As many small business owners can probably agree on, 2014 was a big year when it came to digital marketing. Among other things, consumers became increasingly reliant on mobile devices, customers embraced new technologies and platforms to interact with local businesses and perhaps most prominent, Google released an algorithm update that shook up the local SEO world. Suffice it to say that it can be complicated for small businesses to navigate the ever-evolving digital marketing space. As 2015 kicks into high gear, we decided to take a look at the digital marketing trends that we feel will most influence small businesses. Here are some tips to help you build a better local marketing strategy for your business.
Optimize for Mobile
Not surprisingly, mobile will continue to have a major impact in 2015. In fact, mobile traffic is predicted to eclipse desktop traffic this year, according to a study released by Morgan Stanley. Not only does this mean that businesses need to have a mobile-friendly website with click-to-call features and a clear presentation of address and hours of operation, but as more and more consumers access your website through mobile devices, mobile Web marketing will become paramount to gaining and maintaining new customers. Focusing on initiatives like mobile-optimized content, mobile ad and SMS campaigns and mobile-only offers will add significant value in 2015.
With the release of Google’s “Pigeon” algorithm update and Google My Business, a new platform designed to simplify local search for small businesses, nailing down a comprehensive, hyperlocal SEO strategy will be more important than ever. This means optimizing your Google My Business listing and enhancing your website, landing pages and directory listings with relevant, geo-local signals and targeted neighborhood information like zip codes and neighborhood-specific offers.
Don’t Forget the Basics
Speaking of SEO, it’s crucial that small businesses don’t lose sight of old-school (white hat) SEO tactics when devising an SEO hyperlocal strategy. The local SEO game is complex, and content is still king, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Google’s algorithm will only get smarter, so expect more updates throughout 2015. In order to remain in Google’s good graces this year, there are a variety of best practices to employ, but above all, make sure your content and overall user experience doesn’t suffer. This means beefing up your homepage and other site pages with unique, useful and localized content; avoiding any spam-like tactics or keyword-stuffing tricks; and including hyper-relevant data like city and state in your title tags, H1 tags and alt text.
Create a Geo-Targeted Social Media Marketing Strategy
As social networks continue to focus on paid promotion, it will be imperative for small business owners to invest the advertising dollars in order to remain competitive in the social media landscape. This doesn’t mean small business owners need to set aside a marketing budget for every social channel. Instead, focus on the platforms that drive the most conversions for your specific business. Utilize the geo-targeting technology that is imbedded in these platforms as well as third-party tools like Geofeedia and Moment.me, and make sure your social media presence is consistent, engaging and maintains a healthy balance between promotional and non-promotional content.