If you own a small business (or run a small business), you are probably aware of the challenges that search engine optimization (SEO) present. Those challenges are most likely different from SEO challenges that mid and large size companies experience. You need to maximize SEO for your small business effectively.
Learning how to customize
There are a few truths here and you would do well not to ignore them considering that you want your small business not only to get by but also to really make a solid contribution in the workforce. Just like social media, SEO (as a concept and as a business strategy) is here to stay. That means that you must optimize your content for the search engines (that is, if you have any hope of succeeding).
Your rankings on the search engines are critical to your brand’s success. If you don’t embrace SEO, the next guy (or girl) will step up immediately and do whatever you were unwilling to do. His or her business will thank you for having given him or her the opportunity. It is that simple. You need to make sure that your brand and your business is always visible so that other people are well aware of what you are doing and how you can help them to solve their problem(s).
If your business happens to have branches in different locations or if you are only in one location, you still need to customize your SEO to those locations. That customization may be slightly different in each place so you should embrace it now so that you are prepared for what you need to do later. If you have more than one location, you will need a page for each location. You will want to share the following information:
The contact information of your business(es) (business name, address, phone number, Email address)
A list and the products and services that you offer
Direction to your brick-and-mortar business(es)
Your hours of operation
Contact form so that the other person has a way of connecting with you
Social buttons so that the other person can go to the next step with your brand
Descriptions of your offerings (and meta-tags). It is important to keep in mind that each description must be unique. Otherwise, you may be penalized for having duplicate content.
Interactive (properly functioning) pages. That means that when the other person wants to reach out to you, he or she is able to do so.
Clear, concise, and compelling content.
An easy way for the other person to navigate through the pages.
Effective keywords and key phrases so that the other person can find you easily.
Make sure that other people can find you locally (optimize properly)
Although there is no doubt that your website is really important for your brand and for your business, there are other places where your prospective customers hang out and where they will be more inclined to find you. Try LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
You should also register your business(es) with a local listing site. There is a really good chance that if you list your business there, people will find you because that is one type of site where they will naturally go when they need what you happen to be offering. Once you have decided to put your information on a local listing site, you will want to include the following:
The URL of your business’ website.
Your business hours.
Prices to go with your products and/or services.
A full list of the products and/or services that you offer.
Your credentials (after all, the other person will need to consider you credible so that he or she eventually buys what you are selling).
Photos of what you are selling.
An important thing to remember (if you have multiple locations) is that your content should be consistent across all locations. That even holds true from a grammatical perspective. There is nothing worse than inconsistency (well, second worst. The worst thing to find in content is typos). A lack of consistency shows a lack of attention to detail, which translates to your not caring about your business and about other people. That is probably not true but it is a perception that other people will get and it will stick with them, unfortunately. Oh, and inconsistency will also negatively affect your search engine ranking.
Customize a content strategy for your local business(es)
Your local business(es) will be so much more personal to your customers than one that can reach people universally online. Although connecting people in any way possible is crucial, there is something so much more meaningful about connecting with the other person face to face. Your content must reflect that personal connection in many different ways. You will want to start by:
Clearly defining exactly who your “perfect” customer is: It is important to do this before you work on your strategy. You will need to have a deep understanding of who that person is and what he or she will want and need. Only then will you be able to effectively customize your strategy.
Figure out exactly what your positioning should be: This may seem challenging in the beginning. Establishing your positioning means that you will have to find your niche. The more specialized you become, the more narrow your target audience will be. However, that also means that you will have less competition, which, of course, is a really good thing. One of your main points of focus will be getting other people to view you as an expert and as a thought leader (and, eventually, an influencer). You want the other person to think of you first when he or she needs what you are offering.
Customize your message: Your entire presence (landing pages, website, and all content that discusses your offerings) should be customized to the point where the other person feels as though you are speaking only to him or her. Again, make sure that the content is consistent across the board.
Share content on a regular basis: Sharing valuable content on a regular basis is what will allow you the opportunity to establish a relationship with the other person. The more you publish your content, the deeper and closer your relationship will become with the other person.
Promote your brand: You are probably well aware of the fact that once you have laid the foundation, the work has just begun. You certainly cannot afford to sit back and wait for something to happen because it won’t. You didn’t make all that effort just to have it gather dust in the corner. You need to tell people about your brand and you need to get out there and shake hands and kiss babies.
Optimizing content for a small business is very different than optimizing for a larger business. If you don’t have SEO, nobody will visit you. You need also to make sure that your mindset is right and that the efforts that you make are going to pay off for your business. Another important thing to remember is to make sure that your offerings are placed in the most appropriate categories. You should never think that SEO is SEO in every situation. Your efforts need to be customized and tweaked to fit the situation.
Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies. Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. He also reduced company travel and travel costs by introducing and implementing various collaboration technologies.