Need to Know SEO for Small Businesses 2018

Everything changes, again. 

Are you ready for the future? It seems like just as soon as we’ve got a handle on our digital marketing efforts, the ‘next big thing’ comes along and changes everything we have worked hard to achieve. From AI and predictive Search, to the loathed Instagram algorithm change, we are constantly having to adapt our approach to growing our online presence, and using the internet to generate business.  

However, as we begin prepare for the year ahead, it is crucial to plan for key digital trends, and what comes next. I know a lot of people find changes to SEO and social media algorithms very frustrating, but try to see it as an opportunity to innovate and to use your creativity be ahead of the game. When platforms make algorithm changes, they are ultimately trying to better serve their users.  As a product or service provider, you should think like this too across all of your marketing efforts. 

This post looks at some of the key trends in SEO, marketing, and technology for 2018, and makes suggestions as to how you might utilise these key developments to grow your business. 

Voice Search

Alexa, how do I take advantage of voice search? 

Voice search had a fantastic year in 2017, with Siri, Alexa and Google Voice becoming not only popular, but very, very normalised. Would you believe we are getting too lazy to even type searches into our phones? It is estimated that by 2020, voice search will account for 50% of all searches.

As a result, if you are not optimising your site and your business for voice search, you could be losing out on half of your traffic in just two years time. This is particularly true for those who own service based businesses, or have retail locations, as almost a quarter of all voice search enquiries are for local services. But fear not, optimising for voice search is actually pretty straight forward. As a short introduction, here are some key things you can do to prepare your business for the rise of voice search. 

  • Google My Business – In order to appear in voice search as a local service, your gonna have to be listed as a local service. Make sure you have fully completed your Google My Business listing, optimising it as far as possible. This includes;

  • Ensuring that you list a local number, and that the number listed matches the number on your website.

  • Keep your details such as opening hours, payment methods accepted etc.  up to date.

  • Check the image that appears – you might want to change this over time if the look of your business changes.

  • The next thing to keep in mind for voice search is Google Reviews. You will need a rating of 4 stars or higher to be in with a chance of being found in voice search. But how can you improve your reviews? Its all about strategy. I once heard of a property lawyer who asked clients to complete a Google Review of his services as he handed over the keys to his clients new homes– catching people whilst their excited.

But for your own business, why not create an email template for asking people to review your services, or have them do it before they leave? You know what will seem right for your business, but try to have a goal number of reviews per month or per year. Fifty 5-star reviews for next year? You got this! 

  • You also want to think about featured snippets, but since it is a key trend for 2018 all in itself, I thought we could give it its own section.

Featured Snippets

What the hell is a featured snippet and how can it help my business? Featured snippets are those boxes at the top of Google search when you make an enquiry, that look to answer your question in a succinct way. They are responsible for a dramatic drop in click-through rate, alongside Google My Business listings, with almost 35% of all enquiries resulting in a ‘no-click’ – because the searchers questions have been answered by Google. 

Featured snippets are an opportunity for small business owners, as getting into snippets can dramatically increase your search traffic. For example, my blog post on trial shifts is currently the snippet answer for the query ‘do I need to be paid for a trial shift’ and has clocked up 82,000 views. This is in comparison to some of the other posts on the site with views from 2k-30k views. But how do you get into snippets? There seems to be no trick to doing so, you simply have to serve search queries better than anyone else. This means creating high quality content that visitors to your site find valuable. It can also be helpful to create a FAQs page, with very niche questions and answers. Share the specialist information you have in your niche, and attract visitors looking for specific information. You can also use keyword research tools to determine which questions your customer base is looking for answers to. 

A good example is on the Ryot GRL media site, we are commonly found in search for ‘is Kiko Milano vegan’. This information tells me that a lot of people are looking for this kind of information about popular makeup brands. Sure, we don’t sell those brands, but by providing this information you are bringing people to your little chunk of the internet, and if they like it they will stick around, and even come back for more. 

Another important point about snippets, is that these answers are generally used to answer voice search queries. As such, getting into snippets has the double benefit of allowing you to appear in voice search, and making you the authoritative answer for certain Google search queries.

So there you have it, some of the key SEO trends for 2018 that you can easily implement to improve your traffic, and win more customers in 2018 – the future doesn’t look so scary now right? 

Emii Lou Ryot (Emma Flood) is a law and digital marketing expert based in Glasgow. She is Head of Legal Content Marketing at Peloton Communications, founder of ‘GRL-Fight’, a legal guidance website for women and girls, and is the co-founder of Ryot GRL – a media site and online store dedicated to bringing together badass babes through ethical fashion, beauty, feminism and the struggles of being a millennial. She doesn’t have any hobbies because she has three jobs. Sorry bout it. Catch her on insta @emiilouryot @ryotgrl . Vist Emii's website here.