When it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) most small businesses are missing the boat altogether; either they don’t know what this marketing channel can do for their business or they misunderstand how SEO works.
First of all, any small business should capitalize on local search by claiming and enhancing their profile on all the major local listings/review sites. To check whether your business has optimized local listing you can use the free tool provided by GetListed.org. Then, be sure to claim and update all of your business listings and encourage your customers to review you on whichever of the major listings/reviews/social media sites they frequent (Google, Bing, Yelp, Facebook, etc.). “Social mentions” have become a major component of search algorithms in recent years, so getting your customers to engage and review your business is increasingly important in your online business presence.
Next, understand how SEO works. Google’s search algorithm originally gave the most importance to how many “inbound” links your web site had from other web sites. This has changed significantly over the last decade and the algorithm now looks at over 200 “signals” to determine search results for any given query, but inbound links are still a significant factor. But be wary; SEO firms that promise 100s or 1000s of links and guaranteeing you’ll be number 1 for your chose queries are probably looking to rip you off.
Links from low-quality “link farms”, “content farms” and/or links that are bought not only under deliver, they may even get your web site banned from search engines. Likewise, link exchanges (where you and a business partner or other web site agree to link to each other’s site) won’t help much either. “Natural” links are the best (another web site sees something of interest on your site and links to it). This is why adding unique, valuable content to your web site on a regular basis is critical. Ignoring your 10 page web site once it launches is a sure way NOT to get any significant traffic to your website.
Guest posting on various Blogs and websites can also be a good strategy as long as you find high quality sites on which to publish in return for anchor text links! Seek out local newspapers and other online publications that might review your business or have an interest in interviewing you for stories. Just because stories are published online instead of in print doesn’t mean they have any less value; creating buzz is still the best form of advertising any business can get!
Do research your competitors but don’t just copy what they do; your local online marketing strategy must be unique and reflect the value your business brings to the market in order to have real, lasting value. Start a monthly email newsletter, post interesting, useful information on your own Blog, Facebook page, Twitter, etc. You can also offer customers and prospects specials on Groupon, Facebook, Google Places, etc.