Yes, the little guy is finally beginning to have a shot at showing up for big time keywords on Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages). Google’s number one goal is to provide its users the most relevant search results for their search query. It just so happens that 90% of the time the most relevant search results are the local ones. Small businesses need to take advantage of the benefits SEO can bring to their company.
I noted back in my February blog post the four factors that are beginning to shape the new world of SEO. Those factors were: big content, content distribution, local search and author rank. Every business, no matter the size, should now be pushing their “search engine marketing” efforts. Search engine marketing is a great alternative for small businesses who do not have an advertising or marketing budget or for those who are in such a competitive niche that advertising methods like Adwords are too expensive for them.
Google is pushing local now more than ever. For example, if you go to Google and type in “advertising,” you’re more than likely going to see a local agency near you. When I’m at our office in downtown Carmel and I search for “advertising,” the first result I get is the Current in Carmel website. If I’m at my home in Westfield typing in the same keyword, I get a few more authoritative websites, like Wikipedia and entrepreneur.com, but the fifth ranking site is a marketing company that’s a few minutes away in Noblesville.
This is why SEO is very important for small businesses... because now there is a chance for them to show up for very competitive keywords without paying a penny. Search engine marketing for small businesses is not rocket science. Check out the list below to see how you can begin to see improvements in your rankings for keywords. While it may be time consuming, these tasks can be done by just about anyone, so hire yourself an intern if you have to... whatever you have to do to get the below tasks completed.
- First, you need to add a couple of plugins to your website (if it’s a WordPress website). RankReporter and WordPress SEO by Yoast are great plugins for identifying what pages need worked on (in terms of onsite SEO) and what keywords your webpages are showing up for.
- The next step is working on your on-site SEO. This form of SEO consists of optimizing your website for search engines, whether it’s how you’re structuring your web pages or the content that you’re putting out on your website. SEOmoz wrote a great article about on-site SEO which can be found here.
- Content. Content. Content. The problem most small business owners have is that they lack the will to commit an hour (or two) a week to writing one quality blog post about a topic within their industry. Pushing out content to your website, while following the guidelines laid out for you in the SEOmoz article, is a great way to improve your rankings in the search results. Not only should you be publishing content, but you need to make sure that you have a Google+ page and that you are the author of your blog. You can do that by following the steps laid out in this article.
- Maps and Directories. Set yourself up on Google and Bing maps, which is very straightforward and only takes about 20 minutes. Once you’ve done this, check out the top 50 local directories laid out by Hubspot’s Eric Vreeland.
Once you’ve done the above tasks it all circles back to content and rich media, like videos and infographics. Creating unique, quality content goes hand in hand with Google’s top priority of providing its users the most relevant search results. Google rewards people who create unique content that is useful for its audience. Don’t slack off. Push yourself to write a blog at least once a week.
In my experience with small business owners, most believe they do not have the time to work on their Search Engine Marketing campaigns or they are afraid of working on something outside of their comfort zone. But if you are one of those small business owners that put an effort into increasing your website’s rankings, you are really going to have a chance to see a return on your time.