The world as we know it is changing, and has been for the past three decades. The foundation – trust – has remained the same, but now it’s trust amongst both consumers and search engines, versus just consumers as in the past.

The internet explosion that occurred back in the ’90s revolutionized the marketing and advertising industries, giving businesses an alternative to reach potential customers over traditional TV, radio and print. The next big hit was the smartphone, which gave users an even more convenient way to access the internet. Then before you knew it, social media was taking over, tracking user data and turning it into personalized ad experiences. Needless to say, the world has been changing significantly for almost 30 years – and it’s not showing signs of slowing down any time soon.

The big internet trends to watch, the ones that will further the online revolution, include voice search – and voice-controlled products – “near me” searches, and e-commerce. All of these trends affect the way users are consuming information, the way they are buying, and the way they are moving in this fast-paced world. This is evidenced in the Internet Trends Report, compiled annually by Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins (formerly Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, aka KPCB).

Let’s take a look at three of the big internet trends Meeker revealed, and how you can apply them to your local search and digital marketing strategies right now.

The Voice Search Revolution

We’ve all known for a while that voice search is coming. With 30,000 skills now on Amazon Echo and a 95-percent word accuracy on Google Machine Learning, it’s safe to say that voice search and voice-controlled products are here to stay.

So how can businesses take advantage of this growing trend? The answer is a simple word: optimizing. But executing it correctly is not as simple as it sounds. There’s no magic wand to wave; no easy, fast solution that will take care of your website – there’s nothing without putting in the love and hard work.

Optimizing your website and business online persona for voice search might take some time, true – but the results are well worth the wait and effort. Yes, I’ve been talking about this for over a year. Voice search will be huge in the near future – so huge that comScore has predicted that 50 percent of all search queries will be voice search by 2020. That means if a business is not optimized for voice search, they might be missing out on many potential customers.

But how exactly will voice search revolutionize the online world? Know this: People who search by voice are looking for convenience. Since they don’t have to worry about typing – or about typos – search queries are longer, more precise, and more question-focused. They are looking at search engines to give them straight answers; so, what is the best way to rank on voice searches? You must have the content that people are looking for and write it in a user-friendly way.

Undeniable E-Commerce Evidence

According to the 2018 Internet Trends report, e-commerce revenue was up an unprecedented 16 percent! With those numbers, businesses and brands should consider optimizing their websites and social media accounts to facilitate e-commerce whenever possible. Even if e-commerce is not an option for a particular company – because of the type of products or services they offer – they should look for a way to link their offline business with their online offering.

Here’s a good real-world example of the above using nationwide property restoration company Restoration 1. The nature of the services they provide – property restoration after water damage, fire & smoke damage, or mold growth – makes it impossible for the multi-location business to offer e-commerce. But they dooffer an option to request services online. This is not only consumer-friendly and a great strategy, it also successfully ties the offline business to their online persona.

Whenever possible, brands should look into selling their products on the Marketplace (yes, Amazon Marketplace). Did you know that 49 percent of internet users start a product search directly on Amazon? Only 36 percent use search engines for the same purpose! I’ve always advocated that the value of online reviews is immeasurable – particularly for local businesses. With Amazon providing an easy way to access reviews, it’s no wonder the percentage of people searching there is so high.

What happens, though, when you don’t have a product, and therefore you can’t get reviews from marketplaces like Amazon? In that case, Google My Business is definitely your friend. Considering that 2 out of 3 customers say having positive reviews about a business or product is an important factor when they make buying decisions, I think it’s safe to say that reviews are essential for any brand or business.

In the past year, according to the 2018 Internet Trends report, “near me” searches have increased 900 percent. Hold on, that is not a typo– I do mean 900 percent, and that is astounding! This clearly shows that users are looking for more personalized options when searching on engines like Google or Bing. This “near me” trend is further evidenced by other search queries that also increased during last year, including “for me” – up 60 percent – and “should I,” which was up 65 percent.

People are looking for local businesses that can provide immediate services that are tailored to the customer’s wants and needs. The question becomes how to take advantage of this trend?There’s a few things businesses could do to optimize their content, but these are not overnight, simple solutions. The strategy must change constantly, always taking into consideration data and analytics.

In order for content to rank appropriately for these search terms, it must always be consistent and accurate. The content should at all times be related to the business in question. Another important aspect is to monitor the business’ reputation, as well as reviews. Is it important to reply to online reviews? Yes, absolutely! In fact, it is essentialto address them, particularly when they are delivering a negative message. Reviews should be answered politely and apologetically. Forget about going on a rant! Be diplomatic – otherwise the business’ reputation could tank in an instant.

What Actions Are You Going to Take Next?

These are only a few – but extremely powerful – takeaways points. Access the complete infographic for an easy-to-digest view of this data and the other big takeaways I spotted.

When it comes to best practices, be proactive. The needs of Google, search, and consumers are always changing. It’s important you stay aware of these changes to adapt and evolve your local and digital marketing strategies for the businesses you represent.