SEO for Small Businesses: Fact versus fiction
Today we are debunking some common Search Engine Optimization (SEO) myths. If you are an entrepreneur, a solopreneur, a small business owner, or a marketing manager, and you are stepping into the realm of SEO, read on for some valuable small business SEO tips and frequently asked questions.
Myth #1: We don’t need SEO… when someone Google’s our small business, they find us!
Yes, you want to be found online.
Yes, you want to have a professional, branded website for your customers to find.
But, no, you haven’t cornered the market if your existing customers and people who have heard of you can find you online when they type in your business name.
One of the advantages to SEO is that you can attract and be found by potential customers who don’t know you even exist.
If I’m in the market for someone who makes unicorn cakes, but I’ve never heard of Unicorn Cake Makers, Inc (this is not a real business… but it should be!), then I will probably go to Google and search for what I’m looking for.
If I search for “custom cake baker in Kingston, NY”, will the Unicorn Cake Makers, Inc. show up in search results?
If they properly optimized their site, then the answer is, probably!
Search engine optimization for small businesses can be a crucial way to be found without spending loads of money (money you probably don’t have) on print or other traditional forms of advertising.
Myth #2: I learned some SEO tricks about 5 years ago. I know all I need to know about SEO for small businesses!
If you learned some SEO tricks yesterday, you still don’t know all you need to know about SEO, and there’s a good chance that what you learned 5 years ago, one year ago, one month ago, or even yesterday has changed already.
The algorithms that Google–or any search engine–uses to determine the order of search engine results are closely held secrets, and they are constantly tweaking and changing the algorithm.
SEO is as if you are trying to put together a puzzle in which the photo keeps changing.
In a way, one could claim that nobody can ever be an SEO expert, because nobody can know what the actual algorithms of the search engines are.
That’s not to say you can’t benefit from someone who makes SEO their living. We partner with people who manage SEO all the time, and consider their craft invaluable.
But to understand SEO is to understand that it is, and will forever be, a moving target.
Myth #3: I added some keywords to my site. So I’m good.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot to debunk in this myth.
Search engine optimization for small businesses, and for any business, is not a one and done process.
True SEO is an ongoing process. Something that you are always working at, manipulating, and nurturing.
SEO is also not simply the act of adding some keywords to your site.
In fact, these days, keywords are not nearly as helpful as key phrases.
For instance, Katy Dwyer Design would never try to optimize our site using the keyword “websites.” Imagine how many other websites you are competing against with just the word “websites.”
Instead, we would optimize for a key phrase, such as “website designer kingston ny” or “custom wordpress website designer.”
There’s also a lot to optimizing your website, itself, including, but not limited to:
- Researching the right key phrases for each page
- Adding data to your website (title tags, meta descriptions, alt tags, and more)
- Making sure your site is mobile-friendly
- Writing the right amount of content for your optimized pages, with keyword-rich H1 and/or H2 tags
- Including keyword-rich file-named photos
- Adding links both internally and externally
- Updating the content on your website regularly, such as with new blog posts, case studies, portfolio items, products, or otherwise
And that’s just for the on-site SEO that you want to do.
Then there’s all the off-site SEO you can do, such as:
- Getting inbound links to your website
- Using Social Media on a consistent basis
- Writing Guest blogs
- Creating and sharing Video, Podcasts, and other media
It’s also important to note here that while you can insert numerous key phrases into your site, you really want to focus on optimizing each page for one particular key phrase (one phrase per page).
Myth #4: If I do SEO on my site, I will be found right away.
Search Engine Optimization is for those with patience and persistence.
That being said, you should do it, and start now.
The sooner you start, the sooner it takes effect.
But do not expect to see results in a matter of weeks.
True SEO can take months to really start to work, and that’s if you are doing it consistently, and attacking it from multiple angles (like the on-site and off-site examples we provided above).
If you are looking for immediate results, you will need to spend some money on Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
SEM is paid advertising.
For instance, Google AdWords is SEM. Facebook Ads are SEM.
SEO helps you get found in organic searches.
SEM is when you are paying to have your links delivered–not in the organic results–but in the ad areas of Google or other search engines.
Because you are paying for SEM to be delivered, you are pushing your site out, and will get more instant results (at a price).
Myth #5: I’m only successful at SEO if I am #1 on the page.
While aiming high is always commendable, it’s not always necessary.
Although, certainly, many people click on position #1, you can see from this data that a good number of clicks occur in the #2, 3 and 4 positions as well.
And in fact, it really just pays to be on the first page.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t always click on the first link that comes up when I search.
I read the titles, read the descriptions, and make an informed decision about where I want to click.
Which is why it pays to make sure you are including relevant page titles and meta descriptions in all your site pages.
Myth #6: I’ll never break through the noise. I’m a small, local business competing with Amazon online!
Being a local business actually affords you an advantage the larger competitors don’t have.
It gives you the ability to optimize with long-tail, geo-specific keyphrases.
You’re now thinking: “Don’t get all technical on me! Please explain!”
Let’s compare a local hardware store (we’ll call it “Mike’s Hardware Shop”) to a big box store like Home Depot.
Mike has an advantage. He’s local, and can use that in his SEO.
He can use what are called long-tail key phrases to optimize his site.
If Mike is selling a Craftsman Push Lawn Mower, and Mike’s store is in Kingston, NY, he might use the key phrase “Push Lawn Mower Kingston NY”.
This would be a long-tail key phrase because it’s rather long, as opposed to a shorter variation, such as simply “lawn mowers.”
People searching specifically in Kingston, NY–the exact market he is looking to attract–may be searching locally.
You’d be surprised how most people search with multiple long-tail phrases naturally, because they know it will help narrow their search to the right results.
And that’s an advantage to you, the small business owner, trying to attract a local market via SEO.
There you have it, 6 myths about SEO and the truth behind the fiction.
Why not try one of these today on your OWN site! I’d love to hear what you try.
Got a question about SEO? Submit it here!