If you are a small business owner and you would like to grow your business in 2011, you MUST understand that the world has changed. The yellow pages are dead. Newspaper advertising has become less effective over the last 10 years. TV, radio and billboard advertising are extremely expensive and marketing results are very difficult to measure. Purchasing leads is also expensive and becoming less effective (ie: Service Magic for the Service Industry) because those leads that you purchase are typically sent to 4 or 5 other business owners. What is a small business owner to do?
Pushing your marketing message out to people is not the most cost-effective way to acquire new customers. When consumers have questions, they go to Google and other search engines to find immediate answers. Most consumers subscribe to their favorite industry blogs and favorite newspaper columnists via email or RSS (Really Simple Syndication – pushes new blog articles directly to consumers via a feed reader like Google Reader). The advent of the internet, search engines and social media has given power to consumers to seek out exactly what they are trying to find. If you want to grow your business in 2011, you must have an online presence and understand how taking control of your SEO and Social Media efforts will yield great ROI.
Director of SEO and Social Media at Zeta Interactive, Hugo Guzman wrote a blog post targeting enterprise businesses on how SEO and Social Media success is nearly impossible if no one owns it. Hugo talks about how many enterprise-level companies do not have one person responsible for their SEO and/or Social Media Strategies. He has found most companies divide the SEO/Social Media responsibilities between a marketing manager and an IT department, neither of which may be SEO-savvy. Without someone primarily dedicated to these marketing channels, many issues arise as a result, including:
-Haggling over whose budget is going to be tapped into
-IT folks that think SEO begins and ends with outdated concepts like code-to-content ratio (yeah, I’m serious)
-Traditional marketers that wouldn’t know a title tag if punched them in the face
-Little to no actual site and page-level implementation because nobody’s neck is truly on the line in terms of the ROI gained from SEO
-Link building? What the heck is link building? (yeah, I’m serious about that too)
For a small business owner with typically less than 10 employees, no on-site IT person and perhaps no marketing manager, taking control of SEO and Social Media is an even bigger challenge.
So How Can I Take Control Of My SEO AND Social Media Efforts?
1. You must have the ability to edit and add new pages to your website. I am not saying to go out and purchase a book on “web development for dummies.” There are plenty of content management systems that are easy to use without having any web development (html, css, php) knowledge. Content Management Systems to consider are: WordPress, Blogger, Squarespace or HubSpot (my employer).
2. Once you have the ability to edit your website, you need to understand the language that your target audience is using online to ask questions about your industry/products/services. You can use Google’s Keyword Tool or (other keyword tools) to give you ideas on the most effective words to use on your website. Keyword tools give you the ability to scrape your competition’s website for keywords that they are trying to rank for, which will also give you ideas on which words may or may not be relevant for your business.
3. Once you identify keyword phrases that you would like to rank for, start adding new pages to your website and try to optimize each page for a unique keyword phrase and perhaps a variation of that particular keyword. Here is an SEO Guide from SEO Moz to help advance your SEO education. In a recent article on SEO tips for recruiters, I make note of some very basic, on-page SEO tips that every small business owner should be aware of.
4. You MUST have a blog that resides on your website. Your Business Blog should be set up either like this: http://www.YOURWEBSITE.com/BLOG or http://BLOG.YOURWEBSITE.com. A big mistake would be to set up your blog like this: http://YOURWEBSITE.Wordpress.com or http://YOURWEBSITE.blogspot.com or http://YOURWEBSITE.typepad.com. If you have your blog set up correctly on your own website, every blog article becomes new web page that will be indexed on search engines creating a NEW opportunity to rank in search engine results pages. At bare minimum, you should write one new blog article per week if you want to have any level of success. Not sure you understand the value of business blogging? Here are some key take-aways for setting up a business blog:
- Get found on search engines – SEO
- Build thought leadership and trust with your readers
- Blogs are your Social Media Hub or Home Base for all of your remarkable content
- Educate your prospects on how they can achieve success in your industry
5. If you have Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook accounts for your business, you should share your blog content on those social media networks. Most Small Business Owners are commonly confused about the use of social media. If there is any advice I can give to them, it is this: DO NOT JOIN SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKS UNTIL YOU FIRST HAVE A BLOG AND BLOG CONTENT STRATEGY.
How Much Time Will It Take Each Week for SEO and Social Media?
You must commit a minimum of 1 hour per day to be successful with your SEO and Social Media Strategy. Being successful with SEO and Social Media is much like a gym membership. The more times you go to the gym, the more weight you lose. If you go to the gym 4 times per week, you will see better results than if you go once a week. Similarly, blogging 4 times per week will result in more traffic and leads than if you blog only once a week or less.
Please understand that there is a lot to learn in order to be successful with SEO and Social Media in 2011 and this article only scratches the surface.
What is your SEO and social media strategy?
Feel free to Contact Me with any questions on how to achieve SEO and Social Media success this year.
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