There are a lot voices for a small business owner to listen to. There are the people in your niche who are telling you the best way to do something, there are industry blogs, there are forums, and there are the other marketers whose success you’re trying to emulate. Sometimes, in all of that, it can be difficult to know which voices are worth trusting and who really knows what they’re talking about. However, there’s one voice whose advice is hard to argue with. And that’s the voice of Google.
While I was at PubCon Vegas last week, I had the opportunity to attend a keynote conversation that took place between Googlers Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal. During that talk, Matt outlined the key areas he believed business owners should be focusing their attention.
What three hot spots does Matt think SMBs should particularly be spending their time?
During his talk Matt defined a cell phone as “a computer you carry with you everywhere” and that seems to be the growing trend. Our phones are no longer intended simply to help us make phone calls on the go. We use them to discover things – restaurants, mechanics, supply stores, etc. This is why it’s important that as a business owner you make sure your Web site loads properly and is functional via a mobile device. You may assume that your customers will be searching for you solely via their desktop but we can’t make that assumption anymore. Because more and more it’s proving false.
You couldn’t walk anywhere during PubCon without hitting a conversation about social media, and that’s why Matt named it one of the top areas for business owners to watch. With the recent launch of Google+ Pages for Businesses it’s clear that Google wants to move to a more social Web. A Web that is less based on anonymity and more based on reputation because that’s how Google believes they’re going to make the Web better and add more accountability. You don’t necessarily have to optimize social for search engines, says Matt, but make sure you’re giving off the right signals both with your content and your social influence. Participate in discussions, share content that is relevant to your audience, make it easy for others to share your content. These are all things that will be becoming more important in the future. Social is not going to die.
It should make small business owners feel good to know that the head of Web spam at Google sees small business owners and stressed this as an area of priority. Matt said that local is where the vast majority of purchases take place and that you need to create a strategy for promoting your business online. As a small business owner, you start promoting your business by building awareness through findability by claiming and verifying all your online listings.
Related to covering the basics and claiming listings, Matt also recommended that business owners sign up for Google Webmaster Tools to get email alerts about the health of their Web sites. If you’re not familiar with Google Webmaster Tools it’s a fantastic resource for businesses of all sizes to learn more about their sites and understand more about what Google sees.
With so much noise out there about what’s important and what direction small business owners should be looking in, it’s nice to hear Google give us some cues, even if they’re things we were already doing. Who doesn’t love confirmation that we were on the right track all along?
How do Matt’s comments line up with your site strategy? Do you feel like you’re on the right page or will you be shifting any of your efforts?