Owning a successful online business has gotten radically more complicated in the last five years. With the addition of blogging, social media, SEO, video, and the constant changing of all platforms, site owners can hardly keep up. And, there are a lot of entrepreneurs capitalizing on those pain points, including BlogAid. I’ve been in the business of websites nearly 15 years and I’ve been reading the tea leaves and here’s what I predict is coming down the pike for site owners. I’m aligning my business to be in accordance with what I see in my crystal ball and you’ll be ahead of the game and in-the-know if you take heed too.
Change is the Only Constant
Every single platform you have to use to be a successful site owner changes. You adapt or perish. The real problem is that there are more platforms and elements than ever on which you need to keep activity current, and each one makes updates more frequently. The more popular ones include:
- Google SEO
- Cyber Security
How in the world are you supposed to keep up with how to get the most from every platform and element when they all make major updates 2-3 times a year?
What you end up with is a constant learning curve.
Who has time for that? You have a business to run!
In the near future I see big changes for service providers because the days of fully autonomous, successful DIY site ownership and online marketing are coming to an end.
The Future of WordPress as a User
There was a time when it was difficult to find any tutorials on how to use WordPress. I know. I looked for them. And I finally decided to write my own. That was six years ago. Now there is a glut of info on using WordPress and yet 80% of the clients who come to me still don’t know the basics. It’s not their fault.
WordPress has become a true CMS (Content Management System), which is great. But it has also become more complex than the average user wants to spend time learning just to put up a blog post. My training classes have gone from one hour to three hours, and that just covers the basics of WordPress. The next six to nine hours cover SEO, online marketing, content, and conversion. And then there’s hosting, backups, keeping everything updated, and learning how to write copy. More on all of that in a moment.
Takeaway: WordPress is becoming complex at a level that it is difficult for new site owners to start using it without paying for training in either time searching for free material or hiring someone.
The Future of Social Media
Folks who had previously focused entirely on social media, especially a single platform, like Facebook, have had to diversify and offer help with site setup and/or copywriting, or in being a total outsource provider of social media and content marketing for their clients that perfectly balances SEO and readability. And G+ has changed everything for getting the most out of it through complimentary posting both to your site and on that platform.
On top of that G+ has offered such a multitude of ways to connect that you almost have to have a manual on each of them just to get started, especially with the various forms of Hangouts.
There is no longer any such thing as learning a single platform and maxing out only its potential over a long period of time and drawing a huge audience on it (unless your business is to become a guru on that platform). There are too many platforms and too much constant change on them. Plus, the din of noise you have to compete with is staggering.
The level of gimmicks to get attention is staggering too. This is nowhere more true than on Facebook.
Plus, copywriting on your blog has to be coordinated with your social media efforts. The point of social media is to drive traffic and engagement back to your site and/or to provide social proof that eventually drives traffic to your site and ultimately, your offers.
Takeaway: Site owners will no longer be qualified to compete to be heard either in search or on social media in a way that garners true ROI unless they either hire a pro to teach them the techniques and then take the time to do them, or hire it out to those same pros.
Big Changes, Big Clues
The most significant changes I see as indicators of where things are headed come in the form of theme and hosting providers.
Theme designers have always offered hosting as either a reseller or an affiliate. Now they are including site repair and maintenance packages too.
And companies that focus entirely on managed hosting and maintenance services are on the rise. Many of these new managed hosting services are exclusively for WordPress sites. But, they have restrictions. It’s almost like WordPress.com in that you can only use approved plugins and are not free to make changes at the core. (This is not true of all managed WP hosting, but is the trend.) They have to do this to guarantee a secure environment for everyone, and that’s a huge perk.
In fact, there are a lot of perks with these packages, but they carry a cost that is six times higher than regular shared hosting.
One of the reasons this trend is such a huge indicator of where things are headed is because of the increasing complexity of site security, which includes keeping your site updated and backed up at all times. It also includes using themes and plugins that are deemed safe and don’t break with every update of WordPress, which is at least three times a year now.
Takeaway: Managed site hosting and/or site maintenance packages will be the norm, leaving site owners free to focus on their marketing and promotion.
