In an attempt to save money and perhaps cut a few corners, many small and local businesses found themselves floundering in a metaphorical pond without water wings and are only now able to start doggie paddling their way back towards dry land.
Common errors to learn from
There are a series of errors businesses have made in an attempt to rise in the SERPS, some of which are still being made. Things like purchasing a ton of keyword domain names or purchasing links can be extremely damaging. A legitimate link building company will never offer a set amount of links for a price. Additionally, spamming links on forums, poster boards and blog comments is practically just as bad and offers no value. Any content published on behalf of your company must serve a larger purpose than garnering a link. It has to offer the general public something of value, and if it doesn’t it won’t work for you, in the long run it will actually do quite the opposite.
Give Google what it wants
Ever hear the saying, ‘happy wife, happy life’? In this situation, think of Google as your wife. Search engines want to see natural and organic growth. One of the best methods to get this kind of growth is by utilizing blog posts. If a post is relevant and mentions your product, blog or business this results in a natural and quality link back to you.
Another way to direct users to your site is by optimizing your site for long tail keyword searches and local optimization. You want to help searchers find your site based on the terms they’re searching because it’s truly relevant to them. You can do this with a company blog, a solid social media presence and by re-vamping your website for local and mobile search.
Create (relevant) content
Sometimes referred to as content marketing, blogs can be a great tool for small and medium businesses as long as the blog content is unique and shareable content, relevant to your customers. However, be critical of guest bloggers and only allow content on your blog that offers a clear value to your customers or readership.
Write posts for your customers or potential clients and not other people in your industry. Target the people you want visiting your site and buying your products. Share the content on your Google+ page, Twitter and Facebook and pose questions to your audience to encourage them to engage with your articles. Make your blog easy to access by including links to it prominently on your social media sites and if you’re struggling to attract an audience, consider asking clients to guest post. If they are published on your site, chances are they will share their work with their own social circles as well.
Help people find your site
Google’s new algorithm favors long tail keyword search and as always in centered around providing searchers with accurate results based on their query and physical location. If you haven’t optimized your site for local search you’re already behind the game. NAP (name, address and phone number) are crucial for local results. It should be included on all social sites and every page of your website (the footer is a good location for this information). For Google to identify your information it’s important to display it in the exact same format across all platforms. If you abbreviate the street on one, make sure it’s uniform on all pages, this makes it easier for spiders to associate the pages and sites with one another.
Although it is impossible to get inside the Google mindset, based on a talk given by Matt Cutts at Pubcon last week in Vegas if your site isn’t being updated for mobile users this is going to hurt you in the relatively near future. Fast load times, auto fill web forms, avoiding flash, and making information easy to access is going to make a huge difference in your future rankings and site traffic.
In-house or outsourced SEO?
Often smaller and medium sized businesses with limited resources have a hard time deciding if their SEO should be handled in-house or outsourced. There is no hard and fast answer, but often a combination of the two can help boost a company’s SERPS. If your business is to the point where it is struggling to drive traffic or increase revenue from the company blog or SEO campaign it could be time to consider hiring a link building company.
For businesses that have hired outside help there are two main reasons why they haven’t seen lucrative results.
1. You didn’t hire the right SEO company to meet your needs
2. There was poor implementation of SEO in-house and/or your web design isn’t doing you any favors
SEO is an investment, and like any investment—results will not happen overnight—but before hiring a SEO company there’s a few indicators to take into consideration and help you hire a quality firm.
How to find a quality link building company
Next, ask what they can do for you. Look for a company that will check your site for technical issues, make recommendations about current content and work on starting a content strategy for you in addition to building quality links on relevant directories and resource pages.
A company that will garner quality links for you won’t promise a set amount of links a month, it’s not possible. Additionally, you want to hire a firm that will use a variety of SEO practices to complete a well-rounded SEO approach. This includes white-hat links, content marketing and legitimate directory listing. And finally, it will be in your best interest to hire a link building firm that employs people with excellent writing abilities in your desired target language so they can connect well with your target audience.
Regardless of whether you decide in-house, outsourced or a mix of SEO is best for your specific needs, SEO is essential to grow a company successfully. However, don’t lose sight of the bread and butter of your business while trying to expand via online marketing. Your clients are essential to the well-being of your company and the product and content you offer them should always be a priority. The value offered to customers by a website, blog or business is paramount; everything else is the icing on the cake. If your business isn’t doing as well as you’d like online, have you considered revisiting your online marketing strategy?
Amy Merrill is a writer working for Page One Power, an SEO firm based in Boise, Idaho. Amy has written extensively about SEO practices, online marketing and blog optimization and works on her novel and a number of blogs in her free time. You can connect with Amy through Google+.