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Posts tagged: small business seo

New Website For Your Small Business? SEO Is In Your Future

If you’re just starting to promote your small business’ new website, you’re going to have a lot of people trying to get your attention. They’re going to try to sell you on a variety of different ways to promote your website and get visitors to come to it. Before you say ‘yes’ to any of them, however, you should read a little bit about what they’re trying to do.

Black-Hat Crap That Will Get Your Site Nuked
If you have someone come up to you and offer you an opportunity to partake in their “link exchange”, “link ring”, “link swap”, or basically anything else that starts with the word “link” and has a second word that means either “trade” or is a form of construction like a ring, pyramid, tesseract, or some such, they’re almost always a black hat SEO guy. Black hat SEO works — and it works fast — but it’s not anything you want if you intend to be in business for more than a month or three. That’s because black hat techniques are inevitably discovered, and once discovered, they’re penalized so hard that you’ll never get a first page placement on Google ever again.

Grey-Hat SEO That Will Rank Your Site, but Not Much Else
If someone says that your small business’ SEO should consist of “backlink building”, “link building”, “link generation”, “link creation”, or other phrase that sounds like they’re going to create links themselves out of thin air and effort, you’re dealing with a grey-hat SEO company. Google doesn’t like grey-hat SEO, but they don’t nuke it. Grey-hat SEO works, but it’s not ideal — you’ll pay your money, and you’ll probably get some decent ranking, but there’s better to be had.

White-Hat SEO That Will Build Your Brand
The best SEO is based around content, not links. It’s more expensive, so for many cash-strapped small businesses, grey-hat SEO is actually preferable at first — but white-hat SEO has benefits. Because it’s based on getting high-quality content onto the Internet, it creates positive vibes through social media, builds brand awareness, and get you ranked on the search engines at the same time.

It’s possible — even normal — for a single company to offer both white-hat and grey-hat SEO, depending on what you can afford. If you want the best, ask about ‘content marketing’ and ‘linkbait content’. That’s where the gold is.

Cut Cost, Increase Profit with Small Business SEO Services

To be successful with an internet business it is essential that you use SEO techniques. This is especially true of the small business, even those with limited budgets. Using small business SEO methods will ensure that your website receives maximum exposure with the minimum amount of fuss and cost.

Small business owners will want to look around and get the best deal for their money. Small business SEO techniques are neither quick nor are you paying for a one-off service. It is an ongoing method of ensuring that you get the best return on a regular basis. There are plenty of firms who offer small business SEO packages these days at an affordable price.

Small Business SEO Strategies:
1) Original Content: Search engines rank better on original and new content that is relevant to the business. A small business SEO provider will make sure your website is optimized with at least 10-20 pages of relevant content, all of which are highly relevant and don’t contain repeated or filler content.
2) Keywords: Keywords and the use of them is the single most important part of small business SEO. Selection of the right keywords and their placement is vital if you want to achieve top results and high rankings. Depending on your business and its location, you will either use Local or Global SEO practices in order to reach the intended targets.
3) Quality Traffic: You want traffic to your website but it has to be quality, not quantity. A small business SEO consultant will ensure that you only receive traffic that is liable to purchase your product or service. It’s better to have 5 quality visitors than 50 passers-by. Making sure your content is relevant and up to date is the best way of ensuring the right visitors.
4) Link Building Services: All online business needs to carry out link-building – it’s the only proven way to get traffic flowing. For the small business, an SEO consultant will employ different practices, as opposed to a large business. He will use local services rather than global to ensure that your website reaches its target audience.

6 Small Business SEO ProTips

Start With Your Budget
The single most distressing fact about small business SEO is that it requires both time and money, and the less money you can put in, the more time it takes. That’s because the effects of SEO are cumulative, and the more you pay, the more an optimization company will do for you in a given time-period. So the first thing you need to do it figure out how much you can afford to put in each month, knowing that the more you put in, the faster it’ll become profitable.

Go Local
For a small business, it makes much more economic sense to invest in local internet marketing than in broad-scale marketing. Unless your business happens to be able to ship all over the world (or offers an entirely digital service), you don’t want to pay your optimizer to get hits from London and Senegal — you want customers that will actually buy from you.

