Local Small Business Web Strategy for 2019
Local Small Business Web Strategy for 2019
Yes, in 2018 Google changed the game again.
And if you haven’t already, it’s time to get serious about your local business website, or you’ll get crushed by your competitors in 2019
There were two particularly important changes to Google in 2018 that every local small business operator needs to be aware of.
The first change is that the internet giant has made ‘local search’ its primary focus, and this is both an opportunity, and a threat, to every local small business.
Googles approach to controlling local search has been to launch the “Google My business” initiative - on face value its a “free” listing of your business on the first page of Google, and includes a map pin to your address, reviews and more, with a dashboard you can access to add content, reply to reviews etc.
The majority of local small business in the Tamworth region have not fully embraced this platform yet, and I have to warn everyone, you will ignore this platform at your peril.
Ultimately, the end game that Google is pursing is a “zero click” strategy –it wants your customers to stay on the Google platform and not click off to your website. This is a huge risk to all small business operators, but it is also an opportunity – it’s better to swim with the tide, but you must also be aware of the risks involved and also have some strategies in place to counteract what is ultimately, a battle for control of the consumer.
I’ll be talking a lot more about this in 2019, it’s a fundamental shift in the online marketing landscape, with profound consequences for all local small businesses.
The second significant shift, is the increase in paid ad placements on the first page of Google. Up until 2017, there were only three ad placements at the top of the page, and there was a sidebar of ads on the right hand margin. With the growth of mobile search, Google removed the right hand margin ads, and within months, introduced the google map for local search ( which then led to the google my business platform.)
Significantly, its now not uncommon to find no organic listing on the first ¾ of the front page of google for a local business search term.
Lets take “ Tamworth Website Designer” as a search term. You can see in this screenshot, there are now 4 ads at the top of the page, then the google map- so I’m literally scrolling ¾ down the page to get to the first organic search result – this is a profound shift in the way Google serves organic search results, paid ads and of course, how it promotes ‘ google my business’ listings.
Now, its also interesting to see here, that the #1 listing for “Tamworth website Designer” in the google my business listing, is also the #1 organic listing for the same search term – so this is an important clue as to why your business website is crucially important to the positioning of your google my business listing. This is why, amongst other strategies, small business owners must double down on their efforts to not only build, but continue improving, their website in 2019.
Here we finally see the #1 organic listing for “Tamworth Website Designer” a long way down the page, but significantly important for many reasons none the less.
Now, I will share a few opinions as to where I see this all heading over the next few years.
First of all, if you are not currently doing paid online ads, expect to start doing them in 2019, and plan for them to be a part of your regular business operating costs from 2020 onwards . You will need to pay more to attract the clients who used to come organically to your website.
Secondly, if you are not yet using google analytics, you must start now. If you cant, or wont do it, you must hire someone who can set this up and monitor it for you. Increasingly, businesses who direct their business growth by assessing analytics are making better business decisions, both offline and online.
Third, expect to pay for either the maintenance, or exposure for your google my business listing in the years to come – this will become an increasingly important space for attracting clients, whilst it is free now, we can see by observing google over the last few years, that its free offerings cloak a very savvy and profitable business model that is extracting billions in online revenue.
Forth, your website and your email marketing list will become more valuable, not less as google expands its ‘google my business’ operations. Neglected websites, that are slow and with old and out-dated content will be over-run by savvy operators who see their website as a promotion tool for their business. Operators who keep their web content fresh and who keep page speed fast, will make inroads against their competitors who neglect the fact that a website and an email marketing list are both cornerstones of a cohesive marketing plan, and necessary to build a viable local small business in 2019 and beyond.