It hasn’t ever been harder to keep up with the latest web trends – with the expansion onto mobile platforms, the growth of social media and the need for start ups to be aware of new SEO techniques.
As a result, we’ve assembled a team of web experts to help you and your business keep on top of the most important trends on the web. Constructing a mobile website, creating social media campaigns and selling online are just some of the challenges businesses will face during 2010.
Here are top online trends for the next 12 months.
Every web-savvy business knows smartphone use is on the rise. But few are actively developing for mobiles by creating websites specifically used for handheld devices.
As more and more mobile users flock to gadgets with larger touchscreens and internet browsers, such as the iPhone or Google Nexus One, the mobile space will become bigger and SMEs need to get on board. If your website isn’t accessible through a smartphone or app, users will give up and go somewhere else – losing you traffic and potential sales.
Ovum analyst Nathan Burley says the number of people taking up smartphones instead of traditional handsets will require businesses to develop mobile websites.
“In our view there are two big trends that will occur in 2010. That is mobile broadband and the adoption of smartphones, and the impact of those two things on the industry. This is changing the way people access the internet, and that is in mobile.”
“The big change is that these smartphones are allowing people to use tools in the same way a laptop did in the past, which is opening more users to the internet on the go.”
Chris Thomas, chief executive of SEO firm Reseo, says 2010 will be “the year of the mobile”.
“I think mobile search is definitely here. Google is throwing a lot of money at mobile, and it’s going to be really interesting to see how businesses leverage that.”
Search Engine Optimization
Using search engine algorithms in order to get your site on “page one” has been a tactic used by online businesses for years. But SEO experts say the process of getting a website known will become even harder in 2010 with the rise of personalised and real-time search.
Social network Twitter sparked a trend when it designed the first popular real-time search engine. When users search for a term, the site would update that search with new “tweets” as they were being made.
Google has recently introduced a real-time search function of its own, complete with indexed tweets, while Microsoft Bing has made a deal to show tweets in search results. But Thomas says while 2010 will see a rise in real-time search traffic, businesses shouldn’t be too keen to pursue a dedicated real-time search strategy.
“I think people are still trying to figure out what to do with it. Perhaps if there’s a trending topic, such as Copenhagen or climate change, that’s where we could see real-time do some work because there’s an opportunÃty for someone selling solar panels to come in, using a message like “stop climate change” via solar panels or something. There is some real potential there.”
“This is where it could go, but it’s such an active industry, with optimisation and SEO changing. But I always say to our clients, stick to your knitting and don’t do anything silly.”
Jim Stewart, chief executive of Stewart Media, says real-time search will continue to grow, but businesses need to be aware of the more subtle changes Google is making to its search algorithms.
“All of the normal SEO things still apply, even though Google is going forward with things like personalised search. That will surely play a part, but you still have to get on the front page at all before you get into someone’s personal search results.”
Stewart warns Google will be updating its speed-check feature, through which the engine checks how fast it takes for a user to connect to a website. If a business has any downtime, it could affect search rankings.
But Stewart also says Google could potentially lose its place as the top search engine, as users could migrate to other offerings or be wary of the company’s search power.
“I don’t believe the search engine is providing as relevant results as it did this time last year. I’m sure they know it, but it doesn’t seem to be working as well. I’d also love to think that people will begin to start using Bing more and more, but it has to become a better search engine before that happens.”
“The other thing is privacy. A lot of people already are pretty wary of Google and privacy issues, even to the point where Eric Schmidt said if you’re doing something on the web you don’t want people to know, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.”
Facebook and Twitter were the standout social networks from 2009, and their popularity will surge in 2010 with both introducing new features, including paid accounts for business.
But businesses need to pay attention to the trends on these sites. Creating a social media strategy is no longer optional, it is vital to the health of a company and its ability to tap into an online user-base.
Some experts say if you aren’t engaging online, you’re missing out on a huge opportunÃty to gain new customers and fans who will effectively market for you if given enough reason.
Thomas says 2010 will be the year in which businesses must jump on social media or risk being left behind by the competition.
“If you don’t have a Facebook fan page you should get in, and if you’re in a community-minded space, where you can offer things like competitions and such, then you’re set.”
James Griffin, founder and chief executive of online reputation management company SR7, says this year will see the rise of analysts who will begin to convince businesses to study, track and move operations into social media.
“Analysts will be versed in understanding and using social media, the quantitative and qualitative reports will empower businesses to implement researched social media strategies and gather market intelligence.”
More and more Australian businesses are selling online, but compared to the US we have a lot of catching up to do. Online spending has grown from 1% to 3% of overall spending over the last 10 years, compared to the American equivalent of 7%.
About The Author
Article written by Patrick Stafford – SmartCompany.com.au