2017 Search Insights Reported by Steven C. Wyer

Steven C. Wyer of Nashville’s Third Coast Interactive, Inc. lists the most important search insights local search marketers should keep in mind when planning for the coming year.

  1. There is value in simplicity

According to Steven C. Wyer, most small to medium-sized businesses don’t have an effective understanding of technology and media marketing. However, in order to remain relevant in today’s ever-connected society, they must maintain an online presence. Steven C. Wyer contends that even a simple strategy, such as maintaining a Facebook page, Twitter feed, or weekly blog, offers more value than implementing more complex search engine strategies incorrectly.

  1. Upload speeds are slowing, to the chagrin of searchers

In 2013, the average retail mobile site loaded at a median speed of 4.33 seconds. By 2015, load speeds had lagged to 5.5 seconds. Steven C. Wyer reports this is due to widespread consumer demand for visual content such as videos and graphics. Slower speeds, unfortunately, have a damaging effect on a site’s conversion rate and page views, even when the content would enhance user experience. Local businesses, especially, should monitor how website updates impact site speed, says Steven C. Wyer.

  1. The traditional search model is changing

Voice recognition software has improved by leaps and bounds over the last five years, says Steven C. Wyer. This has led to an exponentially larger number of voice searches, which tend to seek different keywords than traditional search bar queries. Steven C. Wyer expects this trend to continue through 2017.

  1. Businesses are losing out by not claiming third-party listings

More than half of all small businesses – 56% – have failed to claim their free Google My Business listing. The percentages are even higher for Yelp, YP.com Bing, and listings through the Better Business Bureau. Steven C. Wyer asserts that these listings are vital as they have become de facto homepages, at least in the eyes of most consumers.

  1. Traditional media remains valuable

Though we live in a digital world, print media – newsletters, postcards, etc. — is still highly sought after and trusted by consumers, says Steven C. Wyer. Returning customers are likely to appreciate a more personal means of communication. Since it can cost up to 10 times more to attract new buyers, this is a group small businesses need to pay careful attention to, Steven C. Wyer affirms.

  1. Nonlocal search customers are big business

Steven C. Wyer admits that it is easy to overlook the “out-of-towners” when planning a local marketing strategy. This can be a detrimental mistake as many local storefronts receive in excess of 25% of all business from tourists’ dollars.

  1. Consumer attention spans are getting shorter every year

Shoppers expect instant satisfaction, says Steven C. Wyer, and when they don’t get it, they look elsewhere. It is increasingly important that small businesses understand their customers’ behaviors and take measures to be as accessible as possible 100% of the time.

  1. Reviews can make or break a business

Steven C. Wyer claims that online reviews are now the quickest way for a consumer to get feedback regarding a company or service. Nine out of 10 consumers report using reviews – whether positive or negative – to influence their purchasing decisions. Some studies suggest that nearly 70% of consumers will leave a review when respectfully prompted to do so – others put this number closer to 90%. And yet, Steven C. Wyer relays that less than 10% of businesses are asking.

As the founder of Third Coast Interactive, Inc., Steven C. Wyer is one of the nation’s leading experts in online marketing, online reputation management, directory solutions, and online review distribution. For more information or to schedule a consultation visit 3Ci.agency.

Steven C. Wyer Explains Review and Directory Sites

Q: What is an online review site?

Steven C. Wyer: This is a website that allows consumers to weigh in on service providers, companies, or individuals. Review sites often utilize a visual star rating model coupled with text and/or photos and video.

Q: What type of content do review sites contain?

Steven C. Wyer: Websites like Yelp, Foursquare, and Google Reviews provide consumers with basic listing information such as location and a detailed description of the business. Additionally, they serve as a town hall of sorts where current and previous customers can give their opinions and share their experiences with a particular business.

Q: Are there review site specific to certain industries, such as health care?

Steven C. Wyer: There are, actually. Many industries have websites dedicated to helping consumers pick the best provider for their needs. Specifically for physicians, RateMDs.com and Healthgrades.com give patients the opportunity to comment on a physician’s office wait time, his or her bedside manner, and even report on actual treatment experiences.

Q: How are review sites different from directory lists?

