According to Google, if your website doesn't load in three seconds, 40% of people will abandon it.

1. A Christmas present from Google

As we enter 2016 it’s predicted that structured data is going to be a very important determining ranking factor on Google. Structured data is the ‘extra’ information you see next to a website and meta description, says SEO expert Jim Stewart in a recent SmartCompany article:

“Google has determined that there are 12 trillion pages on the internet, and 60% of those pages are duplicates,” he says. “This will always affect your ranking poorly, so clean up your duplicates. Google has also found that 40% of people who click on your site will abandon it if the site doesn't load in three seconds,” says Stewart. In other words your pages should load as fast possible.

2. An important Facebook update

In a Facebook post announcement, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the social media platform is “thrilled” to be helping small businesses stay in touch with customers. SMBs will soon be given more insights about the customers that message them on Facebook and will be better able to track the comments left on their business’s page.

Sandberg states that from December onwards, all pages can set the average time it takes for them to reply to messages and admins can choose to show that they respond either within minutes, within an hour, within hours or within a day. 

“Additionally, page response times will now show up in messenger threads when a person messages a business, so people know when to expect a response from the business,” says Sandberg.

Facebook said it is also simplifying the monitoring and response process of comments on Facebook posts with a new tool to be placed under the ‘activity’ tab on a Facebook page. The tab allows page admins to see all customer comments in one place, from both desktops and mobiles.

3. Sites that are rising in popularity

Most likely you’re establishing your business’s presence across Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, but there are a number of other channels gaining traction among younger users, says Fi Bendall, chief executive of The Bendalls Group, who identifies four channels to embrace in the New Year as Polyvore, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat.

Polyvore is a niche social commerce site specialising in fashion and style. It’s a good example of the type of social network that is very much geared to service a specific type of user, and if your business aligns with that user, then you should definitely give Polyvore some serious thought,” says Bendall.

Instagram requires considerable effort to create a carefully curated and beautifully attractive feed. This is increasing in popularity and has a ‘bio’ section where you can insert a call-to-action to drive traffic to your website.

Pinterest is widely recognised as the fastest-growing social media network, passing the 100-million-user mark in September, says Bendall. If your business is visual, Pinterst is a great way to showcase your products and services as people pin photos on their virtual pinboards for others to see.

“It’s very lifestyle-driven, making it a great match for brands in consumer markets such as homewares, fashion and food.”

Snapchat is wildly popular among millennials, but older generations haven’t shown as much interest yet. Using this app largely depends on your target market.

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