Guest Post by Adam Stetzer
Yes, small business owner with a limited marketing budget, you do have to work smarter to make a splash with your online marketing campaigns.
But, it’s difficult to know where to focus your marketing resources to get the biggest SEO bang for your buck.
You definitely do not want to engage in the SEO tactics that make Google unhappy — and that list grows with each Google adjustment or update.
When you read articles about what you should be doing to promote your business, they’re usually geared toward businesses with large budgets and lots of resources.
So what can you do as a small business to improve your SEO, while staying within your limited budget?
These five steps provide a framework to help you stay focused and they do take into account the new rules of SEO as dictated by Google’s latest update, called “Penguin.”
1. Provide Quality Original Content
This seems like a no brainer but many SEO firms and do-it-yourselfers continue to put out completely useless gibberish. Why? Because it’s easy. Writing quality content takes thought, time and energy. But quality content is what Google (and the other search engines) love. Give it to them! The more relevant (we’ll get to that part in a minute) and original content you put out, the better.
If you don’t yet have a blog on your site, create one. You don’t have to write the Magna Carta or solve world hunger in your posts either. Just write and share your experience, expertise and thoughts about your industry. If you have an opinion that goes against the grain, put it out there.
Controversy attracts attention. Feature your products or services in videos. Have a page that features the most common questions you receive about your business or offerings. The more you have on your site, the more the search engines will catalog.
Visitors to your website who find valuable information are likely to link to it and share it with others, and that is what is known as natural link building.
Maybe you’ve heard that Google loves websites with quality content and natural links, and rewards them with higher search rankings? That is true now more than ever since the release of the Google Penguin Update.
2. Be Relevant
Don’t post content to simply have more content. Make sure it’s relevant to your industry and of interest to current and potential customers. Be true to who you are. Find the voice for your business and stick with it. People visit and return to your site because of your niche. Don’t over-extend your reach. Do what you do and do it well. And that applies to content you post on your site and elsewhere. The more relevant, interesting and unique your content, the more likely it is to be linked to and shared.
3. Strive for Quality Links
The more links you have to your site from other sites, the better. Those inbound links help boost your rankings, if they are from quality and relevant sites. Google knows the difference between quality links and those whose sole purpose is to link build. The Penguin Update made sure of that! Avoid those sites that do nothing more than attempt to manipulate rankings.
4. Choose Realistic Keyword Goals
If you are a local toy store in Albuquerque, it will be extremely difficult to rank on page one for the keyword “toys.” But you have a good chance for “toys Albuquerque” or the name of a specialty toy you carry. Do your homework and don’t throw good money and time after keywords on which you can’t compete with the big stores.
5. Link with Social Media
Social media platforms are free. And they are a great way for small businesses to build an online persona and strengthen their brands. They also allow you to share your original content and provide the potential for that content to be shared well beyond your current customer base. Although search engines are still figuring out exactly how much weight to place on social signals (or social media activity), they are a piece of the SEO puzzle. And simply taking the opportunity to be exposed to a wider audience via social media means that your original content can be seen, shared and linked to more.
Keep these guidelines in mind as you move forward with your online marketing campaigns and you should expect to see results. Not overnight, certainly! But in time, your search rankings will begin to move in the right direction...
About The Author:
Adam Stetzer, Ph.D. is the president, chief editor and co-founder of HubShout LLC, an SEO reseller and online marketing solutions firm providing industry-leading SEO software.
Adam has over fifteen years of experience with enterprise IT systems and has worked with large companies such as General Electric, Verizon, Ford, ChevronTexaco, and PepsiCola.