Getting Google to recognize you may seem harder than climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, but being a top search result can position your brand above the rest (literally).
Plus, traffic that comes in (and buys!) via organic search is free. Instead of paying for each click, you simply reap the benefit of appearing when someone is looking for your products or services.
SEO has a bad reputation of being spammy, but search engines are getting smarter. If you want to appear in search results, you need to create authentic, helpful content that gets attention. Black hat tactics (yucky ones such as paying for links) are getting punished by Google.
Wondering how you can take advantage of search?
Create Compelling, Informative Content
It’s not enough to have some words up on your site. Your content needs to be compelling, informative, and strategic. Think of it this way: If you’re selling financial consulting services and you create a blog post comparing two different retirement funds, you’ll catch the attention of those doing research, who in turn might buy from you. Your audience might search “x fund vs. y fund” and be led to your site.
But creating compelling content isn't as easy as slapping words down on a screen. It's challenging to make things interesting. If you sell financial consulting, that doesn't mean you can ONLY write about that. Instead, you might be able to create content that your audience and potential customers would find helpful.
For example, we sell a virtual phone system at Grasshopper, but we create resources for small business owners who are simply looking for business help.
Tips for Creating Great Content:
Write for humans. Imagine you're writing to your mom or best friend. Would they find it compelling?
Don't think a high-schooler can write your entire website. Hire a professional writer.
Tell stories-- make readers laugh, cry, get angry, nod their heads-- something!
Break up your content with visuals and formatting to make it scan-able and easy to read.
READ. Read everything online. Read your heart out. Figure out what's compelling and analyze why.
Try and Get People Linking to Your Site
If people link to your site, you’ll get traffic, but you’ll also acquire SEO value. The higher the value of the site that links to you, the more power it has.
This doesn't mean you should stop at emailing everyone you know that has a web domain to get a link. Instead, you should create resources that people want to link to. Instead, pitch the media with your story. There are tons of things you can do.
Check out PointBlankSEO's list of link building strategies. You can filter the list based on amount of time you have, the value of the links you want, and what other services you'll need to make it happen.
For example, if we're looking to create 'link attraction', want high value links, and only have content and social media resources available, we can filter accordingly:
We're presented with options such as:
How-to's and Tutorials
Have a Fast, Well-designed, Professional Website
SEO is another reason you need a fast and professional website. The faster your site, the more Google will like it. A spammy-looking, shoddy site is unlikely to be the favorite of any search engine.
Here's what looks good to Google:
Easily navigable links (making sure your links go where they're supposed to go!)
An established hierarchy (visitors go to your most important page first)
A responsive site that's accessible on a range of devices (not just a computer with a huge screen!)
Site speed. If it takes a long time for pages to load, visitors will drop off and so will search engines.
Building and leveraging social media. By staking your claim on social networks, you prove to search engines that your business is for real.
Get to Know Google
Know what Google’s webmaster best practices and quality guidelines say. Because these guidelines change all the time, you need to be in the know.
If you want to get the most traffic you can from the U.S.’s biggest search engine, it’s important to know what will work well and is considered acceptable practice.
How to get this info?
Keep tabs on Google's Official Webmaster Blog, which posts official news on how the company indexes websites.
Track Matt Cutts, head of the web spam team at Google. Matt's word is the end-all-be-all for many SEOs. Matt often answers common questions in his web videos, often while wearing a cool t-shirt.
Ignorance is not an excuse with Google, so stay in the know.
Read Up On SEO
Don't just listen to what Google has to say. It's also important to keep up with experts who analyze what Google's put out.
We believe that Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO is one of the best resources out there when you’re just getting started with SEO. It will help you understand how search engines work, why search engine marketing (SEM) is necessary, and how to do keyword research.
Top Sites for Keeping Up With SEO and Search
Search Engine Land
SEO By The Sea
If you want to get recognized by Google (and trust us, you do!), it's time to learn about SEO. It'll take a bit of work, but the benefits are worth it.
Your Turn: How do you use SEO for your small biz? What do you think are the most important things to know?