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How the Rise of the Local SEO Pack is Changing Digital Marketing

The local SEO pack, something that was once referred to as the local 7-pack and now the local 3-pack, is Google’s way of listing local businesses in search results. For a short time, Google listed 7 businesses for searches that implied the user was looking for a local result. Now, Google has trimmed this to just 3 listings and since the change, there have been advocates for and against the changes and lots of discussions about how these changes will influence local visibility and website traffic.

What has actually changed in the local SEO pack?

The actual changes in the local SEO pack are relatively straightforward. There is now only three businesses displayed, while there was once as many as seven. Prior to the changes, Google would sometimes display 3, 5, or 7, and there was no concrete answer as it differed depending on the search. Today, with just three listings being visible, there’s more competition than ever in local SEO.

Additionally, there are no business addresses or phone numbers displayed within the listings. There is only the name of the street where the business is located and in order to uncover more, the user will have to click on the listing. However, when they do so, this will also open up a page with a list of more than 20 competitors.

These changes ultimately affect all types of digital marketing. For instance, email marketing campaigns that reference local businesses and expect the searcher to easily be able to find that business through a Google search might have to rethink their approach. A business that was once ranked at the top of the local SEO pack might not be there today. Whether you’re using an email marketing agency or writing your emails yourself, the rise of the local SEO pack is changing the way we approach all types of digital marketing.

Digital marketing is starting to be centered around voice command

The rise of the local SEO pack is changing digital marketing but many are arguing it’s for the better. One of the changes is that it’s starting to be centered around voice commands. This is due to the rise of voice searches, which has become popularized by mobile devices.

Voice searches are when a user speaks a voice command, typically into a cell phone or tablet, and that voice search is automatically conducted by the device through the web browser. It’s one of the biggest trends of the modern age and how we optimize content for searchers who are using voice commands can differ.

This means that search engines and local businesses need to take natural speaking language into account what their site content and tags. How we say something out loud is different from how we would type it.

The rise of Chatbots

A chatbot is a relatively new thing but search engines like Microsoft Bing have already begun investing in this new trend. The way it works is that participating businesses will have a chat button next to their search engine listing. Should a user click on this button, a chat box will pop up where the user can begin asking questions to a chatbot.

At the moment, it’s used for basic questions such as whether a business accepts credit cards, if a reservation is available, and various other questions that can be answered through automated responses. This allows users to find answers faster than they would be able to if they had to read reviews, call, or email the company.

Proximity to the searcher

Another way that the local SEO pack is changing digital marketing is that proximity to the searcher is becoming a bigger factor in the local search algorithm. With GPS technology, devices can be tracked to an approximate location with better accuracy than ever before. These geo-targeted results allow search engines to estimate proximity with great accuracy and they have already begun utilizing this as a rank factor. In fact, in 2017, Moz found that a searcher’s proximity to a business is the number one ranking factor for the local SEO pack. This means that you can see different results based off your location within a city.

This feature alone can be great for businesses that are focused primarily on dragging foot traffic in their immediate area, but not so great for businesses that rely on attracting customers from a wider geographical area.

Conclusion

The rise of the local SEO pack is changing search engine optimization and digital marketing altogether. As local businesses compete to drive more customers and outrank their competitors in search engines, the ranking factors of local SEO become a bigger priority. The changes that Google, Bing, and other search engines are making to make local search engine results more effective have an impact across the array of digital marketing strategies.

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Will Driverless Delivery of Goods Arrive Before Delivery of Passengers?

When the nightly news tackles a topic like self-driving cars, almost invariably it is brought up as a battle between computers and Uber drivers. Perhaps this is a knee-jerk reaction, as taxi services are what the average person thinks of when they interact with a “professional driver” in their day to day life.

What is Being Tested

In reality the truth is that many more companies are starting to look into those more invisible aspects of the vehicle economy. Freight, especially, has come to the forefront of the discussion. And intellectually, the advantages are obvious. Automated freight doesn’t adhere to sleep schedules, it can be directed around the slowest traffic hours, generally overnight, to minimize risks. And in the event of accidents, the worst thing harmed in a 3 a.m. spillover will be boxes and not a passenger.

Automated big-rigs are already being tested. The moment they demonstrate an ability to earn profit, it would be strange to think every company that uses freight won’t be crunching numbers to see how much it would save them.

It is one of the challenges the “shop at home economy” brings. With online sales only ever going up, the more traditional brick and mortar stores have already had to meet the challenge. Only last month Wal-Mart consolidated its furniture department to be more online shopping friendly.

Addressing the Problems

There is definitely a problem of service to address when we leave the realm of big-rigs and approach the final leg of the delivery: from the final office to the home. Amazon bypasses this by hiring out UPS and the USPS to handle small packages. But what of the big items? How would Wal-Mart deliver a bedroom set, hypothetically, with a robot driver under its new website? Well the proposals are varied, but tend to look like this: The customer sets a preset time window of availability, and when the delivery car is ready, a text is sent to the customer who can then take their items from the vehicle. This will require some specialized framework, of course, a system in place with lockers and passcodes to make sure only the correct items can be withdrawn at a time.