Steven C. Wyer: A directory is essentially a searchable pool of data that list service providers in a particular category. They may offer information on a company’s telephone number, website, social media pages, and hours. However, directories are not designed to rate a business based on customer experiences. There are some hybrid sites that offer business listings with a review element. YP.com is one example.

Q: Do these sites require the business to actually participate?

Steven C. Wyer: Not necessarily. But, if the option exists, it is always best for a business owner to claim the listing. Many directory and review sites get their business information from public records, which may be outdated or even inaccurate. Typically, once a listing is verified, the business owner is given the opportunity to update the listing with current information.

Steven C. Wyer

Steven C. Wyer has lived with the shadow side of the Internet ever since his business, his family and his credibility were attacked without warning online. Given his professional work history, Wyer never expected this type of attack would happen to him. Now serving as the managing director for Reputation Advocate, Inc., he focuses his efforts toward helping others who have been slandered online as he was.

In 1992, Steven C. Wyer established Wyer Creative Communications, Inc., a fully integrated direct marketing company focused on financial services. Wyer Creative utilized proprietary computer telephony integration and data rich information to support the efforts of 400 employees based out of two national call centers. The company was recognized in 1999 as the fastest growing company in middle Tennessee for five consecutive years and appointed to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce Hall Of Fame for private business.

Steven C. Wyer’s clients included General Electric, Chase, H&R Block, Equitable Securities, CTX, Banc One and First USA. Over the next nine years, Wyer Creative would influence the way the mortgage industry created, processed and serviced its clients. This period of time ushered in the “next wave” – consumers and the Internet.

According to Steven C. Wyer, “Even a decade ago, the average consumer was not interacting with electronic information on a daily basis. But that all changed quickly. Google was born in 1998 and by 2001 everyone knew what search engines could do.”

Steven C. Wyer has been a consultant to financial institutions involved in consumer lending and collections, mortgage lending and institutional asset management. His professional memberships have included the National Association of Securities Dealers, The Mortgage Bankers Association, The Direct Marketing Association, American Teleservices Association, The Debt Buyers Association and most recently the eMarketing Association. “Every one of these industries is now driven almost completely by the Internet,” reflects Wyer.

From 2001 until 2005, Steven C. Wyer built two companies that acquired and collected on just under one billion dollars worth of consumer debt. Fourteen call centers, three law firms and information built these companies into very powerful recovery platforms. “Those businesses were all built on information found on the Internet. We had access to a tremendous amount of instant information; it’s what drove the business,” says Wyer.

The companies ended up in litigation and all of the information and speculation surrounding the court activity wound up on the Internet. Wyer says that his life was irrevocably damaged by information found online. “It was shocking that people from the other side of the world asked questions that had nothing to do with the professional relationship I had developed with them. Both businesses ended up shutting their doors because of information I had no control over.”

In 2006, Wyer diversified his professional interests. He founded FlexHedge Small-Cap Equity Fund, a structured finance company providing fixed rate, fixed term financing for small and midsized public companies. This company was also negatively impacted by the information found online about Wyer’s former businesses. While it is said that parties are innocent until proven guilty, Steven C. Wyer experienced first hand that the Internet has upended such long held notions of justice. For the first time, he was confronted with the shadow side of the Internet. Wyer says that he has come to realize that there is real damage being done today because of search engine information that is incorrect, malicious or outdated.

“Today, the level of negative information, slander, half truths and spin is out of control,” says Steven C. Wyer. “Negative information found on the Internet impacts every area of life, and yet there is little that most people can do to correct it. It is unbelievable what this type of information is doing to the fabric of our society. A great man once said that a good reputation is hard earned over a lifetime but it can be gone in the blink of an eye.” Wyer notes that a disgruntled employee, a customer having a bad day, a frivolous lawsuit, envy, anger, even lust – it all has an unfiltered outlet through the Internet and the damage is hard to manage.

Steven C. Wyer’s book, Violated Online, delves into the stories behind online slander. The book offers more than 50 specific tips on how the reader can better prepare for an unexpected online attack. The book has opened up speaking opportunities throughout North America and now Wyer juggles the demands of overseeing a thriving business, setting aside time for his next book and the demands of travel.

Steven C. Wyer serves as the Managing Director for Reputation Advocate, Inc. He is the author of Violated Online published by Dunham Books. He may be contacted at 888-229-0746 or by email at swyer@reputationadvocate.com