Search Engine Optimization for Small Businesses
Search engine optimization for small businesses can really be complicated if you let it get out of perspective. Learning how to compete with the tough online competition is crucial in order to get the most from your web presence. However, the fact is, with a few simple steps, a well thought out game plan, and the proper execution, you’re website will be bringing you more and more traffic every month, and your ROI will be out of this world! Many small businesses leave all of this potential online marketing power on the table because they simply don’t know how to utilize it, so this is the first article in a series that we will be doing on small business SEO, so that we can help empower small businesses on the web.
In real estate it’s ‘if you build it they will come’, but on the internet it’s just the opposite. This is also why it’s so hard for so many small business owners to get the true potential out of their websites. As a small business owner, I understand their pain. For many small businesses it’s tough to compete with the big budget major corporations out there both online, and offline. Thankfully however, with smart search engine optimization, any business can compete. On the web, if you build it, you must make them come, and to do that, they have to be able to find your site. This is the whole premise behind SEO.
Why Does it Even Matter?
The case for small businesses to create a web presence only continues to be presented with more and more proof that it is a must. Over 75% of consumers will research a company online before doing business with them in person. Whether you are an auto mechanic, a real estate agent, hairstylist, or florist, you have to have a solid web presence if you want to be able to continue to compete in today’s world. Most people have a couple old phone books laying around that never got thrown out. If you do, take a look at a phone book that is 2-3 years old, even 1 year old. You ‘ll notice that they shrink year, after year, after year. Why is this? With the evolution of smart phones, mobile internet, a most importantly Google, it simply takes more time to locate a phone book, search for the category, and select a listing. In less than 20 seconds, Google will give me a list of local florists and links to their website so that I can check them out before I visit their shop, or buy online. The current generation of consumers simply are not looking in the phone book. This is why small business search engine optimization matters so much these days.
SEO Basics for Small Businesses
For those who are starting from square one, search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of optimizing your website to appear at the top of search engine results when someone searches for a term related to your website. It can get a lot more complicated than that but, we’re trying to speak English here. For any given search term search on Google, there will likely be over1 Million search results returned. For example, at the time of this writing, a Google search for ‘car stereos’ returned 1,420,000 results. So here’s the bad news first. If you own a local car audio shop, the chances of you ranking up highly for this term isn’t very high. You’d have to beat out several major car stereo manufacturers, and major retailers such as Best Buy, or Amazon who have a crazy number of back links pointing to there sites (more on why this matters later).
So what’s the good news? The good news is that you can still compete. You do this by optimizing your website for long-tail keywords, and local keywords. As a said before a simple search for car stereo returns 1,420,000 results. Now, we add a local qualifier to our keyword and search ‘car stereo Dayton’. Now that we’ve added our local qualifier, the number of results dropped drastically. Google now returns only 121,000 results. For local car stereo shop, this allows them to more easily compete for searches in their area. As Google quickly replaces the phone book, the need for local business to show up on the first page when someone searches for a local florist, mechanic, or any other local business. So we can see the importance of optimizing your site for your locale, but what if you’re a small business operating nationally via the internet, but you still don’t have the marketing dollars to inundate the web with pay-per-click ads? This is the part where long tail keywords become your best friend.
Long tail keywords target small market, less searched keywords such as, ‘Jeep Grand Cherokee parts’, versus ‘jeep parts’. A current search for ‘jeep parts’ returned over 4 Million results whereas, a search for ‘Jeep Grand Cherokee parts’ returns under 2 Million. We’re already narrowing down the competition. Now we need to get even smarter. Instead of trying to rank your Jeep auto parts website for the term ‘Jeep auto parts’ initially, focus on ranking your product pages for their relevant keywords. A search for ’1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee spark plug wires’ returned only 26,000 results. Now you’re pulling in qualified traffic that is absolutely looking for your specific product. This not only increases the chances of someone finding your website, but more importantly, it increases the odds of you converting that visitor into a customer.
In the upcoming articles in this series on small business search engine optimization, we’ll dive deeper into the specific aspects and techniques that you need to get your site ranked higher, and your traffic increased.