The Future of Multi-Media
We’ve heard for the last two years that video is the new super power in marketing, especially by leveraging YouTube. But, audio, namely in the form of podcasts, is expected to finally gain a place of prominence in the mix. People are busy. And it’s easier for them to listen to a podcast than it is to read a post or watch a video. A podcast can be as low tech as recording a phone conversation or as high tech as a studio that rivals any radio station.
But, nothing will ever substitute for the power of video. The production quality has gone up while the equipment and software prices have come down. Still, there is a steep learning curve in producing a great video, especially when you are trying to standout on YouTube, which is the second largest search engine, right behind its owner, Google
Ebooks have also taken off as the popularity of dedicated readers, such as Kindle, or its app for other tablets, continues to rise. There is no doubt that being a published author raises the credential level of any online marketer. There has never been a better time to self-publish. Unfortunately, there is a dizzying array of things to learn about successful self-publishing, including digital formatting options and promotion techniques on sites like Amazon.
Takeaway: Multi-media is portable on a variety of devices, making it a popular choice among mobile users of phones and tablets. It’s also a tremendous source of lead generation and traffic back to a site. It’s only going to continue to grow in popularity, and there will be plenty of room for how-to consultants to enter the market.
Huge Changes to SEO
SEO as we’ve known it is dead. In the last two years Google has finally started cracking down on cheaters and folks looking to game the system with black-hat practices. Oh, it’s still going on, and it still gets results in the short term, but site owners are putting their online business at risk by doing it. Sometimes they don’t find out until after a Google algorithm penalty hits their site. It can cost big bucks in time and money to recover from it.
On top of the penalties, Google is also handing out perks, mainly via G+ and mainly for authority.
For the last three years there has been a significant trend toward focused niche marketing. The more narrow your core message, the more likely you are to be found search and the greater your potential to influence your target audience.
Google is now looking for authority from content creators that have a verifiable digital identity, namely on G+, who write quality content on a specific topic.
I actually had to say this to a client recently in a way that put teeth in it. She paid a copywriter to create the initial content on her site. It was stellar in every way and set her up to “own” her niche locally. Now she wanted to blog and make changes to a few things on the site. I told her that she would have to take a class to learn how. She said she wasn’t really all that interested in SEO. I told her that it didn’t matter whether she was interested or not. That is what it would take to not goof all the super work that she just paid for. If she wanted to meet her online business goals, she had to learn how to blog to create SEO authority. Period.
Takeaway: G+ and authorship are at the dead center of the spectrum between relationship marketing and SEO marketing. To run a successful site, you have to know these things, practice them, keep up with changes, or hire a geek and/or a copywriter who does.
The Future of Google Plus
Actually, that header should read, G+ is the Future.
Do whatever you have to do to get on it and start using it. Hire someone, take a course, scour YouTube. Just make it happen sooner rather than later. Actually, it’s already later. Move like you needed to be there yesterday.
The tea leaves I’m reading tell me that doing business online has evolved into a marketplace of complexity. Knowledge can be leveraged into dollars. You either have to invest in knowing what you are doing or hire trusted folks who do.
My crystal ball tells me that there is a growing trend toward outsourcing the mundane and the techie, like site maintenance and security. There is also a trend toward outsourcing copywriting and social media. Site themes are getting more minimalistic while site content, SEO, and conversion are getting more multilayered.
I’m currently positioning BlogAid to take advantage of the changes I see coming down the pike. I’ve quietly been test running my Geek Behind the Curtain services for several months now and the response has been fantastic. I’m working with several wordsmiths by providing private sandboxes in which to build the sites, then migrating them to the client’s real hosting, then setting up all of the site connections such as Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, SEO, and similar services. I’ve also been training other trainers to offer the same sort of consulting I do, but in their native countries across the globe. Folks enjoy working with locals. I’m already starting to branch out even further to do complete site maintenance including backend maintenance duties, security, backups, through to SEO and setting up content and conversion systems that get results. There’s more, including new partnerships that are a win-win-win for me, the partner, and the clients.
In other words, BlogAid and its partners will be taking care of all components of the site itself, plus content, SEO, social media, and conversion so that business owners can focus on their special areas of expertise. And all at rates that are in line with my philosophy of affordable value without gimmicks.
What do you see coming down the pike for you and your business? Is it all getting to be too much to run your online presence? Where do you need help the most?