6 Rules for Best Practices in SEO for Small Business
SEO continues to evolve as top search engines seek to make the user experience easier, faster and more credible. To help you achieve greater success with your investment, here are some general “Rules to Follow” to get the most from your SEO investment.
Rule 1: Investing in a Well-Developed Website Upfront is Investing in the Foundation for Success.
There are two common misconceptions I encounter with small business owners and their perspective value of their website.
- I just need something to tell people how to reach me – like an online business card.
- I can build my own website cheaper with XYZ and it will be fine.
Unfortunately, what this type of personality is missing is that literally everything related to digital marketing they’ll try to do down the road should be tied to their website, and without a solid foundation in this area, the rest of their digital marketing efforts will cost more and perform less.
For those looking to save money, please remember that your time is valuable and that unless you’re well skilled in development or web design, you’re simply adding to the potential problem. Here’s another way to look at this…
How much would you expect to pay for the best, well-trained version of yourself that works 24/7/365 as a customer service ninja and collects data on every visitor that comes to your website? Now if you are thinking that’s you, are you okay with “free or a fraction of what you’re worth?” Probably not. But a really good web developer who understands the marketing process can create for you a digital employee that can save you efforts in other areas of your business. What may be an investment now, will likely save you a ton of money down the road.
Good web development doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but before you invest time or money speaking with anyone (web developer or digital marketer) I recommend speaking with a Digital Strategist. A Digital Strategist understands how all of the online tools work together and can direct you with priorities that make sense for your brand and budget so you can “earn as you grow”.
Rule 2: Start Slow with Keywords
Ad programs are built in a way that allows them to track the usage of search terms, as well as the number of clicks they receive. After your ad begins to run, Google AdWords will make “suggestions” of keywords that can be easily added to your campaign. If you are thinking that your budget will gradually carry you through the entire month, creating a slow-drip of new business, then I strongly recommend avoiding the temptation to begin adding all kinds of keywords suggested by Google. Why?
Adding more keywords may seem logical and somewhat exciting; especially if a program like Google suggests it. But adding too many keywords without also increasing your budget may set you up for failure.
The more keywords you use, the faster you will burn through your advertising budget. Without money to spend, your ad will stop showing altogether. To enjoy lucrative harvest from your ad budget, I personally recommend sticking to just a few keywords to start, then better manage/monitor the performance of your ad. This allows you to better follow the use of the ad and the exact keywords that are working on helping capture and convert leads. It also allows you to target identifying negative keywords, or make improvements in your sales process without just blowing away your ad spend without benefit.
Rule 3: Claim Your Local Listings, But Start Where You Know You Can Get Clients and Where You Can Manage Your Brand
There are literally thousands of directory programs available online. Adding your listing to these directories could take a person an enormous amount of time to do manually. Therefore, some SEO experts use programs that will “update your listing across all of these platforms” and charge you substantially for the cost to maintain this service. However, before doing so, you should really ask two questions:
- Do you really need to be everywhere? Again, it may sound like a great idea to have your company information in few thousand directory listings, because it can create a backlink to your website – which is good, but you have to think of where these directories are and how much of your ideal market is really using them. With search engines continually refining their programs with a user-first perspective, there is great value in taking exploring your brand from standing in the user’s shoes. In this case, perhaps even how it might be perceived by the company it keeps online. Aligning your brand with a credible site has greater user impact than the fraction of credibility your site might get for the backlink. You are always better to focus upon helping your customers understand why you’re better than the competition who shows up in the local search with you, than be listed in a thousand directories they may never use.
- Are these sites truly credible? Maybe at one time, but many of these sites were created years ago from random data sources that are now outdated. Those communities that lack proper management are often used to harvest information for SCAMS. Many have wrong information – which some SEO providers do offer to help fix if yours is wrong, but depending on the nature of your business, opening up your brand to these sites that are not managed well, can actually put your company at greater risk as a target for SCAMS or hack attempts. Data management should be a priority for your business, and managing how your brand is handled by third-party companies should be on top of your list to minimize risks.
Rule#4: Be Cautious About Anyone Guaranteeing First Page Placement
Where I caution the average small business owner is when someone offers you this type of premium placement for a really inexpensive rate. I feel pretty confident in telling you that it may be less than a legit situation. Why? Their strategy tends to be ‘come in low and then when they have you hooked, keep you paying for mediocre results or ask for more money to get better placement’.
Even the most talented SEO professionals who have developed a solid strategy of being able to deliver fairly consistent placement in first page of the search results will also tell you – be cautious. First, SEO involves too many variables out of their control to be able to offer such a guarantee. While there is possibility to get on the first page, maintaining that placement can get expensive because it takes a unique focus of skills, tools, and dedicated time to retain that strategic placement.
Rule 5: A Digital Strategist Can Actually Save You Time and Make Your Advertising Investment More Profitable
Most people get impressed by the number of clicks an ad delivers to their website; however, when those are Empty Clicks, you’re losing money. An Empty Click is when someone clicks on your ad, goes to your website and fails to actually convert to a lead or sale. For most, it just becomes a number that your Ad Network or Marketer reports, but knowing how to convert those clicks to something more profitable is where Strategy comes into play.
A Strategist will help you determine a “process” through which you can measure the customer engagement, and give you more strategic insight on the decision process of your visitor based on their activity. This process is designed so you can focus upon improving their experience with your brand so you can make those interactions created through digital marketing investment more profitable.
Rule #6: Learn How To Set-up Your Pages Correctly Before Creating Content
Creating additional content for your website is really helpful for a variety of reasons. In addition to SEO, and having something to share on Social Media, it creates a way for people visiting your site to learn more about you, your company, and maybe even help them experience your brand personality to see how you are different from your competition. It also gives your website branches – like a tree – to reach new people in different ways based on the topics they are searching for. That said, if you are uncomfortable with writing, you can work with a good SEO trained copywriter to help you create content. They should know the specific techniques required to help search engines better categorize, deliver and display your content to the right audience. While there are some website tools that can help you with this process there is value in time spent working with someone talented in SEO.
My hope is that by sharing this information, that you can begin to take measures to expand and grow your business using the great tools available to you through the internet. To consult with me on ways to help you improve the performance or relationship with your current providers. The best way to contact me is through our Contact form or a DM through LinkedIn.
Until next time, “get out there and prosper!”
About the Author: Julia Eudy is an experienced Digital Strategist. Her 30+ years career expands sales, marketing, and education, and is infused by a hobby of analyzing behavioral traits related to the online buyer and a general curiosity about why people act the way they do. Reading and analyzing data from 20+ years of digital marketing campaigns has led to her success in developing marketing strategies that directly improve digital sales and rapidly grow your business.