful online marketing strategy doesn’t start and end with just a decent website. Many other factors must be addressed to increase your business’ online visibility. This isn’t an easy task for the harried small business owner or manager. Not only do businesses have to keep with the search engine changes, they must also recognize that their customers are changing their search behaviors as well.
Any new marketing strategy must respond to these changing customer behaviors1:
- 81 million customers now seek local business information on their mobile phone
- 113.1 million customers use their tablet or mobile phone for search
- Tablet ownership is growing at an unprecedented pace, far outpacing smartphone ownership
- 63% growth in mobile search since 2010
- 14% of website are mobile ready in the United States, which means 86% are NOT!
- 80% of consumers searching for a local business do not have a specific business in mind
- 92% of consumers who searched for a local business information on social networking sites used Facebook
There are some things you can do to address theses behavioral changes. A few tactics include:
- Make sure you have a responsive website, you may need to start over, but that’s OK if your website hasn’t been updated since the Bush Administration. Not sure if your website is responsive…check out this free tool to find out
- Make sure you are sending multiple trust signals to the search engines, such as:
- Name, address, and phone (NAP) number remain consistent throughout the internet
- Claim all free local citations for your business (YP, Yelp, etc.)
- Claim your Google, Bing, and Yahoo map profiles
- Create good content on your website, not just stuffed with keywords
- Engage in social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google +)
- Consider partnering with a directory management company (like HometownLocal), having this done quickly and hassle-free will save you a lot of time and aggravation
Adopting these tactics should help improve your local online visibility. However, be cautioned that this may take time (sometimes as long as 6-12 months). Lastly, always remember, nothing is ever guaranteed when dealing with clandestine search engine algorithms, but doing nothing isn’t a plausible strategy either.
1 15miles, the local search division of Geary LSF Group, is a leader in local, mobile and social marketing solutions for national and regional brands. For more information, please visit http://www.15miles.com or http://www.gearylsf.com.