6 SEO Trends in Small Business

Staying on top of the latest SEO trends is vital, yet difficult for small businesses. The basic tenants of a solid SEO strategy have not massively changed from year to year, but Google continues to adjust its algorithms to keep pace with how consumers interact with the Internet.

SMBStaying on top of the latest SEO trends is vital, yet difficult for small businesses.

The basic tenants of a solid SEO strategy have not massively changed from year to year, but Google continues to adjust its algorithms to keep pace with how consumers interact with the Internet.

If one theme has emerged so far in 2016, it’s that SEO is changing — perhaps more rapidly than usual — to keep up with the rising importance of smartphones, smart watches and mobile technology on the whole. Business owners who fail to adapt their SEO strategies accordingly risk being invisible to potential customers.

That said, I’ve listed six of the most current trends in SEO that all small business owners should be aware of. Keep in mind that most of yesterday’s truths about SEO still hold water today. Now, business owners must simply do more to avoid being left in the virtual dust.

1. Keyword Usage in SEO Is Evolving

Not long ago, keyword usage could make or break your SEO strategy. That’s because most people conducted Web searches by typing keywords into Google, and optimizing your landing pages with these keyword terms was a simple way to improve your ranking for these queries.

Fast forward to today, and it’s clear the game has changed. Rather than type specific keywords into search engines, more and more people are searching the Web by speaking into their smartphones and watches. Voice recognition apps such as Apple’s Siri were novelties when the technology first launched — the apps were more amusing than efficient — but now these apps have improved to the point of being just as functional as traditional Web searches. Now, instead of someone typing “Mexican food Seattle” into a browser window, an equally likely Google query will be spoken: “Find a Mexican food restaurant near Prospect Park Brooklyn.”

To capitalize on this trend, focus your content on themes rather than specific keyword terms. Strengthen your site by giving each page a distinct purpose. Make sure to emphasize local angles in your content. Blog about how your business is active in your neighborhood or district. Of course, keyword terms still have their place in SEO for small businesses, but now you must also think in terms of long-tailed keywords that are more likely to be spoken in conversation.

2. Get the Most Out of Deep Links

The most poorly optimized website imaginable would have all of its information crammed onto a single page. Clearly, that’s not a great idea, and instead your website should have different pages for each specific aspect of your business.

Deep links capitalize on this and help make your SEO even stronger. Simply put, deep links are hyperlinks that lead people to highly relevant pages “deeper” inside your website.

Deep links are likely to enhance how visitors interact with your site — they’re less likely to bounce and they’ll likely stay on pages longer because the information is more relevant. Combine these signals with a strong content structure, and Google is more likely to view deep-linked pages as more authoritative and deserving of better search rankings.

3. Invest in Social Media

One of the biggest debates among SEO gurus is just how much social media signals affect Google’s search rankings. Studies have shown that businesses that accumulate favorable social media signals — such as likes and shares on Facebook posts or retweets on Twitter — are more likely to get favorable placements in organic search results. Although Google officials have flat-out denied this is true, nobody is arguing that social media is going to become increasingly important in SEO strategies.

Already, Google displays pages from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social platforms in its organic search rankings, highlighting the need for small businesses to be active on social media. Socially shared videos, advertisements and blog posts (think deep links) can drive interaction on your website and result in more links, enhancing your site’s SEO. Also, more people are using social media platforms as their front doors to the Internet. It’s only a matter of time before search rankings on Facebook matter just as much as rankings in Google.

Regardless of whether likes and shares matter (and the data strongly suggests they do), there are enough other reasons to incorporate a strong social media campaign into your overall SEO strategy.

4. Engage Customers With Videos

Videos are the undisputed kings of grabbing people’s attention online.

More than 60 percent of Google searches are by people looking for video content, according to a report by Marketing Land. Videos are even more impactful on social media; a study by Socialbakers revealed that video posts on Facebook tended to get twice as much organic reach than any other type of content. Another study by Quicksprout.com found that Web pages with videos achieved search rankings up to 50 times better than pages without videos.

Small businesses can produce videos to establish themselves as authorities in their areas of expertise. Product demonstrations and how-to videos are short, sharable and don’t require big budgets to produce. Embed videos on your website, post them on Facebook and tweet them on Twitter. Don’t forget to start a YouTube page that could also get ranked high in Google’s organic results.

5. Optimizing for Mobile Is Now a Must

We’ve already reviewed the rising importance of voice recognition, videos and social media – all trends that are being driven by the widespread use of smartphones and other mobile devices. So it should come as no surprise that mobile Web design is also an absolute must in 2016. And by “must,” I mean MUST.

The benefits of mobile website design aren’t new – for the past two years, more people browsed the Web through mobile devices than desktop computers. However, now people expect to find seamless, intuitive websites whether they’re using large tablets or tiny smartphones. A mobile user who lands on a website that’s only functional on a 23-inch computer monitor is almost certain to bounce.

Many small business owners manage their own sites using WordPress or similar platforms, and most of those platforms offer free responsive site templates that adapt for mobile users. That said, you can’t go wrong with hiring a professional to ensure your site behaves properly on mobile devices. It’s that important.

6. More People Want Hyperlocal Search Results

Local SEO has always been important, but never more than it is now. As we discussed earlier in this article, more people are using smartphones and wearables to seek out goods, services and entertainment on the go.

Registering your small business with sites such as Google My Business, Bing Local and Yelp is critical if you want to have a shot at ranking in the local “map” results. Make sure all of your business information (such as your name, address and phone number) is listed correctly, and make sure it corresponds with whatever is on your actual website. Do the same for your social media profiles.

