Search Engine Optimization (AKA SEO) has turned into a big business and a core component of digital marketing. It’s a difficult field for small businesses to break into; larger competitors have the advantages of brand recognition, lengthy history, and lavish budgets for online marketing. Though it’s challenging to establish your own online presence in an environment like this, it’s really not an option you can turn down these days.
Fortunately, you actually have allies in the form of the major search engines. Google and Bing don’t rank search results based on corporate revenues; all they care about is relevance. That means that the little guy still has a chance to play on a level playing field. Best of all, organic efforts to improve your search engine performance don’t have to cost you anything. We consulted with the SEO experts at DoubleSpark, and they suggested using these tips to make it easier for visitors (AKA potential customers) to find your website.
1) Don’t Be Afraid To Specialize
The more tightly-focused you make your website, the better your odds of scoring a high rank on the search engine results page. If you can narrow your efforts down to a very specific audience, you’ll find it a lot easier to become outstanding in that one field. If you’re a general contractor, for example, think about the types of construction that you do best. Maybe historic renovations are your specialty, or kitchen remodeling, or environmentally-friendly building. Make sure all of your marketing efforts (offline as well as online) are geared towards promoting your specialty. It’s easier to present yourself as the best in your field when you set clear limits on exactly what that field is.
2) Pick The Right Keywords
With a firm niche picked out, you can start generating keywords – that is, the most frequently-used searches that are relevant to your business – to feature on your website and your social media accounts. There are many tools available to you (e.g. Google Keyword Planner) that can help you determine which terms are frequently used in the search engines; these make ideal targets for your online marketing efforts.
3) Get Local
If your primary source of business is customers from your own community, you’ll find it much easier to localize all of your digital marketing efforts. Make sure every page on your site includes content that makes your location clear. Get involved with commercial associations and professional organizations in your community; your chamber of commerce is an excellent place to get started. Do everything you can to generate local press interest in your business; a few feature stories about your organization can produce a lot of new internet traffic if you use them properly.
4) Build Online Links
This is the internet version of the professional networking described above. In fact, many of the same community bonds you forge can be replicated online. Go one step further by reaching out to other sites that are popular in your niche. Getting a few links pointing towards your site from well-read blogs and popular sites can do a great deal for your own authority. The search engines will see plenty of backlinks as evidence that your site is respected and trusted.
5) Manage Your Business Information And Reviews
Today consumers use many different sites to research businesses and leave feedback for them. Establish profiles for your company on sites like Yelp, the Yellow Pages, and Google Maps. Verify that all of your contact information is presented consistently across the directories where it appears. Encourage your best customers to leave online reviews for you. Keep tabs on the reviews that get posted, and don’t be afraid to respond to negative feedback if you can help your customers in a productive and professional way.
6) Use Responsive Design
Today mobile devices actually execute more searches than desktop computers do. If your site is hard to use or unattractive when it’s accessed on a smartphone, it’s going to be operating at a severe disadvantage. Responsive design is the art of coding your site so that it can be used with equal effectiveness no matter what sort of hardware your visitors have. Responsive websites also tend to perform better with the search engines across the board. Making your site mobile-friendly is one of the most important things you can do in terms of “behind the scenes” technical optimization.
7) Start A Blog
Content is king in the modern search engine optimization game. Adding a blog is the perfect excuse to give your site a steady stream of regularly-updated content. Just put some effort into the content you create to ensure that it is both relevant to your niche and helpful to your visitors. You can use blog posts to deploy your chosen keywords and answer the most common questions you hear from your customers. A good blog establishes you as a trustworthy authority in the eyes of potential customers as well as the search engines.