Pair with PPC
SEO taking as long as it does to work, you might want to consider a pay-per-click marketing campaign to go alongside your SEO campaign. Yes, it means spending even more money, but PPC has bottom-line results the very next day, and if you calculate your percentages right, you can use the profit from your PPC campaign to pay for itself plus the SEO work you need done.

Be Penguin- and Panda-Approved
‘Penguin’ and ‘Panda’ are (vaguely) recent Google updates that made a lot of SEO techniques invalid. Don’t work with any optimizer that isn’t able to explain why their techniques are still valid under Panda and Penguin.

Look For Similar Results
Many search engine optimizers will take any old customer that comes along, without paying much attention to the details of each customer’s unique market and circumstances. Ask a potential SEO company if they’ve had success with customers like you, and ask them to show you. If they can’t, check out their competition and ask again.

Settle In For the Long Haul
Even after your SEO efforts start showing a profit, you’re not done — if you cut off your SEO spending the moment you see positive numbers, you’re going to be overtaken by a hungry competitor who is willing to spend enough to knock you off your top spot. SEO spending is something you’ll be doing for as long as you intend to have an Internet presence — just keep looking at the RoI and remind yourself that it’s well worth every penny.

Local Internet Marketing Means Finding a Local Internet

When you first start your business and you realize that you need an Internet presence to really compete in today’s market, there are two routes you can go: you can market world-wide, which totally works if you’ve got a product you can ship anywhere or a service you can offer via the Internet, or — much more likely — if you have a localized target audience, you can use local internet marketing.

But in order to use local internet marketing, you have to have a local internet…right? Some people are snickering here, because of course there’s no such thing as a local internet — or is there? No, no there’s not; but there’s something close: there’s a way to make a search engine only pay attention to the places near you. All you have to do is add an unambiguous location name to each of your small business’ SEO keywords.

The key here is “unambiguous” — unfortunately, if you’re a vehicle wrecker working in Toledo, Washington, you’re not going to be able use keywords like “scrap yard Toledo”, because there’s a much more famous Toledo that has wreckers that have that particular keyword under lockdown. You’ll have to either use “scrap yard Toledo WA” or even go a bit out of the way and use “scrap yard Chehalis”. (“scrap yard Castle Rock” is messed up because of the larger Castle Rock, Colorado!)

Once you’ve figured how to explain where you are to Google in a way that won’t confuse the poor titanic computational interface, you can get your SEO team to start the process of getting those newly-localized keywords linked to your landing pages. That part works just exactly like world-wide search engine optimization — the process is identical, just the keywords are different.

So there might not actually be anything called a ‘local internet’, but there’s certainly a way to put strict limits on what part of the broad Internet that a search engine pays attention

Big Corporate vs. Small Business SEO: Money Changes Everything

There’s no doubt that SEO works wonders for large companies. You only have to type in some big broad brash search terms into Google to find that out. Type in the most popular toy into a search engine today, and you can guarantee that you are going to return some results from some of the biggest stores in the world. Of course, many of these companies have a head start – Google already know they are important, so give them credence even before their multi-million dollar SEO campaign has begun.

We know that these huge companies spend huge amounts of money on their SEO, and this of course means that it can be impossible to compete at times, but that doesn’t mean there’s no place for Small Business SEO. If you enlist the help of an SEO company you don’t have to have a huge budget to make a difference to the way your business operates. A few small changes to the structure of your page can often have huge results, and that’s before you even consider the possible effects of viral campaigns, ethical link building efforts and some fresh and relevant content on your blog site.

Smaller companies often choose to focus on Local Internet Marketing because they feel that they have a better chance of competing, and this is often the case. While the major corporations are likely to dominate the search listings for big national phrases, if someone is searching for a product in their local area, they are just as likely to want to go to a smaller store, which means Google is just as likely to want them to find a local store through their search. The important thing is to make sure that it is your store that is found!
A lot of large businesses are juggernauts, and there’s no stopping them, but as a small business, you don’t have to stop them to find success. A good SEO agency will find areas of the market that you can improve in through Organic SEO techniques, and will implement these to help you to become a stronger and more financially viable company. It doesn’t mean that you are going to be playing with the big boys, but increasing profits and traffic should be eminently possible.

