Beacons and proximity marketing behaviours are about to change SEO over the next 12 to 24 months, making it essential for retailers and businesses to adopt this emerging technology.
Here we take a look at how beacons will play a role in digital marketing and how search engines may rank local search queries, through the data provided by beacons.
Beacons are small Bluetooth (BLE 4.0) signal transmitters with a localised range. They can recognise when a smartphone is nearby and are designed to allow retailers or businesses to communicate with shoppers or clients.
Deployed in-store or in-reception for businesses, beacons use push notifications to show nearby clients ads, discounts, promotions or any other message that the business may wish to share.
Android and Apple iOS smartphones have had Bluetooth BLE 4.0 built in since 2013, and dual-mode beacons can now simultaneously transmit data to these devices.
The beacons themselves, are managed via a beacon management system, which allows the control staff to customise notifications, the proximity to which a push notification will be issued and the timing to deliver that content.
The latest beacons have Wi-Fi, giving a secondary communication method to interact with clients, while making beacons IoT devices (Internet of Things).
Next, we take a look at how beacons can and will be used to affect search engine rankings and provide more specific digital marketing messages..
A client or consumer’s previous search engine queries could be identified by a beacon and this information could be used to push more relevant information to the client, who is using a smartphone or tablet.
For example, if the device owner has searched for a specific brand or product previously, then the beacon could push a notification or advert to the device owner about that brand or product.
Google could collect beacon data, either directly from the beacon or the consumers device, including the exact location, foot traffic and interactions, and use this information as a ranking factor for local internet search results.
This beacon data could be added to the already strongly influenced Google local search results, which are ranked upon where the person is and what is around them. Beacon data could affect search engine results in real-time.
Beacons could also in the future, use Facebook data to see what friends have liked and use this information. For example, if a smartphone user walks into a store, the beacon could know that their spouse has recently liked a product or brand and push a tailored ad based on that information.
Beacons can also simply be used to collect data on who has been where, without at that time pushing a notification or ad to that person. Digital marketers and search engines could then use this data to target specific marketing to them, at a later time or even on another device.
Digital marketing consultants could use footfall and proximity data to develop SEO strategies based upon the in-store products or displays that attracted clients attention the most.
The way in which beacon data is used and its role in SEO is set to become more influential in the near future. However, beacon technology already exists and software updates will be used to tap into their potential.
Therefore, new beacons will not necessarily need to be deployed to take advantage of what is likely to be ongoing evolution.
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