SEO: Giving Small Businesses a Chance to Compete Online
Competition in the business environment is as cut-throat today as it ever was; with new businesses constantly struggling to find purchase in an ever-increasingly saturated marketplace. One area that new businesses are finding a way to compete against much larger, more powerful entities, though, is through online channels. The phenomenon of online business in the modern day is developing in a way that allows deep market penetration by newly established small businesses with only a fraction of the marketing budgets of large corporations by spending time developing their online presence.
However, while the majority of small businesses are aware of this, the time that running a small business consumes doesn’t allow one to simply drop everything and study web development, search engine optimisation, social media marketing, and pay per click advertising (let alone search psychology, outreach and analytics).
So what do you do? Pay a web designer to create a site and ask them to ‘SEO’ it for you? Spend a huge amount of your non-existent marketing budget on a digital agency to handle everything? Or, carry out some basic research and be able to understand most of the jargon, if not every specific process, and then work towards implementing bits and pieces as you go?
Simply put, failing having a large budget to throw away on an agency, you need to understand the basics if you want to succeed online. Yes, you can probably find an SEO company to work for peanuts, but you know the saying… Taking such a risk with what could effectively be your largest revenue source by paying for cheap, quick-fix SEO is a huge risk that Google’s animal-moniker sentinels (Panda, Penguin, etc.) regularly clamp down on.
Now, there is a wealth of information out there from the likes of Moz, Searchengineland, SEOmark and others, but it can get a bit overwhelming with so much more new information, acronyms and terms to get your head around. So, to make things a little easier, and to help you on your way, here are some easy to implement SEO tips to help you in the long run.
1. If you don’t understand SEO, don’t try to implement it yourself. It’s not hugely confusing, but if you try too hard to meet certain criteria, you might just hurt rather than help your rankings. Create a website that focuses on providing your ideal viewers/customers with exactly what they want to find, organised cleanly and clearly. Build a site for your audience, not the search engines.
2. Don’t copy information from other sources to publish on your site. Google’s bots are very clever at recognising this and at the least you will gain nothing out of it, at the most your site could be penalised.
3. Blog. This 1 simple word means a lot. Businesses that blog gain, on average, 55% more visitors and 97% more inbound links. Don’t know what to write about? Think about interesting developments in your industry, recent sales, popular products, lists of problems and how to overcome them in your industry, interviews, and so on. Also remember that while you could pay someone to do this for you, you need to help them with specific guidance. You are the person who knows your business best, after all.
4. Create social media profiles and link them to each other and to your site. Make sure your Google+ page is setup as a business page with a verified location. Complete each profile fully, with as much info as you can and with at least 4 photos. Share all informative pages and blog posts on all possible outlets and utilise shortened URLs, hashtags and images for new posts.
4. Connect with your customers. Encourage customers to join your social networks, review your service on Google+ or your website and interact with every single customer that comments on your pages.
5. Join forums that are related to your industry and develop your profile and reputation by offering helpful advice and comments (remember that this is a business profile, so obviously remain polite and courteous at all times).
Now, this is all pretty basic stuff, but it is often overlooked or considered too costly in terms of time. Though in terms of the social media related points, I’d counter with the return of directly communicating with your target market audience, developing a following of people who are interested, whom you can find out huge amounts of information on through tools like Google Analytics, and develop marketing efforts around. Being in such a position is a marketer’s dream, but getting there takes time and effort. It certainly won’t happen overnight.
Alternatively, you can seek the help of an affordable SEO specialist, who can guide you through the process, so you don’t have to invest so much time in learning the procedures. SEOpie offers such a service; with detailed on and off-site analysis, a full breakdown of what is needed to achieve rank improvements, a continual evolution of your website’s search presence, and regular updates with explanation of results and further opportunities. Visit us today and take your slice of the pie.