Internet marketing tips for your small business.

Internet Marketing Predictions for 2012 (and Why You Should Care)

I’ll be the first one to admit, I am chicken to make any predictions. I hate to be wrong. Thankfully, I keep up with industry leaders who are not afraid to walk out on a ledge and tell the world what they really think is in store for 2012.

So here I share some of their Internet marketing predictions for 2012, along with my thoughts of what they mean to you, the small business owner (because after all, that’s really what you should care about.)

Google+ will continue to grow but…

Still haven’t tried Google+? You’re not alone. Many experts, like Susan Payton in a post on Small Business Trends  say it’s picking up momentum but is not even close to matching Facebook in terms of users.

What this means to you: Now that brands can have their own account, it’s really not something you can afford to ignore just yet. If you already have your bases covered on Facebook and Twitter and have built up followings, devote  time to Google+. (See its connection to SEO trends below.) But if you are new to social media, you are probably better off sticking with Facebook or Twitter for now (unless you know for sure your target audience is a Google+ audience – then focus your time there.)

Google appeared to make a much more public push for Google+ then it ever seemed to do for Google Buzz or Google Wave  (which while not exactly like Google+ were aimed at sharing content.) Both Google Buzz and Google Wave will be no more in 2012. So even Google can get it very very wrong. That is why you should be cautious before jumping wholesale onto the bandwagon.

However, Google is the reigning king of search engines and it is expected that Google+ will have impact on search rankings. So if you do nothing else with Google+, do add the Google+ button to your sites and blog posts. Doing this encourages your visitors to “plus one” something even if you aren’t active on the network.

Understanding “social search” and seeking to connect with influencers will gain in importance

Accoriding to Sam Fiorella in his post “Trend Currents: Social Media in 2012“, Social Search will make “Influencer Outreach” the No. 1 activity for brand marketers.

…search engines will push relevant content from our personal engagements, not our Web sites to the top of search results. ….the impact of Social Search will dramatically change the focus of marketing. It’s no longer about relevant content but identifying and influencing people that can help you to “ENGAGE” your target customers in social engagements.

While consistent sharing of content will get you more followers (see research by Dan Zarrella of Hubspot), Sam’s point dovetails with the idea that not all followers are equal. Some are more equal than others and you should find those that share, those that share a lot. Google and Bing are paying attention to the “sharegraph”, if you will, of content. So focus on sharing yes, but also focus on finding influencers to notice you.

Buzzword of 2012:  SoLoMo for “Social, Local, Mobile”

According to an article by Outspoken Media’s Lisa Barone, “The year 2011 saw a 400 percent increase in the number of mobile searches, with 74 percent of people using their mobile phones to search while running errands.”

What this means to you: All the experts say mobile is hot, this is the year of mobile, etc.. Okay, I think we’ve heard this one before, but this year, if you’re a business that depends on local customers, it’s time to take the prediction seriously. This can mean making sure you have a mobile app (especially if you are restaurant, nightclub or other entertainment venue), making sure you enable the mobile listing in your Bing Local account, and use check-in deals to encourage people to share where they are with their social networks.

And while you are getting your mobile on, you should be making sure your local listings are in order. Here at Juicy, we’ve seen clients make great strides in their business, simply by paying attention to their visibility on local listings. Ranking for local searches is only going to get more difficult, so jump on this now. It’s the easiest of all tactics to get started with in Internet Marketing.

So where does the social come in? The listings are one thing, but getting people to talk about you is something else. Reviews are one of the single biggest factors people use when making a buying decision. (Barone cites a Nielsen study that shows “that 63% of social media users list ‘consumer ratings’ as their preferred source for getting information about a business, product or service.”) Reviews are also a ranking factor for Google Places. Get customers to give you reviews.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) predictions

We all have our gurus and mine for SEO is Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz. I share with you 3 of his 8 Predictions for SEO in 2012:

Prediction 1:  SEO without social media will become a relic of the past

Prediction 2: Google will make it very hard to do great SEO without using Google+

SEO will rely even more heavily on social media signals. The integration of Facebook results in BING and (at one time Twitter in Google) was only the beginning. Google, with it’s 80% plus share of search traffic in the US, has made it clear that it will not only show you your own social network results in the total list of organic results, but will use the social cache of an item in its ranking algorithm. Many in the biz think this is Google’s way of pushing Google+.

What this means to you: If you are depending on search to deliver the goods in your internet marketing plan, you need to ramp up the social and get started with Google+, especially if you are in a market that is already highly active in social media – think restaurants, specialty/boutique stores, salons, gyms, etc. But as we mentioned above, don’t do this at the expense of Facebook and Twitter.

Prediction 3: Google Will Finally Take Stronger Action Against Manipulative Link Spam

Over 2011, a lot of sites lost rankings in Google because of what is known as “Panda updates” which are in simple terms changes to Google’s algorithms. The main target of these updates: sites that engage in link spam or low quality, junk links.

What this means to you: If someone comes a knockin’ saying they can get you to rank #1 for a highly competitive keyword in a few months, run. If someone says they can guarantee you 100 links to your site in a few days, run. Link building the right way, that is getting quality, relevant links is hard work. Relevant links from quality sites to your site is what you need, not links from pornography sites or “blogs” that are nothing more than spun articles in bad English. This has always been true. Now it’s just more true.

Okay here’s a few of my own (and even if they don’t come true, they are still good advice.)

Prediction #1: Small businesses and start-ups that talk to customers like they are people and not just the means to a “bottom line end,” will win customers over those businesses that stick to the old-school corporate-speak way of communication. If you are using words like “leverage,” “value proposition,” “world-class,” or “exceed expectations”—stop. If you have mission statements and a list of corporate values on your website, delete those pages. Seriously. With our new social media-ized culture, people feel a little more personal with the business they choose to work with. Be that personal business.

Prediction #2: Small businesses will get more used to using social media as a way to enhance, not replace regular networking. How many people do you network with on a regular basis that you are not LinkedIn to or following on Twitter? Small businesses need each other for referrals. That’s why you network. Why not extend that networking online? Why not form a small group of online network buddies where you are particularly attuned to sharing each others’ content? See where I’m going with this? (You can read more on this subject in Supercharge Your Business Development.)

Okay, now go out there and make 2012 a great year for your business!

Lisa Hutt
Written By Lisa Hutt
Lisa is the Content & Marketing Strategist at Juicy Results and can usually be found writing the blog posts that no one wanted to write because they're intense, need thorough research and can't be explained to common humans without her help. She breaks down SEO, analytics and marketing campaigns to help you stay fresh, relevant and sane.

January 23 2012 in Blog, Internet Marketing Terms, Strategic Advice

One Response to Internet Marketing Predictions for 2012 (and Why You Should Care)

  1. Jeremy Pound

    January 24, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Great article. I think we’ve picked some safe bets here because I am already seeing the majority of these trends taking shape.

    I love how much research you put into this one!

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