Small Business SEO Marketing Services - I have been providing web development, search engine optimization and search engine marketing services for small businesses for several years. While I am convinced that search engine marketing is the most effective form of advertising in the history of mankind for several reasons, it is still an everyday struggle to explain to some prospective and/or skeptical clients the justification for why this is the case. The majority of people that are skeptical of SEO or SEM services is because they got burned multiple times by incompetent so-called SEOs peddling their “search engine submission” services and “guaranteed click packages” on Google AdWords (I’m looking at you YellowPages.com!) which produce absolutely zero results. I know I am good at what I do because I have the results to back it up, but I am going to let you in on a secret – SEO is not rocket science! There are no hidden magic tricks to get you ranked at the top of the Google and there are no backroom deals to be made with Google employees to get you ranked #1. Even though I have been doing this for years, I did not take any MBA-level classes or receive any prestigious awards for groundbreaking revelations in the search engine marketing industry. Everything I know is a result of reading lots of SEO books, articles, forums and blog posts and then running my own trial and error experiments. I stuck with what worked, and ditched the things that turned out to be outdated or just outright false. All this being said, a small business owner that is at least somewhat web savvy can have a lot of success with SEO without getting burned by snake oil salesman or paying out the nose for a qualified professional. Here are a few of my tips for succeeding at small business SEO marketing:
1. Create a website in WordPress – Simply put, WordPress is my favorite web publishing platform. Even though it was originally created to be blog software, it has evolved to become my top choice to use as a simple Content Management System (CMS) for a lot of my small business clients. I have worked with several other CMS platforms such as Joomla, Drupal, MODx, Expression Engine, etc. and WordPress continues to be my favorite. Once it is installed, you can manage all of the content on the site within a WYSIWIG dashboard so you don’t need to know any HTML or buy any expensive web editing software like Dreamweaver.
2. Add SEO Plugins - While WordPress continues to improve the SEO features inherent in the system with each and every update, there are several plugins that help with SEO. I used to be a fan of All-in-one-SEO Pack by now my favorite is WordPress SEO by Yoast.
3. Write content on your site - If you have installed a WordPress blog and added SEO plugins, you are going to be better off than 90% of other websites on the web. Now all you need to do is constantly write articles, blog posts, news releases, etc. about your company, industry trends, etc. For example, if you just started a Chiropractor business in Chicago, you would write about things related to Chiropractors and/or things related to businesses in Chicago. If your target audience is located in Chicago, then this is critical.
4. Add a Location page on your website - If you run a small business with an actual brick and mortar location, make sure to add a page to your website that is dedicated to just information about where your company is located, the business hours, a phone number, an email address and a contact form. Not only is going to be one of the most popular pages on your website for your customers, but the search engines love these pages for ranking local businesses in their rankings.
5. Claim your local business listings - If you run a small business that caters to a local audience, it is absolutely critical to claim your Google Places listing as well as your local business listings on other sites like Bing and Yahoo. Check out http://getlisted.org for all of the other sites.
6. Join social media sites – Especially Facebook and Twitter. Those two sites are by far the largest so I recommend starting with them. Get involved with the people in your industry and the people that live in your target market. All that it takes is to become an active participant and let your potential customers become aware that your business is around, so don’t worry about trying to be a pushy salesman or else you run the risk of scaring everybody away.
I know these 6 tips may seem a little vague but to be honest, if you just do these six steps, I guarantee you will be better off than 99% of your competition (unless you are in a crazy competitive industry like credit cards or mortgages!). If you want any additional help, feel free to contact me.
I do a lot of SEO consulting for local businesses and as search engines are placing more and more importance on their respective local products and integrating them into the SERPs, it is critical to rank in the local listings, such as in Google Places. I attended an SEOmoz mozinar today about tips for ranking well in Google Places, and here is a list of some tips for optimizing and ranking well in Google Places:
1. Quantity of reviews more important than best reviews. When it comes to getting your business listed in the top results on Google Places, it is better to have 10 3-star reviews than 4 5-star reviews.
2. Optimize business names and titles. This means if your business name is called “New York Physical Training”, use that as your Google Places listing name rather than “NY PT, LLC”
3. Customize and complete every detail on your Google Places listing. For example, make sure to include your hours of operation, locations, phone numbers, etc.
4. Get Listed Everywhere! – The more places your site is listed for user reviews and ratings, the better. Here is a great link for places to get listed on – http://getlisted.org/resources/local-search-data-providers.aspx.
5. Be Consistent – Make sure you use the same exact business name, mailing address, phone number, and category on every single site you get listed on. This not only helps eliminate confusion for users, but it helps Google Places determine that all of your listings are actually the same business.
6. Subtly encourage user reviews – And perhaps more importantly, make sure they are actual honest reviews from real customers. You will be found out for posting fake reviews on websites and the negative backlash will be severe!
7. Use your local phone number instead of a toll free 1-800 number. It’s fine if you have a 1-800 number, but for ranking in Google Places, use your local number because after all, you are trying to rank in the local listings.
More and more people are using search engines to find local businesses. If you’re not being found in these local searches, your competitor is.
Here’s a nice list of business portals and directories which are essential to to your local search marketing efforts : http://www.ecommerceoptimization.com/local-business-listing-guide/