Starting a blog is another great way to harness the power of hyper-local searches. Blog about sales, products, company changes and even your customers. Make frequent mentions of your street, your neighborhood and the role your business plays in the community. Anything to strengthen the local identity of your business can boost your SEO efforts.

Want more SEO Tips? Click here to get the Ultimate SEO checklist.

Top 10 SEO Trends for 2016

How people use the Internet is changing, and SEO experts must evolve to stay relevant. Last year was defined by the rising importance of mobile website optimization — and while that trend will continue, expect social media, apps and Google advancements to make increasingly large impacts on the SEO industry.

Google WordleHow people use the Internet is changing, and SEO experts must evolve to stay relevant. Last year was defined by the rising importance of mobile website optimization — and while that trend will continue, expect social media, apps and Google advancements to make increasingly large impacts on the SEO industry. Technology is moving at breakneck speed. That’s great news for ambitious businesses, but bad news for folks who’d prefer to maintain the status quo.

Looking ahead, we predict these 10 SEO trends will set the tone through 2016:

1. Quality video content will become more valuable than written content.
Content is king, right? Until now, written content has been the gold standard. Going forward, though, video content will become increasingly important, and 2016 may be the year it surpasses written content. That’s because video content — which can take the form of videos, animations, dynamic infographics and more — is much more engaging and shareable than text.

Not only are videos taking over social media and many of the most popular apps, but Google is also experimenting with embedding video ads within search results. The bottom line is that social media and mobile devices are the driving force in online interaction, and social media prioritizes user experience over traditional SEO signals. That’s why video may get a leg up.

2. Search queries will change as more people search the Web by speaking into their phones.
When searching Google for running shoes, a person might type “running shoes men” or “trail running shoes” into the search bar. But that same person would likely make a completely different query if speaking it aloud: “Find running shoes for men in Seattle.” Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Now — the digital assistants that are built into new smartphones — are changing the nature of online search queries. As a result, content that contains more colloquial and conversational long-tail keywords are more likely to be rewarded by Google’s ever-evolving algorithms.

3. Social media posts will be indexed by Google.
If you didn’t already believe that social media would profoundly impact search results, then you should believe it now. Google has already started to display Twitter and Facebook content in mobile search results. More social media platforms are expected to be similarly indexed throughout the next year, highlighting the importance of strong social media marketing to go hand-in-hand with SEO optimization efforts.

4. Deep links on apps will become as important as deep links on the Web.
Apps are tailor-made to thrive on mobile devices, and it’s not hard to believe that people may eventually use apps more than they visit websites. This is why Google started indexing apps, and it’s why more apps will be indexed throughout 2016. App developers can take advantage of this trend by creating sharable deep links that can be easily viewed and shared. Deep links are highly valuable for website SEO, and deep links on apps could soon be just as meaningful.

5. Local search results will become even more focused.
The proliferation of smartphones with GPS apps is driving search results to be increasingly local. Now, people have smart watches and other wearable gear equipped with that same technology. That’s why local searches are expected to become even more hyper-local as the year goes on. Want to find the best Italian restaurant near you? Coming soon, search results won’t be optimized by just city and state — they’ll be optimized by your street, neighborhood or district.

6. Real-time updates to Google’s search algorithms will keep webmasters and SEO experts on their toes.
Google usually rolls out its algorithm updates in large chunks. However, Google may start launching real-time updates to its Panda and Penguin algorithms, which were implemented to weed out thin and black-hat websites from the search rankings. Webmasters and SEO experts who already go the extra mile to stay ahead of the curve may not be significantly impacted by real-time updates, but nobody will be able to rest on their laurels if Google ups the frequency of its algorithm adjustments.

7. Top organic search positions may have diminishing returns.
Until now, a top ranking in organic search results guaranteed hefty amounts of traffic — but that was before standard results competed with video ads and social media posts for clicks. As Google places more dynamic and engaging content along with its top-ranked results — and as other search engines eventually follow suit — then those once formidable rankings may experience diminishing returns. This highlights the need to diversify SEO and social media efforts heading into 2016.

8. Google’s rich answers will make websites with unique or proprietary information more valuable.
Did you know that Google responds to more than one-in-three search queries with a rich answer? These automatic answers to people’s search queries appear to the right of the organic results, and they can completely negate any need to visit actual websites. Not only is this bad news for websites with content that’s readily available anywhere, but Google is working hard to make rich answers even more thorough. That said, websites containing unique or proprietary content could benefit greatly from rich answers, which typically include links to their sources of information. This is one more way for quality content producers to create success in SEO campaigns.

9. Page load optimization will matter more than ever.
Pages that load faster rank better in Google — that’s a known fact. In addition, large websites that load slowly may not be completely indexed by Google’s bots, effectively wasting your SEO efforts. But there’s more. Snappy, properly performing landing pages are more likely to gain traction on social media, while under-performing websites are more likely to have high bounce rates. Advertisers will also find that slow-loading landing pages are also prone to higher costs in Facebook because of the platform’s emphasis on quality user experiences.

10. Mobile website optimization will surpass desktop optimization.
Mobile Internet usage outpaced desktop Internet usage more than two years ago, and since then search algorithms have been shifting to reflect users’ priorities. We predict 2016 will be the year that mobile website optimization in certain industries will matter more than desktop optimization for overall SEO strategies. It’s not just website presentation that’s driving this seismic shift — it’s also the rising importance of apps and social media. Expect mobile optimization to not only surpass desktop, but to eventually leave it in the dust.

Want more SEO tips? Click here to get the Ultimate SEO checklist