Ignore the search engines at your peril. Today, with so many people flocking online to research purchases, to find suppliers, and to otherwise conduct business — knowing something about how to get traffic to your websites from the search engines is an essential part of marketing.
Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer, or use SEO professionals to help you, it pays to know something about SEO. I subscribe to the philosophy that the more you know about a subject, the better you are able to ask informed questions, hire qualified professionals, and make good decisions to enhance your Web presence.
That brings me to last month. I was asked once again (my 5th time!) to present a webinar for the Verizon Small Business Center. This particular webinar was called: “Improving Your Current SEO Experience.”
For that webinar I polled 9 of my professional SEO and social media colleagues for their insights of key SEO tactics and strategies that we should be addressing in our small businesses. Below I have paraphrased a small sampling of the advice from the expert panel:
- Aaron Wall of SEOBook on choosing domain names: “Start with a good descriptive domain name. You spend less to market & brand descriptive URLs. Plus, they are good for search engines and for humans. Look at premium domains – you will pay more initially but thereafter the cost to renew is exactly the same. ” Aaron goes on to advise: “A mistake that small businesses make is to divide up their blog and websites into too many different domains. Trust, reputation and link equity accumulates faster with one site than multiple sites. In general, one large site is going to be better than 3 small sites.
- Matt McGee of Small Business Search Marketing on developing a trusted site: “Trust is the #1 SEO ranking factor. Earn trust from your visitors (through providing great content) and search engines will follow suit. Establish yourself as an expert — create excellent content that people will want to link to and share. Keep a long term focus; tricks and shortcuts are not the way to earn trust.”
- Robert Brady of RighteousMarketing.com on paid search marketing: “When it comes to paid search ads, it’s about ‘relevance.’ The keywords you bid on, the ad copy, and what’s on the landing page should match closely and be relevant to one another in order to increase customer conversions. Using keywords in your ad copy will boost click-through rates by as much as 50% better. Landing pages that deliver the promise of the ad will also boost conversion rates.
- Vedran Tomic of SEO Rabbit on optimizing for local businesses: “To attract visitors from your local area, include words on your website that your customers use to describe your business (not necessarily the words you use). If you serve a specific geographic area, describe that in detail on your website. Get links from local businesses, local industry associations and local suppliers. Vedran goes on: Create “local listings” in all major search engines and Internet Yellow Page sites. Be sure to describe and categorize your business correctly. Encourage customers to review your business.”
- Tamar Weinberg of Techipedia.com on social media: “Social media sites tend to be trusted sites today. This means search engines may rank these pages higher than other destinations on the ‘net. Create profiles on social media sites (e.g., Twitter) and add content to such sites regularly. Fresh content means search engines will visit often!”
- Marty Lamers of Articulayers.com on creating website content: “When writing website copy, write for humans first, before search engines. Include your targeted keyphrase in your page title. Use variations like plurals or even synonyms in the header. Create stronger content versus increasing the density of targeted keywords. “
- Will Spencer of MemeBridge.com on links to your site: “Links to your site from other sites are crucial. A diversity of link sources/techniques is important – among them: creating linkbait content; blogger outreach; guest blogging; article marketing; and niche directory submissions.”
- Debra Mastaler of LinkSpiel.com on developing link building campaigns: “Understand your market and demographic, to know where and how to promote your content. Survey your customers and watch popular news outlets for trends and ideas to create linkable content. Make your branded content EASY to link to. Develop a presence on high traffic sites. Become known as the “go to” source for certain types of information.”
- Diane Vigil of DianeV.com on the importance of a strong technical foundation: “Choose a great Web host with 24/7 phone support. Make sure you actually own your domain name (e.g., your IT consultant may have registered the domain). Be sure your domain name resolves to www.site.com or site.com — not both. Site backups are vital, so confirm that your entire site is backed up regularly. Pay attention to your website’s security.”
And now for my own bit of advice:
- Anita Campbell on finding good SEO professionals to hire: Build SEO into your marketing plan, just like other disciplines. Doing SEO well takes learning and skill. Value that skill set when hiring SEO service providers; focus on the value of the results, not price. In other words, don’t just go for the low-priced provider. Ask for recommendations from other small business owners and managers. Finally, educate yourself; the more you know, the better your interaction with SEO service providers. How do you educate yourself about SEO? Attend seminars. Read blogs. Network to get to know professional SEOs.
There was a lot more in addition to the above – I did not have enough room here to summarize an hour’s worth of content. The archived webinar is here: Improving Your Current SEO Experience.
Thank you very much for this timely post. I’m putting together a presentation for a workshop to online business owners in start-up mode. I have been struggling to figure out how to boil the SEO message down into a few concise thoughts with prescriptive recommendations. This post has definitely helped. I’ll be including the link to the archived webinar in my handouts, as well. It’s beginning to look like I’ll see a bit of my Sunday afternoon now. Thanks again.
Thank you so much for these great suggestions! SEO is a constantly evolving science, and one really has to stay on top of things!
The Franchise King
Hi Sarah, OK good. I hope you will give credit to the experts who shared the tips, and point people to their sites to learn more.
Hi Joel, SEO is an essential block of knowledge for business owners and managers today.
It’s like knowing about finances, human resources, sales, etc. Now you need to know something about SEO, too, if you expect to run your business intelligently. You at least need to know the right questions to ask outside SEO providers, so that you can choose the best providers and get the best results possible for the money you spend with them.
Anita: Great tips! Have you listened to John Jantsch’s interview with Brian Clark of CopyBlogger?
Thanks Anita – A great collection of information titbits. I run a web design company concentrating on SMEs and will be sure to point my clients to this article. Seems like you can no longer pull the wool over Google’s eyes and you really have write good articles and be respected by humans to rank highly. A good thing.
Sound advice right through this article. I always vouch for businesses to blog, it’s the quickest way to build up domain strength and trust and display expertise. It can pay huge dividends.
Great advice for small businesses. I’d place less emphasis on the need for a “great domain name”. Clients often ask about buying additional domain names with keywords, and I almost always discourage them. If you employ keywords elsewhere in the URLs of your optimized pages, your domain name has little impact on your search engine results. We discuss that here: http://www.rankmagic.com/blog/2009/01/24/seo-tip-keywords-in-your-domain-name/
Thanks for nine more reasons to get better at what I have been struggling with. Establishing more trust is the real component that I will be working on to get more followers.
Business owners can manage their Local Business Listings themselves.
Google local business listings is fast becoming the “New” Seo for local businesses. The Google seven pack may soon be more important that traditional, organic SEO for small businesses
This is a good collection of varied views on SEO.
I was interested n Aaron Wall’s comment as in my experience, which is no where as extensive as his, is that highly targeted search-based domains are ranking highly at the moment.
I’ve seen it with general products like credit cards and with local suppliers like photographers.
I shall test.
A good compilation of SEO tips.
Only thing I could add is patience, patience, patience. This stuff takes a long time to achieve.
Superb Article, SEO is an essential block of knowledge for business owners and managers today.