For years, businesses have been trying to win the search engine game, seeking the coveted top spot Google rankings for their industry’s most popular search phrases. For the small business that can’t afford a megabucks SEO firm or a team of in-house SEO experts, the challenge is not only competing in the rankings, but determining the best route to success with limited funds.
As an Indianapolis SEO firm, and business owner who has studied the world of SEO for more than a decade, I often counsel my clients in order to help them understand SEO, as well as the best Internet marketing activities to help improve their SEO rankings. I am often surprised at how much confusion exists about SEO among business executives, as well as the amount of inaccurate information that SEO vendors use to promote their services.
First, let’s start with a few SEO misconceptions:
- Since I’m a small business, I have no hope of my site getting top Google Rankings. Wrong. It is possible to achieve high Google rankings as a small fish in a big pond.
- I can’t afford search engine optimization. Building a good foundation for SEO success is simpler and more cost-effective than you might think. Believe it or not, you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars or more per keyword with the “hope” of success in SEO.
- SEO is about tricking the search engines. Actually, search engine optimization is more about building a quality website with good content that reflects the subject matter it covers, making it more likely for Google to reward the site with a good ranking. Tactics like keyword stuffing and link-building can many times hurt your chances of SEO success (not to mention tarnish your reputation).
- Most search engine optimization experts are phonies.While I know that some unethical practices exist in the SEO marketplace, not all search engine optimization firms are bad. However, I have found that many web development companies and ad agencies claim to know SEO, when in fact their knowledge may be limited. Beware of any company that promises SEO results or charges what you think is an excessive amount of your web development budget on SEO, because often times your company can achieve similar results with less cost.
So what are some basic things I can do right now to help my SEO?
- Start with your website content: If your website content has not been updated recently, this needs to be your first step. Don’t expect to achieve anything in SEO without this first step in place. Build your website in a format that favors content display, rather than a graphic- or flash-driven website. Note: You don’t necessarily need to pay thousands of dollars on a new website. A WordPress theme customized to your brand for a few thousand dollars will perform just as well as a $100,000 website with all the bells and whistles. AimFire Marketing includes SEO as part of our website copywriting services because we believe it is that important in the success of a website project.
- Analyze your current web traffic and Google ranking: The reason I mention Google rather than other search engines is that Google has the lion’s share of web searches, so as a business, the Google ranking is the only ranking you should really worry about. Many companies don’t know where their current web traffic comes from, how they compare with competitors, etc. A good SEO firm should include this as part of their initial service, as AimFire Marketing does.
- Determine popular keyword phrases to target: An equally important first step in the SEO process is to research popular keyword phrases for your city/state/region, industry and product/service offering. A good SEO firm again should help you with this, but missing this step could mean you are concentrating on the wrong keywords that are not competitive enough (too few searches). From this research you should develop a list of several keywords and phrases to use when optimizing your website.
- Use keyword findings to modify your website: This step is particularly important for existing websites that have struggled to perform well in search engine rankings. You may find that you need to re-develop your website entirely, or simply modify your existing site to fit the research and improve your SEO.
- Use two or three tactics rather than just one. Simply adding blogging or starting a YouTube channel won’t make much of an impact if you don’t have an ongoing content generation strategy. This should involve multiple content strategies such as blogging, social media, PR, online video and web content updates. All of these tactics can work together to enhance your SEO effort.
- Remember the purpose of SEO. Don’t forget the number one reason you want that coveted Google ranking: driving traffic to your website for the purpose of….increasing sales. Many companies are so obsessed with SEO and they forget to pay attention to their poor, outdated website. Make sure the website to which you’re driving visitors is visually appealing, navigates well, communicates properly and leads to a conversion. Otherwise, your SEO investment is worthless.
Hopefully I have opened your eyes about SEO, and that I’ve given you some hope that it can work for your business. While you may not understand Google’s algorithms, you can take action today to improve your company’s website ranking, without blowing your annual marketing budget. If you still have unanswered questions about SEO, or on how to update your website to improve rankings, contact AimFire Marketing for more information.