Mobile Website Design: The Killer App

Millions of people around the world are addicted to apps. Around the office, every time a sweet new app is discovered, it spreads like wildfire through the personnel. And we can’t count the number of times that a owner who was visiting for some small business SEO reason or other lamented the fact that it’s not really reasonable to create an app just for his business.

“But wait,” we tell him, “that’s not the case! We can create an app for your business…kinda!”

Generally, small business apps are kind of…silly…all things considered. But there’s one thing that every small business interested in creating a mobile presence for themselves can easily do: get a mobile website designed for their business. A mobile website is essentially a stripped-down version of your current website built with a few rules in mind.

It has to load fast.
People on mobile devices have bandwidth limitations, and they’re not any more patient than people on desktops — if your mobile site takes more than two seconds to load, you’ve lost them.

It has to do what they want, up front, with no bull.
Imagine climbing a set of stairs with a five year old prancing around your feet, a bag of groceries in your arms, trying to navigate a website with one thumb while you hold your iPhone in the fingers of that hand. Consider that normal for mobile browsers, and let them instantly assess your site and do what they want to do with that one thumb while they use half of their attention to avoid the five year old.

It has to link to, but not itself contain, more information and other relevant actions.
For those mobile browsers that need more than just a call to action — say, the ones that are on a three-hour bus ride and want to learn about your company along the way — all of your mobile pages should link (through footers to keep the links out of the way) to the same kinds of informational pages that your normal website does — Services, Solutions, and so on.

By putting together a proper mobile website like this, you can “mobilify” your business — it’s the closes thing that most of us will ever get to having our own killer app.

Small Business SEO And The Art of the ‘Service’ Page

Small business SEO is a fairly straightforward affair as far as SEO is concerned. You have a page, you have some keywords you’ve researched, and you optimize the page so that it ranks well for those keywords. Everyone’s pretty familiar with the first step — but what do you do when you’ve optimized for all of the keywords you can reasonably fit on your landing page?

You have to make another page, naturally. Many SEO companies will develop a specific landing page just to fit some new keywords on, but that’s inefficient and can actually penalize your page if Google decides that your ‘spare’ landing pages are low-quality or otherwise detract from the rest of your site.

Instead, we encourage small businesses to develop their ‘services’ page into a landing page. The services page is the second page seen by most surfers — they land on your landing site, they’re not quite ready to buy yet, so they look for more information. The services page is the natural selection. But there’s no particular reason you shouldn’t be promoting your services page as though it was a landing page.

Consider: the services page is where surfers go to lean about your product. That’s what your landing page is basically intended to do as well, right? Also, your services page had better have a strong call-to-action on it (just like your landing page), or you’ll lose out on people who are on the verge of a buying decision once they read about how awesome your services are.

In fact, in almost every way, your services page acts like a selling page — it just doesn’t have to have the big shiny banner and other niceties that a “normal” landing page does. It’s an optimal opportunity to expand the keywords you’re pursuing with your website’s SEO while offering your surfers a ‘shortcut’ to what they consider the important part: the answer to the classic buyer’s question “What’s in it for me?”

Can Small Business SEO be Affordable SEO?

For most of America’s small businesses, SEO is one of the last things on their mind. Most businesses still don’t have a website, and those that do think of their websites as a nominal web presence — they have it because they’re supposed to, not because it’s part of their marketing plan. If they understood how effective and affordable SEO could be, they might be singing a different tune.

Putting together a killer webpage isn’t actually all that difficult. The chief thing to recognize is that, unless you’re already an expert in HTML, Flash, Cascading Style Sheets, and graphics design, you don’t want to do it yourself. You need someone who does professional business websites for a living — if you’ve ever visited a small business website and recognized the web styles of the late nineties in action, you know why.