It feels strange, but that system is not all too far away. After all, if your vehicle only needs to fit on the road, it won’t require the bulk of seats or trunk space as we tend to think of them now. And there are companies across the world designing vehicles specifically to be self driven for this reason.

The Concern of Safety

All of these discussions, of course, hinge on one issue; the issue of safety. Many argue that driverless cars will create even safer roads. In the longer this could also lower costs for business owners in the long run such as having the options of having cheap auto insurance quotes and new technologies that are focused on reducing costs and creating more seamless processes.

One of the goals of self-driving vehicles, however, isn’t to be 100% safe. The goal is simply to be safer than humans. And by all accounts, they are. They have been for years. If a robot driver were to have a chance of accident at 0.5% in the next five years, versus a human at 1.5%? Maybe even higher than that? If we set the driving record of a robot against that of a person, and the robot turned up safer, less of a risk? These are almost foregone conclusions of the next few years.

With these innovations, there are even some predictions that start ups may want to invest in distribution. Having a company vehicle may be as crucial to starting your own business as a website in years to come. The self-driving cars are coming, and they’re closer than you probably believed.

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Impact of Cyber Security Threats on Small Businesses

There was a drastic rise in the volume and creativity of hacks with large enterprises such as Tesco Bank, Yahoo, and LinkedIn hitting the headlines as victims of cyber attacks. However, small businesses were not immune to these cyber attacks as well. While the likelihood of some types of cyber attacks is slim, the chances of a small enterprise recovering from an attack are much lower as opposed to large enterprises.

Security breaches can have unique impact on each company. Much depends on the industry in which an enterprise operates and the duration of the attack. For example, a data breach may have more dire consequences for the banking sector than the manufacturing industry. Here are the impacts of a security breach on small business.

Financial Losses

Cybercrime can have pronounced financial impact on small businesses than large enterprises. The economic impact of a breach on large enterprises can result in loss of millions. However, the monetary implications of a security breach on a large corporation are a blip on the radar due to their scale. It can cost a small business approximately $38,000 to recover from a single cyber attack. A single security breach could put you out of business.

Operational Disruption

Besides economic costs of a security breach, there are several intangible costs that a business can accrue after the occurrence of an attack. Businesses that rarely have resilience and continuity strategies often tend to underestimate the impact of operational disruption. An enterprise that already struggles to sustain itself may experience hardship in re-paying its debts. It is essential that smaller firms are protected with sufficient small business insurance to keep afloat in the event of an breach.

Fines

Financial losses may not be enough punishment. In fact, there is the likelihood of fines for enterprises that fail to adhere to the data protection legislation. Global authorities are considering strict adherence to data protection legislation. The European Parliament has proposed one of the most draconian measures for a privacy breach that will become effective from May 2018. Small enterprises will have to pay a fine of 20 million Euros for a privacy breach. That will threaten many budding enterprises with insolvency.

Data protection laws require businesses to secure all its confidential data. You may face regulatory sanctions if this data gets comprised either deliberately or accidentally. Therefore, it is crucial for every entrepreneur to deploy appropriate security measures to mitigate cyber attacks.

Theft

While a large financial institution may mitigate a cyber raid, defenses of budding enterprises are less sophisticated and easier to penetrate. As a result, small businesses have become a softer target for cyber attackers. While cyber attacks can result in monetary losses, stolen data can be a blow to a company, especially if the attacker shares your login credentials with the neighbors. For example, the value of stolen online auction accounts and login credentials in 2015 was approximately $1,400. The impact of data theft can be equally damaging. In fact, companies can lose their competitive advantage, years of effort, and copyrighted material.

Damaged Reputation

One of the most harmful impacts of a security breach can be the loss of stakeholder and customer trust. Many people are not willing to transact with a company that has been raided by hackers, especially if it failed to protect confidential customer data. That can result in devaluation of the brand that you took years to build. It could also translate into a loss of business. Damaged reputation may also make it hard for an enterprise to attract suppliers, investors, and top talent.

Cyber raids can be devastating even to the most resilient businesses. As such, it is critical for companies to mitigate potential security breaches accordingly. You can deploy security incident plan after an attack to manage the risks. It can help you clean up the compromised systems and reduce the impact of the attack. An incident response plan also helps restore your business in the shortest time possible. You can also mitigate the risks by investing in ongoing user training and awareness in your organization.

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How to Better Manage Your Small Business

When you are faced daily with a list of minor and major tasks to complete, it’s hard to find enough the hours in the day to get through it all. Don’t let the terrifying lists discourage your growth. What you need to do is step back and analyze your day to day activities and build a growth strategy. Start separating your daily tasks into these three categories.