When people in your local area have a need for specific products and services, they are often pressed for time. They subsequently look for the easiest way to get the best possible information to find what they need.
Often today, individuals are using a mobile device and are in their automobile looking for quick solutions. Those that do use mobile devices, are increasingly turning to voice search. This means that when they conduct their search they literally say or speak what it is that they are looking for, instead of typing it in.
In this case, companies need to become the most logical choice for search engines to display information to users. Gone are the days when companies could put all of the right keywords on their page and expect to be found easily by people who were searching. Since the early days of SEO, search engines have grown more sophisticated in an effort to make things easier for their customers.
You may be asking, well if my website is no longer appearing in search engines based on the keywords… what IS it appearing based on? This is a great question and one worth exploring, because a good portion of your website visitors in the future will depend on it.
Search engine company Google, along with the other major US search engines, have come up with a new standard for web listings. While it hasn't yet taken full effect, parts of it has already been implemented.
Companies that have been working to make themselves more relevant, have been finding that they’re appearing for an increasing number of search queries. Although search engine company Google, has always recommended that webmasters, marketing consultants, and businesses attempt to be relevant, it didn't evaluate them on any bases other than keywords. However, now these large searchengine companies are implementing systems that look for what they believe to be relevant.
This means that the products and services that you offer should be made visible to the web. This will allow those who are looking for an exact product or service, can be directed to it with a simple voice search.
Google is now implementing technology that would make it easy for an Internet user to pick up their mobile device and ask a question that a searcher would ask. For example, it is believed that searchers are asking questions through their devices to the search engines like, “Where is the nearest place where I can find a hammer?”
Then, Google's engineers would expect that its search engine ranking system (called it’s algorithm by marketers) would go into action to help that individual find all of the stores closest to location (using GPS technology) by making them appear on that user's screen. These results would also appear with all the alternative products and services that match the description of their query (what they ask for).
This is important because prior to 2013, if companies made their products and services visible to the web, it may have been by default. By putting the exact model number on a webpage, it was expected that search engine robots would "crawl." To find the product name and model.
However, the equation has now changed and search engine analysts are allowing companies to communicate what they feel is most important to their customers to the web. This is now being called "markup" technology. It is cutting edge and companies that implement it will be in the forefront as their competitors struggle to catch up.
What will be needed to implement the new “markup” technology?
First, what will be needed is for consultants and webmasters is to be absolutely clear on the new standard. They will then need to be able to systematically implemented on the websites of their customers, companies and clients.
In that time, there are likely to be many that will make an attempt to make markup technology available on the web in an automated fashion. However, currently there is no real organized way to make individual items, products and services available and visible to the web in an automated fashion. It takes a knowledge of the markup language and its principles to do it successfully.
The question you may have as a small business owner is, when will all this happen and what do you need to do right now. The truth of the matter is that it has already begun. You may have heard those that work with small businesses talk about how search engine optimization (SEO) has changed. If they get into their industry dialogue, you may have heard them mention something about "Hummingbird".
These consultants are not talking about bird-watching. They're talking about the first step toward making this kind of new web search and SEO the standard for all websites. In many cases, webmasters found that after the implementation of Hummingbird, their website was ranked much lower than it had been in the past. In fact, some business owners found that their website no longer appeared at all in the search results.
Just as there were losers in this scenario, there were also winners. By default, when a number of search engine placement moved down, others moved up by default. Therefore, your company could be the beneficiary of this new technology. In fact, companies that had been working with consultants to put together good content providing solutions to their users, found their website rising in search engine results.
Therefore, for companies that want to know what they can begin doing right now in order to get ready for this new kind of search engine there is a path of success that they can follow. They can start by following the pathways of those companies that have been able to benefit from the implementation of "Hummingbird". While there is no exact science on what happened in the impact on all websites across the world; success still leaves clues.
Companies that were successful were able to turn their website into a resource for their customers. They made their website authoritative on the subject matter of the products and services that they offer. They turned their attentions to their customers and users and provided a human experience.
But using the term human, doesn't make a lot of sense without trying to explain what that means in this context. What does it mean for a company to provide their customers or website visitors a human experience?
A human experience is one where the customers get answers in the way that they think and ask about the subject matter. In other words, you could think of successful sites as growing bodies of the answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ).
What Kind of Things Are Successful Companies Doing?
In effect, companies that are finding success are answering the real questions and problems of their customers on their actual site. They are then organizing that information in a way that makes it easy for the customer to access.
Successful companies have actually gone one step further. They have taken the time to make their company visible and relevant on the web. This means that the "markup" that was spoken of earlier, has been painstakingly implemented so that customers looking for individual products, services and even ideas are able to find them on the websites of companies that have been doing this forward thinking.
To start down this road, companies should take what they have in the way of knowledge of what their customers want, and want to know and to get it into an organized format. They must then work to answer these future queries in detail. Of course, since these companies will be in business, they will want to provide the solutions based on their inventory of products and services.
However, that does not mean that client education will take a backseat to flat-out sales messages. What will probably happen is that the companies that succeed will figure out how to do both on their websites. They will learn how to bring customers into their marketing funnel by education, and then sell to them in a number of different venues.
