How Will the Future of Search Impact Small Business?

By on December 19, 2017

Small businesses as defined by the SBA are those that have up to 500 employees, and a well-worn phrase says that they’re the backbone of the economy in many developed countries. This practically means that a family-owned shop, freelancers, as well as many e-commerce stores, can be observed as small businesses. We’re currently witnessing the development and implementation of disruptive technologies that will change the face of business in general. AI and big data will shake SEO and search to the core, and small businesses will have to adapt in order to be able to keep pace with the big players from their industry and prevent merciless Google rankings from sinking their website traffic.

It’s the customers’ world

Customers are your SMB’s most valuable asset, and Google believes that you should treat them accordingly. That’s why user experience plays an incredibly important role in Google rankings, and its importance will only grow in the future. This practically means that your website needs a proper SEO strategy, combined with compelling, valuable and helpful content, and user-friendly, intuitive navigation in order to make its way to the top of the SERPs.

  • By generating fresh, unique content that provides value to your target audience, you’ll improve your customer experience, which means that your visitors will stay longer on your website. This parameter, called “dwell time” is a significant indicator of the quality of your content and Google takes it into account. Another factor that proves the relevance of your content and credibility of your website are backlinks, which are practically authority links that point to your website, thus vouching for the quality of the content, and signaling to Google that your visitors will find exactly the information that they’re looking for there.
  • Social media, although not officially one of the ranking signals, still shouldn’t be neglected. If your content is good, it will be liked and shared across social media channels, and subsequently, serve as a cue to both search engines and your target audience that it’s worth reading.

As your SMB climbs up the Google’s ladder of popularity, it will enjoy more traffic and, in turn, more profit. Search results have become increasingly personalized, as Google has collected massive amounts of data about users so that it can serve them the results based on their previous searches and clicks. This puts SEO in a pretty challenging situation since it’s hard to track your rankings and identify which particular type of personalization influenced your ranking data. Still, that’s no excuse for the fact that only 30% of small businesses use website analytics.

Make your voice heard

Voice search is expected to surpass typed search in the near future. Virtual assistants like Cortana, Alexa, or Siri have paved the way for this new approach to searching for the information on the internet. What’s amazing about this technology is that it’s capable not only of voice recognition but also of understanding spoken phrases and interpreting the meaning behind them. When we’re typing our search we’re more inclined to use only the essential words; on the other hand, when we’re using voice search we tend to structure our thoughts into more natural phrases and clauses. Logically, this will change the way we use keywords in voice search in the sense that they will become more conversational, since RankBrain, Google’s machine-learning based system has the role to identify the meaning and intention as precisely as possible in order to provide the best search results. In order to optimize for voice search, websites will have to focus on long tail keywords paired with conversational keyword phrases. One of the ways to achieve this is to identify the questions that people usually ask when they call customer service. It’s a good idea to literally record their words when they’re talking to your sales reps. Here are some other important factors that you’ll have to take into account when optimizing your SMB website for voice search:

  • Mobile optimization. It’s a no-brainer that people mostly use voice search when they’re on the go, which means that they’re using their mobile devices.
  • Local search optimization. Statistics say that 50% of consumers who conduct a local search visit a store within a day. It’s important to make sure that your company appears in local searches, as people mainly want to find out where the nearest restaurant, car wash, or dentist with good recommendations is located;
  • Try to get featured snippets for your site. These boxes of selected additional information, also called rich answers, are displayed above the search results, and in cases when the voice search provides a result which includes a snippet, it’s also read out loud which attracts the attention of the person who conducts the search.

It’s true that SMBs have to try harder than big companies in order to get noticed in SERPs, but these new technologies will allow you to provide users with meaningful and helpful resources more effectively, and score points with Google.

About Nate Vickery

Nate Vickery is a consultant and an online author mostly focused on covering latest trends and practices in digital marketing applicable to startups and SMBs. He is also the executive editor at Bizzmark Blog and an author on The Next Web.

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