That means that before you even worry about SEO, the money starts to flow. But the best website in the world is just a placeholder without traffic — and that’s what SEO is for. So you spend more money on SEO.

At that point, a dichotomy emerges: there are those websites that will simply never pay for themselves, because they’re not written in a way that drives customers to spend money online or drive them to walk through your front door — and then there are websites that successfully make money The definition of affordable morphs, at that point, from a perspective of “how much of my budget can I afford to spend on this” to a perspective of “is this bringing in more than it costs?”.

If you’re a small business, you can make money from your website in several ways. You can sell things directly from your site. You can offer coupons that people can print off and bring in. You can even offer emailed newsletters that tell subscribers all the reasons why they should come into your store week after week. The options are limited by your imagination and your budget — there’s no reason why any business should ever have a website that isn’t making money.

If the combination of website+SEO is making money every month, then your SEO is affordable, end of story. You might find a more cost-effective deal elsewhere if you poke around (it’s actually less likely than it might seem), but as long as the bottom line is net-black, congratulations — you’ve built a website that’s good for your business! Keep it growing and watch the profits improve.

The Cutting Edge of Small Business SEO: Going Social

Small business SEO hasn’t changed a whole lot in the past few years. You get your small business website, you find some decent keywords with good traffic, and you localize them by adding a word or two describing the location the business is in. People search for the keywords with the town name attached, they find the small business website, and they know where to go to get what they need. Simple as pie.

But as social media like Facebook, Twitter, and the like have began to hold massive sway over the Internet, small businesses started realizing that people were making serious money by gathering followers and pointing them toward their stores. As some were wildly successful with this, SEO companies started to take notice. Today, the cutting edge of small business SEO has less to do with keywords and backlinks (though both are still critically important), and more to do with going social.

So how does an SEO company drive social networking through a website? There are a few ways. The most obvious is setting up social accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, MySpace, and a half-dozen other major social networks. Then, you simply start telling people about those accounts. If they like what you do, they’ll Like, +1, Retweet, and otherwise start spreading the word about you.

But that’s just the beginning. There are hundreds of social resources on the Internet, from the obvious social networks to secondary areas like social bookmarking, Web 2.0 properties with their built-in social nature, and video marketing on sites with social elements. The more places your company and product show up, the more you’ll have the opportunity to be judged by the masses.

Assuming your business model revolves around producing a quality product and having excellent customer service (it should) and you find someone to market for you that has a bit of pizzazz, you should be able to do well in the social market — and for a small business, that kind of social proof is today’s equivalent of the all-star-athlete endorsement of yesteryear.

How Will Secure Search Change Small Business SEO?

Google has started redirecting people who log into their Google accounts before searching to a new, more secure form of Google search. The difference is a small as an s: it’s https://www.google.com instead of http://www.google.com — but the effects the change has on the searching process are profound to everything except the searcher.

If you run a search on the new secure Google, you won’t notice any difference at all — but the owners and users of first- and third-party applications ranging from Google Analytics to Market Samurai will. Those applications take information from Google’s database of searches and use them to tell various people about your Google searches. The new secure search prevents those applications from ever getting your data.

If you’ve got Analytics, for example, and someone uses Google to get to your site, you’ll learn that they did so — but you won’t get to see what search term they used to get there. If you use Market Samurai, you won’t see the missing data, but the data that you don’t see will be incomplete — because whatever small percentage of people that are using the secure search don’t have their data counted by MSam’s keyword research module.

So what does this have to do with small business SEO? Pretty simple: even if all your doing is basic local internet marketing, you still need to know which keywords to target. As secure searches become more and more common (and Google has said outright that this is one of their goals!), obtaining the information you need to properly target keywords is going to get more and more difficult.

That said, this isn’t something that should be blown out of proportion. To a degree, local internet marketing isn’t ever that hard — if you sell martial arts supplies to a small down like Aptos, CA, the keywords “sparring equipment Aptos” or “Aptos ninja gear” are always going to be safe bets. It’s only for the long-tail keywords, particularly pay-per-click marketing long-tail keywords, that will really suffer — making PPC an even worse bet for small businesses than it is today.