Year after year, news publications and bloggers sound the alarms and claim that the sky is falling in regards to how businesses can optimize their websites to be found more frequently in search engines. It’s true that search engines like Google are making it more difficult for some businesses to be found, but it’s also true that others are benefiting significantly from the changes Google makes to their algorithm.
Search engines continuously work on their algorithms so that consumers find the most value out of their search results. Otherwise, consumers would search somewhere else to find their answer.
Where does this leave search engine optimization (SEO) for small business? It’s all about value. These changes are good for businesses that focus on providing value via content with their web presence over cutting corners to manipulate the search results.
How Small Businesses Should Optimize for Search Engines
Meeting the consumers with content that matches their search intent is key to winning consistently with search engines. As people shift from searching for keywords to more specific phrases, businesses should focus less on being found for “bowling” and more for “bowling near me.” This is, at a very basic level, how small businesses can help customers find their business through meeting their search intent. Searchers are becoming more specific, which opens up new opportunities for local businesses that are paying attention.
Research continues to show that the combination of being found and being the authoritative source of content that adds value will influence a purchasing decision. For some industries, this is an instant transaction, and for others, it might be a 6 month process. The goal is to produce content that helps build your influence and encourage a purchasing behavior.
Unfortunately, small businesses are often frustrated with search engines and the people that claim to understand them. Over the years, the value of SEO for small businesses has been diminished due to snake oil agencies and misinformation created by click baiting blogs.
Here’s the truth though: Quality SEO can make a significant difference financially for local businesses. Sometimes that difference means surviving for another year because a different method of advertising stopped working, or it means increasing your sales by 25% year over year.
When we look at SEO, in its most technical form, these are the areas that we are most concerned with:
- Visibility: Can users actually reach all of the pages that need to be found or is information blocked or broken from viewing? Submitting a website and ensuring that content is indexing is key.
- Usability: Optimizing for usability should be a high priority for businesses. Information should be easy to find. Additionally, a mobile friendly presence is now a ranking factor with Google.
- Content: Written and visual content should be optimized for website visitors, but there’s also a more technical side behind optimizing content. On page links and images should be optimized as well.
- Meta Information: Onsite optimization is an area that also needs to be addressed. This content is used to tell search engines specifically what the content is actually about.
- Local Information: The information that is on local listing sites can be a major influencer in small business SEO.
Ensuring that you meet the search intent of your customer by optimizing your site with these areas in mind (primarily with content) will help drive more online traffic, and thus lead to more sales for your business. Local SEO is not an overnight fix, but the transition to an optimized presence can lead to dramatic longterm results.