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Why Small Business Should Focus on Search Referrals

 
  Search via Mobile Device
Just two years ago the majority of people found your website because they already knew your business name or your name as the owner. But as the use and sophistication of mobile devices improved so did their ability and interest in finding the right business to meet their needs through search.

eMarketer published a study from the Adobe Digital Index of referral activity on the Adobe Marketing Cloud network from January to August 2015. It discovered that the volume of last touch search referral activity to websites surged from 24% in 2013 to 43% in North America today.  Direct referral activity declined from 51% to 31%.
 
Is this study in line with small business activity? I compared this data to the acquisition path of 10 businesses derived from Google Analytics in September. This group of businesses includes a wide range of endeavors and size from less than half a million to several million in revenue. While the data includes desktop, laptop and mobile activity, the trend is the same. Search is the number one referral path.

  SMALL BUSINESS REFERRALS  
BUSINESS  REFERRAL SEARCH DIRECTSOCIAL 
Attorney         6.4     63.8     23.9     5.9 
Chiropractor        5.4     51.0     32.7     4.1 
Custom Retailer         9.0     56.3     32.6     2.1 
Non-Profit        5.7     66.3     26.2     1.9 
Personal Trainer      17.0     63.9     17.2     1.9 
Pet Care       10.8     78.4     10.1     0.7
Printing        3.8     59.6     35.5     1.2 
Promotion      32.3     30.9     35.3     1.5 
Restoration      12.0     59.0     28.2     0.8 
Transportation        9.3     45.6      44.6     0.6 
AVERAGE

      9.2    58.2    31.4     1.3 
September 2015     
     
So what is the implication of this turnaround? Itís naÔve to think that your business visibility online doesnít matter. All of your business in the future isn't going to continue to come from face to face referrals. You search for things online. Your customers do too.

Hereís an interesting paradox. Small businesses say their biggest challenge is identifying and attracting new prospects. But according to an April 2015 study from Capital One, 39% of these businesses make no effort to market themselves through advertising of any kind, social media, email or search optimization.

The bottom line is your business needs to be searchable and easier to find online. In brief that means Ė 
  • Your site has to be adjustable to be read on any device. Donít be one of up to 33% of local businesses that arenít mobile friendly today.
  • Your business name, address and current phone number should be listed on search engine and other business directories. Delete old addresses and phone numbers.
  • Website content needs to be current not dated and focused on words and phrases people use to find your type of offerings.
  • Connect to the community through links from other trusted local websites back to yours.
  • Be proactive in reaching out to people through search advertising, email and social media. 
People who find your business through search take more time to view your website and sample more pages before leaving. This enhances the possibility that they will call you, sign up for something or make a purchase.

   
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