The Most Valuable Internet Trends in 2017 for your Small Business's Online Strategy

By Sarah Windover | | Tagged Marketing your online store, Marketing your website

Internet Trends 2017

 

Increasingly, digital consumers are relying upon their smartphones for easy and instant communication, research and entertainment. To better serve your existing clients, and to expand your reach, attracting new customers; your business web strategy needs to keep pace with this, and other swiftly evolving trends.

The web is always growing and changing to suit, and even to shape, the needs of consumers. Their tastes and online habits can change quickly. While some new directions may turn out to be fads; those trends which provide online users genuine and continuing value can permanently alter the way the internet is used. To help you reach your business goals, we offer you the following must-know and must-do responses to the most relevant web trends for your online presence this year.

Mobile-first Websites

Last year, the number of Google searches which took place on mobile devices surpassed the number of searches that took place from desktop computers. The share of mobile device online searches is 72 per cent in the Food and Beverage industry. Anticipating and watching the rapid and steady growth of smartphone use; Google has taken several steps over the past years to encourage more mobile-friendly websites (like May2015 and May 2016 insert citation). In response, many businesses have worked to create websites that were more mobile-friendly. As the shift continues exponentially, businesses must continue to adapt their websites from “mobile-friendly” to “mobile-first”. Instead of starting from a desktop website, modified to also perform well on a smartphone or tablet; the user experience, navigation, layout, and content have to be tailored specifically for mobile screens. Smartphone use is rising around the world.

Having a mobile-first website is the smart way for businesses to capitalize upon this future wave.

Mobile Shopping.

According to an emarkter.com report, “M-commerce is growing faster than either e-commerce or traditional retail and is transforming the way shoppers approach all three”. Gone are the days when online shopping was something you did only at home or at the office. In this digital-first world, consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to complete more and more types of tasks, including shopping, at all times of the day. According to the Pew Research Centre, an average of 70% of Canadians and Americans now own a smartphone. Apart from the growing number of smartphones, larger smartphone screens, efficient payment options and a rise in mobile-first websites are also contributing to the m-commerce trend. Businesses, including those with brick and mortar stores, can stay relevant by adopting a mobile-first strategy. Even if your customers finish the transaction in your physical store, chances are very high that their search began online, on the move.

Hyper Local Search.

According to Google, “nearly one third of all mobile searches are related to location, and that number is growing”. Given the growth in “near me” searches, it’s no wonder that Google is always refining their local search capabilities. Instead of local search including only cities or towns, it can now include smaller locales like neighbourhoods, streets or even city blocks. This gives small businesses ample opportunity to reach nearby customers.  Google reports that 76% of people who search on their mobile devices for something nearby visit the business within a day. Twenty-eight percent of these searches result in a purchase. As long as your business and website are fully optimized for location searches, your business can directly benefit from Google’s improved hyperlocal search algorithms.

Reviews for SEO

The trend of the degree to which quality reviews boost SEO shows no signs of slowing through 2017. Google loves reviews, both on their own platform and from reputable third party review sites like Yelp. And although Google never shares their exact secret equation for rating websites, moz.com surveyed top online marketers around the world to highlight the most important SEO factors for your business. Among the “Top 30 Difference-Making Factors in Competitive Markets”, three are review related: #7 is Quantity of Native Google Reviews (w/text) #25 is Quantity of Third-Party Traditional Reviews and #29 is Diversity of third-party sites on which reviews are present. In addition, moz.com also reported that Review Signals contribute over 8% to a website’s overall rank in search results.

Internet Trends 2017

This data from Yotpo also highlights the importance of reviews in a big way. They tracked the number of page views for 30,000 businesses that added reviews to their websites. Over a 9 month period, the average number of page views rose from 5500 to 8000 views per month. Wow!

Internet Trends 2017

If stories like these have convinced you that your business needs more reviews, head over here to learn more about why they matter and how to ask your loyal customers to write those all-important reviews.

The end of distinct mobile and desktop versions

The theme of many of these internet trends is the same; a smooth, seamless experience for mobile users. And something that can really hinder this desired seamlessness is having two website versions: one desktop and one mobile. Google currently uses the desktop version to index the information of a website. However, in many cases, there is less information on mobile versions to accommodate for the smaller screen size. This can leave mobile users at an informational disadvantage and will contribute to a poor user experience. Given the boom of mobile search and their dedication to user-experience, Google is discouraging two version websites. In an effort to continue providing users the best possible experience; late last year Google began the shift to index mobile versions instead of desktop versions. Google says it is currently in the experimental phase. But, there is likely an official announcement not far down the road. If your business website is one-version, mobile friendly it is already prepared for the change. If not, now is the time to bring your website up to 2017 standards.

Summing Up

The web has changed so much about the way we buy and sell, share information and keep in touch. It is still changing. The competition to put your information ahead of others in the marketplace is on par with the importance of the quality and value of your products and services. The latest steps in how we manage SEO and the mobile web are having profound effects on building and presenting websites. Businesses that strategically respond by keeping up with, and better yet, staying ahead of these curves will profit from retaining existing clients, keeping them satisfied, and reaching new audiences with crucial information and inviting them to enter through their mobile digital door.