Guest post by Megan Totka, chief editor for ChamberofCommerce.com.
The phrase “search engine optimization” strikes fear into the hearts of marketers, webmasters and small business owners alike. SEO is oftentimes the elephant in the room when it comes to our Internet marketing efforts; we know what we should be doing, but actually carrying out a successful, consistent strategy is much easier said than done. While the specifics of SEO may seem dense and complicated, much of our work can be condensed into a single, ultimate goal.
That is, look good in the eyes of Google.
By why is that so important? Who died and made Google king of search engines?
Well, history tells us that a lot of sites failed over the years as Google made its way to the top of the search engine totem pole. Often seen as the “good guy” in today’s ominous online landscape, Google presents a number of challenges and opportunities to small business owners. So, why should we work so hard to please them?
- 83% of Internet users consider Google to be their go-to search engine (with over 100 billion searches conducted per month).
- Google’s tools, such as Google Analytics, are practically universal to the modern, successful website.
- Google is raking in tens of billions of dollars annually from advertising alone, representing 96% of the company’s revenue.
Regardless of our perception of Google or our desire to please them, the act of ranking in search and “cracking” their algorithm is the holy grail of the online marketing sphere. Considering that the blood, sweat and tears that we put into our sites often pale in comparison to our big box competitors, the concept of a decent ranking seems to be out of reach. Despite this, a savvy and creative business can break through. So when it comes to giving and receiving love from Google, how do you do it well?
Quality, Quantity and Content
Of course, content is king when it comes to a decent Google ranking. The blogs, articles and various pieces of the puzzle that flesh out our site all contain the juicy center that Google is looking at. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t publishing powerhouses. In fact, an estimated 64% of content marketers state that volume is the biggest problem they face when it comes to making an impact in search marketing.
For this reason, don’t dig too much into the details of volume. Instead, focus on the tone, packaging and delivery of every little piece of content you produce and share. From blogs to infographics, your choice of words and unique spin have the potential to set you apart from the content mills spewing the same old stuff. While you may never compete with some competitors when it comes to volume, creating more content is always a viable way to improve your small business site.
Google Cares When Others Share
Social networks represent the ideal vehicle for delivering your sharable, perhaps “viral” content to the rest of the world. We use the term “viral” lightly given that viral content can’t truly be forced, yet consider the advantages you have once again versus the typical content mill. By taking the time and attention to make your content sexy, daring and intriguing, it’s much more likely to be shared. The more shares, the more attention and the more your network gets built. Once your content gets into the hands of a few big influencers, the sky’s the limit.
It’s also worth mentioning that Google puts stock into social sharing, too. The sharing cycle is ultimately a win-win for a budding business with killer content.
Catching Content by the Long Tail
The concept of “keywords” in our content can be a bit unsettling. We don’t want our content to sound like spam nor do we want to be associated with keyword stuffing or other questionable SEO practices. On the other hand, some site owners obsess so much over keyword density (which doesn’t really carry much weight in the first place) that they make their sites unreadable.
Your content should sound natural; however, it should also integrate long-tail keywords (phrases with three, four or more words) that will help your site jumpstart its quest for rankings. By focusing on Google Analytics and what your site can potentially rank for, you better understand your business’s starting point when it comes to efficient, smarter SEO.
The Bottom Line
We want to be on the top of a Google search. We want to see our site rank, and we want our Internet marketing efforts to pay off. While there are many moving pieces to your small business site, consider moving some of those pieces towards an SEO strategy that puts you in Google’s good graces.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.