Companies that have been doing video marketing over the last 12 to 24 months, have probably already been looking at their customers’ and prospects’ frequently asked questions (FAQ). The commonly held belief in video marketing is that in order to have your video seen by many customers and viewers, you need to be able to talk to them about things that they are actively looking for answers to.
This has been seen widely on the video sharing site YouTube. YouTube has fast become the second most used search engine in the world. That is because many people go to YouTube looking for visual demonstrations of the answers to their questions.
For example, if they want to fix something, they will go to YouTube and look for the answer, according to the product, model number and the problem. If they want to know how to build something they will undertake the same kind of search. Companies that have been ahead of the curve, have sought to answer those questions in video form before their customers actually ask them.
While these videos answer the questions there are subtle sales messages that indicate that customers should come to them in order to get what they need to execute the answers to their questions. This is the kind of scenario that Google planners would like to see happen across the web in search.
They want to see people going to the web looking for answers to their questions. They want to see those interested in answering those questions give them the answer. Of course then, they would then be encouraged to invite them back to their site or local area in order to fully execute the answer.
This does pose the question as to what companies that don't really have customers that ask questions need to do. In other words, your business might sell a product or service that doesn't lend itself to answering questions. Your customer or consumer is looking for the best possible value for the lowest possible price. They are coming to your location for what is essentially a commodity.
The expectation for these companies is the same. If they choose to rely on the old model of using keywords, links, and other tricks in order to be seen in search, they will slowly become irrelevant to those who are looking. As was stated earlier, none of this will happen overnight. It will happen gradually and companies will slowly begin to fall out of the search results if they are not looking to engage their customers.
Businesses that have retail operations can find other ways other than answering product specific questions to make themselves visible. These companies can make themselves active in the local and international communities in which they exist. They can and should sponsor local events that allow customers and prospects to experience their brand, while seeing them active in the community.
At the same time, retail businesses will need to undertake solutions in order to get their products and make them available and visible on the web. In other words, they will need to engage in the new "markup", being careful to make sure that they are adequately describing the relevance to a particular set of customers. In the new landscape of search engine optimization, the world has become one of fact, relevance and relationships.
Relationships are important on the web. In fact, businesses have been discovering the power of using social media in order to make connections with their customers and prospects. In some cases, businesses have been active in sharing their content with the rest of the community. They have users that read, comment and share their message. They have established relationships.
These relationships will be important in signaling the companies that are considered to be significant on the web. Companies that demonstrate a willingness to connect with their clients will continue to be considered authoritative, as they are now. This shift toward this kind of relevance began in 2010 and has continued up until now.
What is commonly called mobile search, is really only part of what a company must do. While it matters what kind of website a company has, it requires expertise and knowledge with the new in order to be in position as the web makes its transition. In other words, companies should be working with online marketers in order to make sure that all of their Web properties works synergistically in order to make sure that they are found.
Therefore, there certain things that every company should be doing in order to get ready for the changes that are taking place. The first most important aspect of getting ready is to seek professional help.
Local marketers are engaged in continuous education regarding both social media and search engine optimization. They have been aware of these changes for some time, and have been changing their business practices in order to accommodate their customers and clients.
They know and understand that the clients that they have that understand these changes and implement real strategies (instead of short-term fixes) will be one of those businesses that will always remain as one of those top ranked. They also understand, that the web is very fluid and requires constant maintenance.
This is important to note because you'll probably read, hear and see many solutions being offered by software vendors and product representatives. They're likely to be selling automated systems in order to make these things available to business owners, with the sales pitch that there is “no knowledge or experience required”. They will make their pitch based on the ease of being able to execute all of these new changes without having to actually know what they are.
However, as a business owner, you may not know exactly how the technical process works, but you do need to know and understand what is happening as the Internet becomes a main channel into your business. In other words, it is important for you to know the markup language and it’s important for you to know that it's being executed on your site.
Your visibility will depend in the future on your consistency in executing these principles. Any company can pay for a one-time update to all of their content on the web. However, one of the changes that has occurred since 2010, is search engine dependence on "fresh content".
Search rankings have been impacted by what is considered to be recent news. Companies that can answer the questions according to the current consensus, is likely to be visible versus companies that ask and answer simple questions only once.
All of this lends itself to developing a partnership with someone that understands your business, the market as well as these new changes in marketing online. It will be to a companies benefit to make sure that they are actively engaging their customers where they are.
While a number of customers and prospects are hanging out on social media, a considerable number of them still use search engines. The appeal of marketing on social media, is that much of the activity that takes place, does so at no cost to a company.
However, these avenues tend to be slow to convert, and require extreme patience. It is important for every business owner to understand, that doing business with on social media platforms is typically "interruption". In other words, your business is pursuing the prospect.
In search, customers and prospects are looking for answers. Companies willing to meet them while they're on their way get the benefits of catching someone with a solution to a problem that they have demonstrated that they are looking for. Engaging in help with marketing consultants that know SEO isn’t a “necessary evil”, it is a sound investment for any businesses future.