Does the Future of SEO Favour Small Business?

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There have been many Google updates over recent years that favour particular business types and niches. This can be highlighted by understanding that for example, the Panda updates favour websites that deliver quality content, whereas the Pigeon update favoured local businesses and local directory sites.

We all understand how difficult it is within the SEO industry to speculate about future updates. This therefore proves the importance of acting quickly and authoritatively towards trends. It is easy to suggest that corporate organisations will benefit from new updates delivered by Google over the coming months and years, however there are now many reasons why experts in the field are thinking that this next round of updates may well favour smaller businesses and individual entrepreneurs.

Below we have looked at five reasons why future updates delivered by Google may well benefit these small businesses.

1. The Long Tail Advantage
As we all know, large organisations with their huge SEO budgets and long history have many generic keywords absolutely tied down. Many smaller businesses are therefore trying to gain access to this dominated position but, is that the correct goal?

Let’s not forget that generic terms would be considered as the research stage of a searchers journey. Once they have researched their term / product / service they will then look deeper at what they are actually after with a longer tail search term. This is known as the consideration stage of the user’s journey and the area that truly returns the potential for a sale.

This consideration stage is an ideal time for smaller business to gain a foothold. By being targeted to a smaller set of keywords but with a longer tail then you may be gathering a smaller number of visitors but, these visitors will be at a closer stage to close in their buying cycle.

This means that although generic terms will drive the majority of traffic its long tail queries that will harness the majority of sales. This is where small business has its advantage and can compete against the big boys.

Let’s not forget that the new trend for voice and mobile search will lead to conversational terms that are without doubt longer tailed. We must also consider that with items such as the Knowledge Graph then more direct answers are provided immediately, bypassing traditional search all together.

Finally, as users gain more knowledge on what provides a direct answer to their searching requirement then a wider breadth of low competition keywords within a niche market will fall solidly into the territory of smaller business.

2. A More Localised Search
Back in 2014 the Pigeon update was a massive re-design of Googles SERPS. There have been many other tweaks and updates since Pigeon and this constant engineering can therefore draw one to the conclusion that local search forms a significant part of Googles future and will only get bigger and better.

Local search has now been refined for mobile devices and as more searchers submit their geographic location by default, this means delivered results will obviously become far more targeted. It could be summarised that local results will climb in importance which enables local business to become far more competitive, as long as they realise this situation and are available to attack it. With the spread of wearable devices, mobile technology will obviously become even more mobile and therefore user preference toward local results will grow. As most “local” businesses are smaller SME style, then these trends will work in their favour.

3. The Rise of Social Signals
As we all know, social signals are not really understood in the world of search. Where some organisations swear by them, others consider it a fad. Those that believe the sharing of a social content article is a direct ranking signal are sadly mistaken. The way it does benefit your search campaign is that this social sharing may lead to that article’s rise in popularity, which may well mean it will earn more inbound links and thereby result in an indirect increase in the articles rank.

I think we all now know that Google are doing more to integrate social into their SERP results and therefore we believe that social will only ever increase in its importance with SEO. Don’t forget, users are only ever using social channels more for content discovery and the answer to many different questions from your peers.

In the near future, search engines are likely to start populating content, based on the interests of your social contacts. This trend will favour small businesses as they can develop better relationships among their tight circles for specific business topics.

4. Personalisation of your Search Queries
With the push by major businesses to gather behavioural information about their users then this can only highlight their drive to deliver a far more personalised and therefore localised search experience. This will obviously side once again towards local business.

Digital assistants like Siri and Cortana are becoming the norm and users will deliver ever increasing behavioural information as their use becomes even more engrained in the general public’s psyche. This drive towards a far more personalised delivery of results will of course fall nicely into the lap of local businesses.

We are now all getting used to personalising our search results and therefore large search organisations will utilise our buying history and location in order to deliver these targeted results. Unless a searcher is specifically looking for a particular brand, then local or smaller businesses will be returned by default for your localised area.

5. Easier to Compete on a Level Playing Field
It is important to consider the point that although SEO has only ever got more complicated and more dominated by these massive organisations and their huge search budgets, in actual fact it is now simpler to gain an advantage and therefore a foothold.

Of course you must consider the usual technical components of an SEO campaign, code, content and links to deliver the exact profile that search engines want to see. However, things have now become more approachable.

By building your website towards targeting the user experience then as long as certain technical items are in place and you have understood that each page should aim at these terms that ultimately deliver a better user in a closer stage to the end of their buying cycle then you can top these larger organisations that for years have dominated search.

Search and Small Businesses
Don’t forget, no one can truly predict how the search world will develop and therefore who will or will not benefit from these developments. Everything above is purely conjecture but, this guess work does look seriously at how this business has materialised and indeed how smaller business can compete.

As for what impact this will have, well once again we cannot really tell. What is obvious is that smaller businesses can become far more specific within their niche. By delivering a user experience absolutely sided with their customers’ needs and targeted towards what Google considers as good practice then the future is rosy!

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