2015 business predictions

2015 Business Predictions – Or Not?

It is that time of the year – the beginning – where people make their predictions about where business and technology are headed for the coming year. Predictions, much like stocks, are a “best guess” scenario since there are so many variables that can cause the tide to change. But there are some likely candidates out the group of prognosticators that have a better chance of becoming reality than others.

One of these is that search engine optimization (SEO) will become more challenging.

Some say SEO will become harder, but I am not sure that is the best word to use here. Depending on what your goals are for SEO, the primary one being increasing your page rank, you may not have as many problems or requirements as other companies or industries. Promoters of SEO make it an essential tool for business survival but for a small business trying to make Page One under the keyphrase “laptop computer.”

Here are the top 10 results out of more than 13 million returned:

(Ad) Dell
(Ad) Walmart

Office Depot
PC Magazine
Radio Shack

Radio Shack???? Let’s be honest, if your business is not able to bump Radio Shack out of the Page One ranking, it is time to seriously consider the actual value of SEO for your business. Remember, SEO costs money, and the ROI is crucial to its success.

So for some businesses, SEO will require a great deal of effort and resources to move up from a Page Two ranking. If there is any element of SEO that will be hard regardless of your company’s page rank it is unearthing the right keywords and keyphrases that your target audience will use to locate your product or service.

Any time you mention SEO you are subliminally communicating “Google.” (It’s a great way to legally advertise by using subliminal techniques. But we all know there is no credible research that supports the effects of subliminal advertising, right?) Google will continue to tighten the noose on web sites that are more prone to use keywords and keyphrases to drive organic search results than to provide quality content to the visitor.

If you are thinking that Google somehow has the consumer’s best interest at heart, you are probably naïve. With Google, there is always a market share or money motivation behind the outer crust. Google makes its money through advertising, and allowing only the companies that have the big advertising dollars to spend to reach the top spots. The big advertising dollars will come from the company’s marketing budget, which only big companies have, which in turn will be spent on acquiring or creating the best SEO techniques. For those in Page Three Land and beyond, SEO loses its significance proportional to the distance from Page One.

How many people know how to navigate through 1 million search results and get to page 23,725 of the result? Since the answer is probably less than 1 percent of all Google search engine users, the problem not making the first 10 pages is obvious. By the way, the top ranked site of a web page will generate about one-third of all the clicks.

Abandoning SEO is not the answer. You just have to find your niche that will get you your Page One ranking.

Closely connected to SEO and web site content is web site design. This leads us to the second possibility of the prognosticators being right – the necessity of enriching the user experience.

The expansion of mobile technology can take a lot of credit for this, because for most users, mobile means simple. Get me the information I need fast, and let me do what I need to do and move on. This is directly tied into the size of the mobile device screens, where small and portable meet design and functionality. Whether a tablet or a smartphone, the user experience will have to be improved if mobile devices will continue to rule the consumer computing market.

It is about time. Companies have made billions from consumers who love their mobile devices. Users have had to plod through multiple screens and perhaps worst of all, deal with companies whose idea of a mobile strategy is to take their website design and make it smaller. In 2015, companies who continue to pursue this business strategy should be put on a web site and be publicly shamed. An interactive site where visitors could hurl assorted fruits and vegetables at the archaic company’s web site.

There is a positive business angle to focusing on the user experience. The better the experience for the user, the greater likelihood there is for a conversion. Remember, the idea is not just to get the consumer to your site, it is for them to respond to a call-to-action. This means that the quality of the content of your web site as a whole, combined with a well-thought out marketing and SEO strategy, topped off with a memorable and shareable user experience are the keys to increasing sales – particularly in the mobile market.

Those who have a familiarity with the PC market of the 80’s, the historical trend was that software would lag behind the hardware advances in technology somewhere between 5 and 10 years. That seems like a long time when considering how fast the Internet and mobile technology have come is the last 10 years. But when comparing the two game changers, there are a lot of similarities.

Besides the apps lagging behind the hardware, the pricing is comparable. Once the PC caught on in the business and consumer markets, hardware prices dropped and the price of apps began to stabilize. After a decade, a developer application that once went for $500 plummeted to $100. The user experience was better and oddly corresponded to a drop in the price of the products. Today, Microsoft offers its Office 365 Suite for free for a one year time period. Not much has changed in 30 years.
These two omens of change – SEO and the user experience – are closely connected. An improved SEO process will result in a better user experience. The demand for a better user experience will force changes in SEO either from Google or the companies themselves. The New Year brings with it the possibility of consumers getting some return on their investment for being loyal and patient with their favorite online companies.

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