We wanted to share some basic tips that have helped us regarding search engine optimization, or SEO. Search traffic on the web is very attractive to businesses of all sizes for many reasons. But perhaps the biggest is that search traffic is “free” traffic, you don’t have to pay for directly, like you do other channels such as PPC, display ads, public relations and other channels.
Here are 5 important SEO tips for small businesses.
1) Be realistic. For example, if you’re a merchant who sells previously-owned vehicles, there is almost zero chance you’re going to rank first for the search term “Used Ford Trucks.” Not unless you spend years and years investing your time and efforts in making this happen. And even then you’ll bump up against much larger operations who have also spent years and years targeting the same term. The word “free” as it pertains to SEO traffic is in inverted quotes because there is the sunk cost of investing your time creating all the content and getting all those links.
2) Target mid-tail terms. You’ve possibly heard of the long tail by now; it basically means scooping up many of the searches that no one else is ranking for. For example, if you can finish first for “Best Place to Find Inexpensive Ford Pickups in Boise, Idaho with Bad Credit” — great! That’s likely one more person on your site every day. But only one. Time would likely be better spent going after a mid-tail term like “Used Ford Trucks in Boise Idaho.” Ranking first on this term could bring you 25 visits every day; this is substantially more efficient than trying to rank first on 25 different long-tail searches.
3) Call in favors. It’s okay to admit you have web friends. Ask your network to “like” your company page on Facebook, to follow you on Twitter and to link to your site from their blogs. Social signals are now huge when it comes to SEO; in fact you should view your social media strategy and SEO plan to be one in the same to drive organic traffic to your site.
4) Write good stuff. Everyone knows crappy SEO content when they see it — such articles are written for bots, not humans. Google and Bing are really cracking down on this low-level content, and the best thing you can do is to create content pieces that people will share. Adding social media share buttons with also helps this process. We recommend Twitter and Facebook buttons as the standard, while also including budding platforms like LinkedIn and Pinterest.
5) Be patient. SEO channels aren’t built in a day. If and when you start working on it you should be committed for the long haul. We’re talking years, not months or weeks. Because of the quality and quantity of traffic at stake, SEO is extremely competitive in almost every single vertical imaginable.