The big news in 2010 revolved around changes made by four major players including WordPress, Google, Facebook, and Apple, and how those changes impacted the online marketing landscape for website owners. It’s no longer enough to have an online presence for your business. You now have to optimize your online marketing strategy or risk dropping off the virtual map. In 2011, that is the only map that will count. Here’s a wrap up of the big changes in 2010 and what you can do in 2011 to build your business.
In the summer of 2010, WordPress finally released a completely overhauled software engine and new base theme. The 32 million WordPress site owners now have more choices than ever for fully customizable themes with layout options that enhance their reader’s experience, help promote their content, and increase their overall SEO.
The change also sent designers scrambling to bring their themes up to the new specs and spawned a surge of popularity for themes based on a robust framework like those offered by StudioPress, Thesis, and Genesis.
In the fall of 2010, Google began a series of announcements about sweeping changes to search algorithms and how results would appear on the page. This affected the order of paid and organic results, as well as Google Map business listings.
For many, it turned high-level SEO into a guessing game of how to revise their sites to remain, or finally appear, on the front page of Google. The one thing that became clear was that Google was cracking down on SEO cheaters and that business owners would be rewarded for claiming their listing in Google Places, which affects the accuracy of local search. More on how hot that will be in 2011 in a moment.
Most of the talk by Facebook users in the last half of 2010 was lamenting the waves of changes to their profile page. The talk from business site owners was the news that Facebook finally overtook Google as the number one influencer of purchase decisions. That was inevitable. Word-of-mouth advertising has always been the gold standard. Facebook is a collection of communities where friends help friends.
Facebook has over 500 million users and over half are logged in every day. Getting a billboard on that Internet highway is big business. Nearly half of all small businesses have a Facebook page. Social media marketing and online advertising will comprise about 35% of business owner’s entire marketing budget in 2011.
The surge in mobile device use in 2010 has been the most significant game changer in online marketing strategy and all of the previously mentioned players are jumping on the bandwagon to make their offerings available to mobile users.
The hottest online marketing trends for 2011 include:
- Mobile friendly sites
- Local search
- Social media marketing
- Online video
Facing stiff competition from Facebook and Bing, in 2010, Google made over 40 acquisitions to shore up its offerings in the areas sited above. There are over 34,000 searches on Google every second. An increasing number of those are coming from folks using mobile devices to find local offerings.
If your business is not engaging clients online, you may find yourself out of business because no one can find you anymore.
What you can do in 2011
Get a Site
If you don’t have a site, get one, immediately. You could spend $500-$900 dollars on a great looking site that does not perform well. In 2012, you’ll be spending that money (and time) all over again to do it right. Invest in educating yourself about online marketing before you spend a penny on a site. And, don’t try to save money by doing it yourself. It will cost you more in the long run. I know this because I’ve made a living as a second site trainer/designer for folks who made those expensive mistakes the first time around.
After you get a site published, the number one way you can help yourself as a small business owner with a physical address (not a P.O. box) is to claim your listing on Google Places and take advantage of everything it offers you, like a picture of your building, reviews, and coupons. It’s free, and it could put you on the first page of Google in a week. This one thing will bring you new clients in the shortest period of time.
Engage your Clients Online
Start with the big one, Facebook. You do have to start with a personal account. From there, you can post your business page. Even a simple, static listing is worth doing.
Begin engaging in steps. Learn how to find friends on Facebook and ask them to “Like” your business page. Post specials and sales on your Wall. Even telling folks what you’re up to is good. It shows activity without selling anything directly.
Start blogging. Search engines and readers love fresh content. You can have your blog posts auto-feed onto your Facebook page and even to your reader’s email inbox.
LinkedIn is positioning itself to become a major online player in 2011 and is a good resource for you to explore as a professional online listing.
2011 is Your Year
This is the time to make it happen. You may have 100 excuses for why you don’t already have a professional looking site that performs well. The fact is, when you loose business to your competitors who made getting online a priority, those excuses won’t mount up to much anymore. The time and money you invest in getting it done will pay for itself with new clients and more sales.