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SMEs need to stay alert but not alarmed in 2013 says Ben Bradshaw, CEO of SponsoredLinX. Online is an ever-changing space and to stay competitive, small business needs to stay in touch.

2013 is heralding a lot of big changes in the online space says Ben Bradshaw, CEO and Founder of SponsoredLinX, a search engine marketing company. In order to remain competitive  small business needs to be aware of these changes and make changes or updates to their business as necessary.

The biggest change, says Bradshaw, is the proliferation of mobile search. “The big trend is obviously mobile is coming and being adopted a lot faster in regards to search. Initially it was 2015 that we were going to  see mobile overtake desktop as far as search was concerned, than Google released something and it was going to be 2014  then late last year we got the announcement it was going to be this year. So some time this year mobile is going to overtake desktop search.

“The big problem that Australia has at the moment is that 79 percent of people don’t have a mobile friendly website. So there’s a huge disparity between people who are looking for local services and products that are compatible on those devices. The big message is to make sure that your website is really mobile friendly and if it’s not it should be now.”

Fortunately, ensuring that your website is mobile friendly isn’t as difficult as it might sound. “It’s a lot less complicated than people think,” Bradshaw says. “A lot of people think that you need to build 12 different websites for each device which is not the case. We’d recommend building mobile responsive websites, so a site that caters for all devices. It would understand if the user is using an iPad and it will adjust the content to suit that device.”

Bradshaw says that, according to Google, those who are searching on a mobile device for local services are also more likely to take action on that search. “Over 90 percent of people take action when looking for a local service. So if you’re searching for a plumber or something local, 90 percent of people are going to take action, which is unheard of as far as marketing is concerned.”

Added to changes in search is Facebook’s announcement of its new search, Graph Search. This search engine, covered here, allows users to search among friends and friends of friends, meaning that users could potentially a business through its attachment to a friend or friend of a friend.  “Graph will be used by people typing in: Show me everybody who’s a friend who’s a plumber. That’s where  the topic is going to shift more towards relationship marketing and things like that. But that’s yet to be seen.”

In order to be discovered on search however, businesses need to be discoverable. “Heading into 2013 do a bit of housekeeping. Make sure you have a Facebook business page all set up and if you don’t know what you’re doing, there are companies out there that do manage social media quite well and it’s not expensive  We’ve created a product called Social Edge for small to medium businesses that don’t have the time or the knowledge to manage their social media accounts. The main thing is to get a bit more proactive on social media channels.”

Bradshaw adds that other social media services, such as the fast-growing Pinterest, are also worth having a presence on, to ensure that small businesses can be discovered no matter where their customers are.

The CEO also provided his top three tips for businesses looking to advance, begin or expand their online marketing in 2013:

  1. Get mobile, make sure you’ve got a mobile website that your site is, mobile responsive would  be perfect as it makes sure that your site responds to all devices.
  2. Get social. Start interacting, don’t look at it as social media, think of it more as an interactive database and with your current users, if search, and when facebook graph comes out, you’ll have a strategic advantage because you’ll already be engaged with your audience and that would be a good thing,
  3. and the next thing is don’t forget about search. Search engine marketing is where things are still happening and search is where people are still currently looking, so make sure you’ve got a good search engine marketing and strategy in place.