The Most Important Elements of SEO for Small Business Owners
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the key to online visibility. No matter how high the quality of your products might be, or how outstanding your services are, that does not necessarily translate into online success. And, while SEO does have some similarities when it comes to small, medium and large businesses, there are significant differences that small business owners need to know.
In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know about the most important elements of SEO for small business owners, and how you can capitalize on these to build better online visibility.
It’s All about the Local
If you’re a small business owner, chances are very good that you’re also a local business owner. That’s a good thing – Google LOVES local business owners. However, the challenge is that you need to find methods to work that location into your content. You can do this in a number of different ways.
One of those is to work your location into your keywords. For instance, septic tank installation in Atlanta is a keyword phrase that your customers might look for (assuming they’re in the Atlanta area), and that Google will reward you for using in your content. Localizing your content throughout your website will have a major impact on your visibility.
You should also take the time to make sure that your address, phone number and other contact information on your website matches the contact information on your other online profiles. This should include social networks, online yellow pages/business directories, consumer review sites like Yelp, and more.
Choosing the Appropriate Keywords
As mentioned above, you need to target the right keywords in the first place. Localization is important, but if you haven’t targeted the right base keywords, your efforts will be less than successful. This is particularly important for small business owners, who lack the deep pockets of big businesses that allow those firms to compete for highly competitive (read: expensive) keywords.
Your keywords should be evocative and tied directly to your products or services, and your customers’ needs. However, they also need to be as specific as possible. For example, if you ran an auto repair shop in Charlotte, North Carolina, you might be tempted to target keywords like auto repair, oil change, engine tune-up and the like.
You would probably get some traction out of that, but it’s very likely that you’d ultimately lose out to companies with larger marketing budgets that can afford to pay more for their keyword bids. To avoid that problem, you’ll need to change your tactics. You need to get more specific. For instance, rather than auto repair, you might target something like import auto repair in Charlotte, or maybe cheap oil changes in Charlotte, NC if you really wanted to get specific.
The more specific your keywords are, the less competition there will be for them. This allows you to target actual search terms your customers are using, while not paying a fortune in the process, or running up against competitors who’ve already saturated the market with the keywords that you’ve chosen.
Read enough SEO guides and you’ll see that the amount of content on your site is a critical consideration mentioned in pretty much all of them. This is because Google rewards sites with more (relevant) content with higher rankings in the search results pages. It all comes down to authority. Google figures that if you have more relevant content about a particular topic, then you’re definitely an authority on that topic. Thus, you get higher placement.
So, in order to capitalize on this, you’ll need to create more content. How much more? Well, there’s the catch. No one really knows how much Google thinks is “more”. The best rule of thumb is this – keep creating content and posting it on your site for as long as possible. It’s not really a process that will ever end.
You can use this content in any number of ways – as blog fodder, in the form of product reviews, product comparisons, whitepapers, reports, and the like. The more value you can deliver to your visitors in the form of relevant, accurate content, the better you’ll do in search engine placement.
This is a subtopic, but one that bears a little scrutiny, as it allows you to kill two birds with one stone. Creating content is important. Creating links back to your website is also important. You can do both by creating link-worthy content that others in your industry want to link to and share with their own visitors. Infographics are excellent examples of content with just this type of potential. A quick Google search will show you tons of high-quality infographics that were originally created for one particular website, and then linked to from innumerable others. You want that for your own business.
Google loves consumer-generated content, particularly customer reviews. They’re also very popular with consumers. Really, when was the last time you bought something off Amazon and DIDN’T read the customer reviews or look at the star rating of the product before buying? You can turn that to your advantage. Use your niche focus and localization to help you find consumers who will give you reviews (preferably positive) on social sites. These can include Facebook, as well as Yelp. Those reviews will provide additional juice for your website’s rankings – link to them from your site, but also promote them on your social channels to really up the amount of oomph you get from them.
These are just some of the crucial considerations small business owners need to take when it comes to SEO. Remember that localization matters a great deal, and you need to focus on niche keywords to avoid competition with bigger companies with deeper pockets. Also remember that SEO never really ends, and content creation is an ongoing process that will yield rich results over time.