I sort of disappeared in 2011. It was a challenging year for me personally and professionally. While trying to center myself and my business for the New Year, I did a lot of research, attended quite a few webinars and teleconferences and visited a lot of other blogs. My objective was to get a better sense of where things are headed.
• What will our customers expect from us?
• What are their needs?
• Are there gaps in the information and services available that are not being met?
These are the types of questions you might consider when working on a business plan. My objective was to gain a big-picture, longer-range view given the economy, staggering competition and my own need for greater clarity. The results were interesting.
Mobility is only going to increase
Its not news that the use of smart phones, iPads and tablets like the Kindle Fire will continue to grow. The untold story is that these new portable devices will demand more and provide even greater challenges for anyone creating content for the web.
SEO Expert Sean Mitchell says that having a mobile optimized website is a new factor in the search engine rankings. Google considers mobile so important that it has added a mobile robot to scour the results users see when they access the web from a smart phone or iPad.
If viewers have to do a lot of scrolling around or zooming in to read your content, expect to take a hit in search rankings, Mitchell warns.
This means you will need a second website for mobile users – one that is optimized for smaller screens — that serves up just the right information for the person on the go. Contact information, maps, coupons or menus will play a leading role. Your mobile optimized website will probably include fewer, fast loading images because mobile surfers will be less likely to wait for slow pages to load.
Some mobile platforms use software to detect the surfer’s browser. If the software detects a safari or android browser, it automatically re-directs the surfer to the mobile site.
Content developers now need to consider:
• What goes on the main site vs. the mobile optimized website and what linking will occur between them?
• What marketing strategies will you use to drive prospects to your mobile site?
• What will happen to your main site as more people reach your web real estate from mobile devices?
• How will this affect your marketing budget and your tracking systems?
This is going to be fun!
Social media will continue to play a major role in lead generation
Traffic generation strategies will grow even more complex with the need to incorporate dozens of social media sites into your marketing plan. Smaller businesses are overtaxed now. But increasingly, you’ll need well planned Facebook fan pages, as well as an effective strategy for LinkedIn and Twitter. And almost everyday, I hear about a new social media site that you can no longer ignore.
Multimedia will play a bigger role in internet content
To engage site visitors and compete with larger companies, you’ll have to create videos, slide shows, info graphics, webinars, podcasts and who knows what else? This will put a lot of pressure on one or two-person businesses. You’ll either need deeper pockets to outsource some of these projects or joint venture partners to pick up the slack.
So what will all of these new content demands mean for small businesses, home businesses and solopreneurs? It’s going to get harder and harder to compete.
In such an environment, it may be critical to have a recognizable brand that is easily distinguished from your competition. Or you may need to specialize in a very narrow niche.
I don’t have a handle on all the resources that will help you succeed in this environment yet. But join our email list so you won’t miss future blog posts on this topic.
P.S. If you’re looking for a complete software package to create mobile optimized websites, take a look at Jason Fladlien’s WP Mobile Pro. It meets all of the criteria I mentioned earlier and is optimized for most smart phone browsers.