3 Biggest Ways The Internet Changed Small Businesses Forever

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For people born after 1985, the Web has been around for most of their lives, and as adults they’ve never lived any other way. But for small business owners who’ve been around before the dawn of the digital age, you can probably remember a simpler time before the World Wide Web.

Whether things have gotten better or worse is irrelevant. The internet has effectively taken over our lives in 2015, and small businesses ignore the Web at their peril. So what are the biggest changes to the way businesses operate in the 21st century because of the internet?

1. No More Phone Books

Here’s a depressing exercise, try and explain the concept of a phone book to a little kid. They’ll probably look at you like you’re describing the cotton gin. And if you really want to feel old, tell a teenager you remember when cell phones used to have antennas sticking out the end. Even though that was true just five or six years ago, Cool Teens will act like its ancient technology.

Now, 58% of consumers look up products and services online before trying them IRL, and so anyone who hires an SEO company will have an edge against their competitors.. People are also looking up businesses, restaurants, and everything else you can think of while on the go. Page views and visits to online directories like Yelp and other resources from mobile devices quadrupled in 2012, and experts say local mobile advertising will jump from $800 million to $18 billion by next year.

2. New Competition

In the 1990s, many small towns across America panicked over the spread of Wal-Mart and the end of Main Street America. Of course, many mom-and-pop small businesses survived, but many did not. This decade, it’s sites like Amazon causing small businesses performance anxiety. The Web has brought a ton of virtual retailers and new competitors to the market. Even worse for small businesses, online stores like Amazon don’t pay sales tax, which means they can often offer lower prices than brick and mortar shops.

3. Search Engine Optimization Strategies Are Now Non-Optional

For brick and mortar shops trying to compete with both Wal-Mart and Amazon, it’s crucial to have local SEO strategies that keep you competitive. Because most consumers rely on Google to find products and businesses, any company that doesn’t rank well on search engines will be completely invisible to their own customers. Outsourcing SEO for small businesses is an increasingly popular option, while others hire an SEO company to do work as needed from time to time.

You can bet Amazon and Wal-Mart have hundreds of employees and local SEO experts at their disposal. Hiring an SEO company to improve your search rankings is often a necessary part of small business’ overhead in 2015.

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