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Susan Payton: The Small Business and The Mystery of SEO

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Search marketing has grown in popularity as online search continues to evolve from a novelty to a standard feature in our everyday lives.

Almost every business in the country, big or small and regardless of industry, has some kind of web presence, and everybody is competing for only a handful of positions at the top of search-engine results pages.

Research suggests that 93% of people looking for services and products do so using a search engine, and your business being positioned as a result of this search is the ultimate goal of SEO. When somebody does a search on a certain topic and your website comes up at the top of the results page, you can be certain that you will be getting plenty of targeted traffic to your website.

So far, so good. But where do you start?

Many small business owners find the idea of SEO daunting or even intimidating. Yes, SEO is costly, and there is a lot to it. Yes, you will need to invest time and a little bit of money into it. Nevertheless, SEO success for small businesses is achievable, and here’s how:

#1 Read

Do your homework and start reading about SEO. You will be surprised how easy it is to digest the information. This guide is a great place to start, and it will absolutely help you wrap your head around SEO. But don’t limit yourself. Have a look at other resources too. There are literally millions of articles out there that are jammed-packed with useful tips.

#2 Local Search

A good place to start your SEO efforts is getting your business on the map. Optimizing for local search is a fantastic way to reach consumers and get traffic to your site.

Claim your spot on Google places.  Let’s say that you are a plumber. When somebody looks for a plumber in your area, you would want your business to show for that query. Google places is the feature that will help you position yourself on the map.

Encourage people to review your business and services. The more positive the reviews, the better your chances of attracting customers.

#3 Find your niche

One of the best things you can do as a small business is give yourself a niche focus. Instinctively, you might think that the better option for search visibility is to cover as many areas of expertise as possible.

Perform keyword research and get a better understanding of what particular phrases people use to find your products or services using Google’s Keyword Tool. Think you will be able to rank for broad generic terms which receive thousands of monthly searches? Think again.

When it comes to SEO success, more often than not the key is to be as specific and laser focused as possible. Using the keyword tool can bring up some promising niche areas for you to concentrate within. Try to target in your business niche and area, i.e. “mobile beautician London”. This will yield better results and have better chances of reaching the first page due to lower competition than a broader search.

When it comes to focus, remember the saying, “Chase two rabbits and you will lose both of them.”

#4 Awesome content

Content is a game-changer in the SEO world. It could either make it or break it for you and your business. Content is where you will position your keywords, and content is also what will drive visitors to your website and compel them to come again.

Most business websites nowadays have blogs. Do you know why? Because it is via blog posts that companies leverage the power of content for their businesses. Write interesting and engaging content around your product, your service, your business and your industry.

Good content shouldn’t be overly promotional, but rather helpful and informative.

One mistake I see people make time and time again is focusing too much on keywords. Since the dawn of online search, marketers have abused keywords in an ill-considered effort to manipulate the search engines’ algorithms.

Jamming your content with keywords will almost certainly result in a penalty. Instead, focus on content in which visitors would enjoy reading.

#5 Get Social

Another great way to kickstart an SEO campaign is to leverage social media. Social media reputation is now an important factor of the SEO equation. Similar to links, getting quality social shares is beneficial.

Remember that content we spoke about earlier? By sharing it on social media, you would expose your brand to many more potential customers and visitors. That’s why original and engaging content is so important.

Of course, there is so much more to SEO. But to start, you won’t need all the bells and whistles. Play around with keywords, start a blog and deliver consistent, informative and keyword-rich content. Create a social media community, and you will be making the first steps to SEO progress.

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