By Alex Holden, ELC Presenter
It’s no surprise that things change suddenly and often immediately in the online world, and staying on top of it all can prove to be quite challenging. But out of all that noise we encounter online, which articles do we need to listen to, and which ones will glean the information we need to know to stay ahead?
Google just pushed out a significant update on how they rank search results done on mobile devices, which included pushing mobile responsive sites higher and sites that are not mobile responsive lower. However, most businesses don’t have a mobile responsive website. While most developers have presumably made your website mobile responsive already, it’s still important to be aware of everything that can and will affect you as you move into a mobile market. The faster we are able to learn about and adopt these new strategies, the better we can integrate in the future as a business. Below are some tips on moving forward and staying ahead.
First off, we can be proactive if we know what we need to accomplish. The first and easiest way is to be where our customers are. Considering most are attached at the hip to their phones, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we should have our business easily found online. But what many don’t factor in is making sure that translates to our mobile market as well. While we don’t need to be on every app, every social media platform, or every business listing out there, we do need to be strategic with the ones that we are on. In fact, out of the all the businesses I’ve met and worked with, one common theme that resonated as they were just starting to grow was that they couldn’t maintain all the listings that they had. So why try? Instead use the tools that exist already to find your customer base and focus on the channels they are on, and not every channel that exists. Ever stumble across a business listing that hadn’t been updated with the correct phone number, hours, or even address? Did you still visit that business? Studies say consumers nowadays will not frequent a business that does not maintain their online presence.
Now, as your business starts to evolve from just an online market and into a mobile market, I remind companies to form a habit they and their staff should get into, which is the “Always Be Testing” idea or A.B.T. This simply means always be testing all your customer facing processes across all platforms and mobile devices. This includes checking contact forms, request forms, subpages and more. It is especially important if you manage your own website or don’t have a developer that automatically updates your website. Testing also includes claiming your free listing and checking all your listings on geo-based apps like maps, yellow pages, Yelp, anywhere your customers might find you. And also testing contact information, visibility, contrast of colors, things that need to be working. In fact, when it comes to testing everything, many businesses are often surprised to find someone has already made a listing for them with information that is not correct. An easy way to see if information already exists on your business, is to Google your company name along with that specific platform.
As a business, if you have good content, get it online in the form of a blog, whitepaper, or even a pdf. Just make sure it works on all mobile devices. One challenge businesses have run into is using programs that don’t have cross-functional support. For example, an iPhone user trying to open a Microsoft Word document without the proper app to convert it. So remember, always be testing.
And lastly, with all the constant changes that occur we don’t have time to research every little thing we would like to, especially being a business in a niche industry, yet you must stay on top of all the changes that could potentially come your way. So becoming savvy and using all your available resources is a must. Every day I read countless news articles, stories and posts that have been curated and sent to me based off of topics I selected a while back. These are some of my favorites and I recommend them for your business as well if you are not using them already. The one I’ve used for the longest and the most common is Google Alerts. It’s free, and every day I get an email in my inbox with articles specific to keywords I have created. And also some of my other favorites are Feedly, Pipes, and Ted talks. While there are tons of tools out there, more isn’t necessarily better, so if you’re new to these try one out for a couple months and then expand from there.
If you would like to learn more about strategies to bring your business into a bustling mobile market, then I’ll see you at the Emerging Leaders Conference in July. In the meantime a great piece of advice I learned years ago, was you can only learn what you don’t know, and if you know everything then you’ve stopped learning. So if you haven’t already find someone in a similar business situation as yourself, and start a business-to-business relationship, collectively sharing your knowledge and past experiences. You never know, something that might help your business, or allow you to see a situation from a different angle may arise. Conversely, you may help another business out and create a new business partnership.