The shift has already begun but over the next 5-10 years, the shift in how people find businesses they consume from will dramatically change. For the last 30 years putting your business out there for people to find was all about being listed in the Yellow Pages and other hard-copy directories. This was how people searched for what they needed. With the introduction of the internet came a new way for people to find businesses and make decisions on who to hire or give their business to.
These days anyone under 30 years old will tell you that any time they have to make a decision on where to spend their money they turn to the internet. This could be for a restaurant to spend $20 for dinner up to thousands of dollars spent on a new roof or a paint job. The under 30 crowd has been raised with a cell phone in hand and with this wealth of information at their fingertips they have learned how to effectively find any information they desire online. So how can your business capitalize on this trend? We believe that there are a few things that every business should be doing to get ahead of the curve.
In the early years of the internet few people understood the power of these search engines but as search engines became all the rage in the 90’s people started to realize how powerful this online presence could be for their business. The first movers in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) reaped huge rewards.
Imagine in the early years of search engines that you were the first business of your kind online and anyone who typed “Painter” in the search engine saw only your name. Can you imagine the value of being the only one? I would argue that this would be invaluable. These days there are literally hundreds of thousands of painters across the country that are all online. Search for painters on Google now without any more specific search terms and you would come up with hundreds or maybe thousands of pages of results.
However, search has evolved greatly over the years and the latest trend is Local Search. Local Search is when someone types in a service and a location together. So searching for Painters near Portland, OR will now narrow down your search to local painters. These results are populated from many smaller review sites such as Yelp, Kudzu, Citysearch, etc.
When you plug in a local search for Google you will notice that nearly 80% of the results are from these local review sites with star listings showing up. In order to take advantage of putting yourself in front of your customer base, you need to be listed on all of these sites. If you are not listed you are giving up free visibility.
Once you are listed across all of these sites you need to make sure that when you do show up in search results that your customers see a positive message. Many people are so focused on showing up first on Google or being on the first page that they fail to realize that if they do show up first and that first listing has a bad review or negative feedback from a customer they are only hurting themselves. SEO can put you at the top of the list but it cannot cover up a bad reputation.
As the younger generations grow up and become the next generation of consumers with disposable incomes the realm of online marketing will only become more important. Kids these days grow up with an iPhone or an iPad in hand before they can even walk. Many children under 5 could more effectively use an Ipad than many 50-year-olds. This trend is not changing. Are you doing what you need to be doing to put yourself in front of your future customers?