Bing recently urged SMBs to understand their target audience and create content that reaches them.

Small businesses looking to improve their presences on the web must be active on several different fronts. According to Duane Forrester, senior product manager for Bing, SMBs and others using web marketing need to make themselves part of conversation, and understanding where target audiences are most active will help drive engagement.

Forrester said on Bing’s Webmaster Central blog that the days of simply sharing some content and hoping for traffic to come in are over.

“You have to expand your view to include topics such as usability, conversion optimization and user engagement,” Forrester wrote. “Long gone are the days where an SEO could state ‘I got the people here, what they do from here is the Product Manager’s concern.’”

More companies than ever are active on social networks and integrating SEO best practices into their marketing material. Developing a strategy that factors in different elements of a target audience’s behavior on the web is a competitive necessity.

Presenting content that will engage users where they are is the starting point for a social media marketing element of an overall web strategy. Forrester raises two key points that must inform small business marketing efforts on the web. 

  • “If you’re involved, you can influence the direction of the conversation.
  • “If you’re involved, you can respond as needed.”

When an SMB shares content on a social network, tracking the conversation surrounding the article or blog post can help further engage prospects and advance a company’s position as a leading voice on the web. As more fans and followers engage with a small business, its authority will grow and prospects’ trust in the organization will grow.

"You have to expand your view to include topics such as usability, conversion optimization and user engagement. Long gone are the days where an SEO could state 'I got the people here, what they do from here is the Product Manager’s concern.'“ – Bing product manager Duane Forrester

ContentLEAD recently highlighted a study from About.com that pegged trust as one of the most critical elements of increasing site traffic and conversions on the web. Eighty-four percent of respondents said they will not purchase an item from a company if they do not trust it. Actively pushing content and engaging with prospects on the web will demonstrate a desire to educate and inform a target audience. The goal, of course, is to make sales, but the web has placed a premium on fostering a strong relationship with prospects before conversion.

Forrester said social’s growing impact on visibility and sales on the web was a major reason for Bing’s integration of social content into search results. Additionally, the company continues to advance its use of Facebook, Twitter and other platforms’ data into its search results. The latest step in the integration of social with search from Bing is the ability to tag friends when sharing search results, so they can access the same links their friends or followers did.