Small Business SEO & Marketing
There are no big secrets to Search Engine Optimization any more. While Google’s algorithm may still be a big secret, the trick to getting traffic is no longer that big of a mystery. Optimization standards for websites are so uniform that as long as you’ve worked with a reputable designer or followed Google’s SEO starter guide you’re going to have a reasonable foundation to begin getting traffic to your site.
The trick in today’s world is identifying your company’s best available resources to leverage web applications and gain virtual real estate. Many small businesses lack the financial resources to hire marketing firms, web design firms, or to maintain an IT department. Small business owners must identify resources within their companies to bolster their web presence.
Foundation: current website design. If your company has an outdated website then your first priority should be getting it updated. Search engines look for sites that meet current optimization standards and give them priority; these standards have changed dramatically in the last few years so if you don’t have staff who keep abreast of the standards, hiring a web design firm may be your best choice.
Content & Maintenance: Many companies, like 5 Web Labs, offer a content management system for their clients. We offer options based on your level of expertise. If you or your staff members are competent and have time to commit to developing content and keeping it current then a content management system may be a very good choice for you. If you don’t have staff who can manage this then hiring a web design team to do more up front optimization may be the best choice.
Blogging: possibly the single most valuable thing a small business can do to bolster their web presence and search results. However, it’s worth taking the time to identify if your team has the time and energy to commit to this endeavor. A blog when done “right” should have posts with informative content posted on a regular and predictable basis. If you don’t have resources to generate polished content regularly then it’s probably not worth investing in creating a blog. However, if you can churn out content that will be valuable to your clientele then a blog will serve you well.
Social Media: If your staff are spending their time on social media sites anyway then maybe it’s time you wrote a policy and encouraged them to push your products and engage with clients more through social media. Social media is still a fickle beast though. While sharing viral videos and commenting on trending topics may push your brand around it’s not necessarily going to generate a clear ROI or any trackable conversions. However, if your are consistently posting informative articles or links to resources that your clients appreciate and use then you will at the least be consistently extending your brand. The tricks for converting your followers into your customers, however, may vary wildly between types of businesses.
Depending on your promotional resources and reach, what probably works better than anything to increase engagement, at least temporarily, is contests. Promoting hashtags for specific contests can really get people fired up to share images or testimonies about their experience with your business. If you have the staffing to manage contests and do some tracking then using hashtags for online contests could be great for branding and fun for the clientele.
The key for owner/managers of small businesses is identifying which of the many online applications are going to complement your business model. For some a simple website may be more than enough to generate some traffic and rise to the top, particularly in small towns. However, if the pool is bigger or the competition is high then allocating some of your financial or staffing resources to improving or maintaining a web presence could be the most important marketing choice you ever make.