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The SMA defines small businesses as small organizations with “less than 500 employees.” As you can see, the term actually encompasses a wide variety of business models and types. Mom-and-pop shops, freelancers and ecommerce businesses all fall into this category.

However, a vast majority of small businesses in the US are either sole proprietorships or partnerships. These businesses were actually responsible for creating more than 1.4 million new jobs in the country, back in 2014. It’s safe to say, small companies are important to the US economy.

How search engines help small businesses

Ok, if you don’t know what SEO is – you can read this Entrepreneur article to get familiar with the basics. Assuming that you’re already familiar with it, you probably know that SEO is essential to the success of your business. In fact, SEO is so important that, as Media Post reports, businesses have spent around $65 billion on SEO services globally.

The SEO industry has been growing for quite some time. At this point, SEO has become an essential part of any serious digital marketing strategy. The fact people are investing so much money in it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

And if you think that SEO only works for online businesses, you couldn’t be more wrong. Today’s consumers regularly use their smartphones to look up local business information to guide their shopping habits. Naturally, if you want to maximize your future SEO efforts, you have to stay on top of trends. Let’s see how some future search trends will impact small businesses.

Search engine trends and their impact

  • User experience will start playing a major role

Google is basically obsessed with user experience and so should you be. Search results are becoming more and more personalized and customized. If your content is not engaging users, you won’t score a top five position in Google search, no matter how good the content is.

This means you have to learn how to track your marketing efforts, or at least hire an agency that will be able to do the job for you. Today, only around 30% of small businesses know how to properly use web analytics, track calls or use coupon codes. If you want to keep your customers satisfied, you definitely need to take user experience seriously.

  • The rise of voice search and artificial intelligence

Google announced the launch of RankBrain more than a year ago, and we still don’t have too much information on it. We know that it’s listed among the top three search ranking factors and that in essence, it’s an AI that’s used to process Google’s search results. Even though we’re still not sure how the algorithm operates, one thing is certain – it will change the way people search.

With recent IoT developments, there’s also a potential for AI to enter our homes. Smart devices are becoming more and more affordable, and using AI, voice search to look for information may soon become an everyday occurrence. Paying attention to future AI developments will help you create new strategies, attract new consumers and turn them into loyal customers.

  • Mobile is going to become even more important

Due to a lack of funding, most small business owners opt to do everything themselves. These people know that SEO requires a ton of work and even more patience. In addition to optimizing their site, reaching out to bloggers and finding a reliable link prospecting tool, you now have to optimize your site for mobile if you want to keep your visitors.

We now live in a mobile-first world, so naturally, Google isn’t planning on sitting around and waiting. According to a recent Hitwise report, almost 60% of overall search queries comes from mobile devices. And Google doesn’t want something that will just look nice on an iPhone screen either. Although mobile loading speed still isn’t a ranking factor, it will still impact your site’s performance.

The bottom line

One thing is certain, the fast pace of technological advancement will continue to impact the world of SMBs. As Forbes reports, analysts predict that by the end of the decade, almost 50% of the workforce will be freelancers.

Some of you may feel that some technologies, like AI for example may be still out of reach for SMBs, but even that’s rapidly changing. According to a recent IDC whitepaper, future investments in AI will allow even the smallest businesses to start leveraging the technology in five to ten years.

Most people opt for freelancing because of their desire to have complete control of their employment. If you’re one of these people, you have to know what the current business landscape looks like, if you want to have long-term success in your field.

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  1. Emily Amhearst

    Great post! I think the future of machine learning and even just generalized AI (if that’s even a thing…) will be an exciting adventure for the entire world! We are finally on the cusp of being able to ask questions that we ourselves are unable to answer, and get a response!

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