We’re officially at the mid-year point for 2015. It’s a great time to see what’s been changing in online marketing. It’s also a great time to state some basic facts that are time-tested.
First, here are four big changes in online marketing:
- Local search is where it’s at for most businesses. These are searches for things in your community. They might include:
“Web design company in Kailua-Kona” | “Kona real estate company”
“Seafood restaurant on Hawaii Island” | “96740 snorkeling tour”
All these searches are looking for something local. When you search for them, you are likely to see a map with pins on it, as Google knows where you are and for what you are looking.
The takeaway lesson is that your website needs to be optimized for local search. There are many aspects of this, but with approximately 50% of searches looking for local content, you need to be in this space. This trend will accelerate in the next few years.
- Mobile search / Mobile optimized websites are essential. There has been a huge shift in the way people search: from a desktop computer to mobile devices, such as phone and tablets. In the first half of this year, Google started omitting websites that are not mobile-friendly from search results from mobile devices. This means that a person searching on a phone for a restaurant in Kona, Hawaii will only see search results for restaurants with mobile-friendly/optimized websites. Some website can be converted to mobile friendliness fairly easily; others involve more work and greater cost. You are losing new customers if you don’t have a mobile/mobile-friendly website.
- Trickery and “black hat” search engine optimization are increasingly dangerous. Think about it: will a few guys creating spammy links be able to outsmart the 50,000 or so very smart people who work at Google? If they could outsmart Google, do you think they would tell you the secret? Google’s goal is to give the best search results, so ways to trick the search engines are directly in opposition to this goal. Google has spent billions on keep results meaningful, so when someone promises you some hocus pocus ways to get visibility online, you need to be a skeptic. The first half of 2015 saw several Google changes regarding nefarious SEO techniques; it will become harder and harder to game the system, so just spend your time and money doing things the right way. There are no shortcuts!
- There are only four worthwhile online advertising platforms for most business: Google, Bing, Facebook and LinkedIn. All others are fighting for a very small percentage of searches. The ad rates for the 2nd and 3rd tier platforms are often less expensive, but you run the risk of wasting a lot of time for a very small market share. Yelp is notorious for very aggressive ad sales to local businesses. Buyer beware: strong pitches tend to mask poor products! I only see this trend increasing in the second half of the year and into the future.
Here a few things that haven’t changed:
- Your website needs to be technically sound, user-friendly and fast loading. If your website is sub-optimal, you should start by fixing it. No amount of marketing effort will overcome a poorly-designed, content poor website.
- A content strategy—weekly updates, blogging, social media post, etc.—is essential for online marketing. If you don’t have a blog, get one and use it. The key to search engine marketing is to have content that matches what people are searching for. Create it, and they will find you!
- Put your eggs in several baskets. There is no singular marketing strategy that will propel your business to success. You need to have a good online presence, first, but after that look at other ways such as email, newsletters, mailings, paid online marketing, print ads, vehicle graphics, signage, event sponsorships, community involvement, face-to-face marketing and so on. Don’t sit behind a computer and expect miracles. Likewise, ignoring online marketing is like wearing only one shoe.
- Getting help from professionals can save you time, stress and money. It’s been several years since a pure do-it-yourself model of online marketing has worked. The changes are just too rapid and complex, and to keep up with them is a full-time job. This has always been true in business: do what you do well and hire the best people possible to do what you don’t do well. Most businesses of any size or value that handles all online marketing in-house are wasting staff resources and achieving sub-par results.
There have been some huge changes in the online marketing world in the first six months of 2015. We have seen many businesses lose a significant amount of online visibility due to neglect and a “set-it-and-forget-it mentality”. We have also seen many businesses capitalize on these changes and leapfrog their competitors without a large amount of effort or cost. The victories, as they always do, will go to those who make a continuous effort to evolve and adapt to market conditions.
Kona Impact | 320-6077