Category Archives:Online Marketing Advice

SEO – What it means for Small Business

seo - search engine optimization

SEO – Search Engine Optimization – has been around a long time and it’s a great way to optimize your website pages so that they come up high in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

As you probably know, Google is the big kid on the block when it comes to search. Google processes nearly 40,000 searches every second, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day.

That’s a lot of search traffic – but getting to the top of Google’s search pages has become a mixture of science and an art form – and if you want to be successful, you need to constantly be up on the latest Google algorithm changes. (If you would like to geek out, here is a link to a timeline of Google algorithm changes: https://moz.com/google-algorithm-change).

NOTE: An algorithm change is when Google goes into their code and makes changes to how they decide what factors matter on a page. For example, “Page Rank” used to matter, or even “Keyword Frequency” (which let to “Keyword Stuffing” – a black hat SEO technique that added one keyword multiple times on a page, whether or not it made sense to the user.)

What is “Good SEO” for Small Business?

For small businesses, there is some good news…and some bad news… when it comes to SEO.

First of all, SEO is VERY important when it comes to organic (free) ranking of your pages in Google. Strong, foundational SEO ensures that Google creates clear descriptions on their Results Pages, and that your potential customers see the information they need so that they will make the decision to click to your site.

What do I mean by “strong, foundational SEO”?

Basically, many small businesses don’t even have the basics down when it comes to SEO on their site:

  • Page Title
  • Targeted KEYWORD (each page needs to focus on only one thing)
  • Page Description
  • Image alt-tags (the text that is in the background of the page that tells search engine spiders what an image is, since they can’t tell on their own)

All of these elements either show up on the Search Engine Results Page, or they help Google (or any other search engine) figure out what you pages, and your site, is all about.

Good SEO for Small Business

 

So as long as you have a good foundation in your SEO for all of the pages of your website, you’re in pretty good shape.

Bad SEO Techniques

However, if it’s been a while since you updated your SEO tactics, make sure you’re not doing these things anymore:

  1. No More Keyword Stuffing – Google will penalize you, even if it’s something that “some guy did years ago”. If you have lists of keywords in the footers of your pages or you mention multiple versions on the same keyword in a way that doesn’t make sense to a real human being (ex: “We’re the best plumber, plumbing services in Colorado that will do great plumbing work for you if you need a plumber.”), go in and clean it up. It’s not helping your ranking, and it could be hurting you.
  2. “Invisible” Content – this was a black hat tactic used years ago – basically you would include your keywords over and over again written in the same color as your landing page. At the time, the intent was to “trick” the spiders into thinking you really must be an expert in a certain word since it was mentioned so often, but it would have made your page look ridiculous if anyone could see “best car dealership” 500 times on a page.
  3. Comment Spam – yes, links to your site matter, but what Google frowns upon (and isn’t this all for Google anyway?) is links from other page comment sections that sends people to your site. Think about those annoying comments you see on other sites that go something like this: “Great comment! I used the same thing to make $1M in a week online. Click here to find out more.” If you have relevant content to show to people in the comment section, then that’s fine – but don’t comment with your link in the hopes of increasing your backlinks to your site. Google isn’t falling for that trick anymore.
  4. Don’t Buy Links – speaking of links, don’t ever, ever buy links (and while we’re at it, don’t buy social media followers either). “I’ll have 10K high-quality sites linking to your website for $50” is NOT the way to get your website ranked high in Google.

SEO for Small Business

SEO is an important component to your site – but only if you do it right. However, keep in mind that using SEO as your sole marketing tactic is expensive, time-consuming, and on-going. So for small businesses with limited time and resources, I would recommend you get the basics right, create great content for your visitors that will Educate, Convert and Delight – and spend your marketing budgets buying traffic through social media, PPC, etc.

Why Businesses (Large and Small) Should “Always Be Marketing”

If you’ve been in business for a while, you know that there are always ups and downs. Sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day to get your work done, and other times you worry about paying your bills.

But smart business owners know, that no matter what – in good times and bad – you Never…Stop…Marketing.

When you always have a marketing plan in place that’s being executed on a consistent basis, then it begins to act as insurance against the “downturns”. When your marketing is filling the pipeline, then you can use other strategies to manage the work – hire a virtual assistant, part-time/seasonal help, sub-contractors, etc. that can be brought in as-needed and allows you to accept the work that comes in when you’re marketing during “good times” rather than cutting off marketing to slow down the flow of new work.

But – how do you market your business when you’re REALLY busy?

If you only have a limited amount of time to market your company on your own, make sure you’re at least doing these 3 things.

1) Building your Buyer Personas – having well-developed Buyer Personas will serve you well throughout the year – and the great news is, while they may take some time to develop, once they’re in place they really don’t change. Your Buyer Personas are the foundation upon which you build all of your other marketing – social media, email marketing, social voice development, etc.

2) Managing Social Media – if you have a social media account that you haven’t updated in 2 months or more, either take it down or start posting updates. A ghost town on a social media site hurts your brand – and may even give the impression that you’re no longer in business. You don’t necessarily have to spend hours updating various platforms every week, but take a look at your Buyer Personas (once you’ve developed them), see where they hang out online, and focus only on those social media platforms. Keep in mind that some channels are hungrier for new content than others – but again, if you’re pressed for time, just make sure you don’t abandon an open social media channel.

3) Collecting leads on your site – if really doesn’t matter the type of business you’re in – when you “own” the email address or phone number of a visitor/potential customer then you “own” the conversation. If everything you do is on Facebook, then you’re beholden to the whims of Facebook. (Did you know less than 1% of all organic/free posts on Facebook are ever seen? That wasn’t always the case….) But when you can engage your visitor/customers via email with targeted, relevant information, then you can develop a relationship with that person that will lead to a sale, referral, etc. Also, you won’t need to always convert to a sale in those 10-20 seconds that a customer first come to your website. (Note: Once you have those leads, make sure you keep them warm with ongoing email communications filled with information they care about.)

Marketing is always important – don’t wait until business is down (which is usually when most business owners have time to think about it) and you don’t have the budget to pay for marketing. When you never stop marketing, then it becomes an integral part of doing business.

The Google Algorithm and Mobile Friendliness

The web is all “atwitter” about the latest big change to the the Google Algorithm. Starting Tuesday, April 21, 2015 Google will begin to weigh a site’s “mobile friendliness” when it comes to rankings – and will penalize sites that are not mobile friendly.

Right now it looks like Google will penalize your site’s ranking for not being mobile-friendly if a visitor is trying to search for you using a mobile device. This makes sense – I know that when I’m searching on my smartphone and I click on a site that’s NOT mobile-friendly it’s not only annoying, but I peg that company as being “out of date” since they never spent the time to update their site. So I personally would prefer that Google (or any search engine) would show me results that are relevant and readable based on the device I’m using.

More and more users are moving to mobile devices when they’re online – especially for search – so it makes sense (no matter WHAT Google is doing) to have a great, mobile-friendly site. In fact, if you’ve been on the fence about an upgrade to your website, maybe now is the time to consider pushing that redesign to the top of your to-do list.

Wondering if your website is Mobile Friendly? Here’s a useful Google Webmaster Tool to help you find out: Click Here to Test Your Website.