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7 Essential SEO Tips for Small Businesses

Posted on May 21st, 2010
Written by TopRank Marketing
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    search engine optimizationWhen it comes to marketing in the current economy, small businesses need all the help they can get. They don’t have the ad budgets, the personnel or the time that the bigger competition has. But none of those factors really matter to search engines, and SEO is a great way to both level the playing field and steal marketshare.

    Here are a few tips that small businesses can use to improve their SEO and user experience.

    1. Turn everything into content

    Content is still King. Search engines still love unique content, and the more useful content there is on your website, the more opportunities you give searchers to find your products and services. Rob Snell gave a fabulous presentation at PUBCON South, and one of the main takeaways was how to turn everything on an e-commerce site into content. Here are some ways to “free” extra content on your site. Here were some of his tips:

    • Record everything and transcribe it all into text. Interviews, conversations, product DVD’s, personal opinions, etc.
    • Turn support emails into FAQ pages on your site
    • Turn PDF’s into HTML pages (although PDF files can rank on their own)
    • Start generating videos of everything

    2. Make it personal

    Small businesses have a major advantage that most bigger businesses don’t:  A personal voice. By making your voice heard, you’re showcasing your authority in your market, and adding trust. Buyers love hearing recommendations or reviews, and are more influenced to buy from those vs. product feature and benefit pages. Consumers use search engines to research products, and other than the lowest price, they’re looking for recommendations. Give them some! If you have a catalog, make a buyers guide in addition to product listings. Show you’re an expert and turn your knowledge into personalized business. Teaching is a great way to make sales.

    3. Optimize for local search

    Odds are that your small business can take advantage of local search. 63% of consumers use search engines to research information about local companies. Start with Thomas’ excellent guide on local SEO tips that range from claiming your profile to adding media to submitting to content aggregators.

    4. Improve your site’s speed

    Small business sites can be notoriously slow. Site speed is usually one of the last things that small business owners care about. But now that Google has introduced speed into the ranking algorithm, it’s time to seriously start checking out how fast your site loads. But more importantly, when you improve your site’s speed, you’re also improving your customer’s experience. Don’t make users wait to buy your products! You can use tools like Web Page Analyzerand the Firefox extension YSlow! to see what’s taking your pages so long to load. If you’re using a blog or shopping cart software, search for caching plugins for your software.

    5. Refine internal linking

    Internal links can add value to your site considerably, but many small businesses don’t understand that you have to develop a linking mindset in order to really capitalize on it. It takes extra time to research old post links and include them in your articles, but the benefits are great. Sites like Copyblogger do an excellent job of referencing older posts in their articles. Not only does this strategy help with SEO, it also adds to the user experience, giving them more Think long and hard about your site’s linking architecture. Is your navigation schema getting to all of your content? Aside from adding sitemaps, related products and posts keep both visitors and search engines happy. Popular posts lists are also great for making sure your best content is getting seen and linked to.

    6. Create content for people

    If you’re generating content specifically for search engines, you’re missing a major chunk of your market. Humans don’t like to be bamboozled, and when they come to a page on your site that was obviously made for a search engine, they’ll leave in a hurry and never come back. Plus, only humans can link to your site. If you want to get more inbound links and retain customers, you need to write for customers. The goal to higher search results is still to get more people to your site. After all, search engines can’t buy anything from you.

    7. Don’t fret about getting nofollow links

    It’s easy to get carried away with only trying to get incoming links without the dreaded nofollow. But really, a link is still a link. If that link can bring in a potential customer, then you want it. If you’re only looking for specific types of incoming links, than odds are you’re missing lots of the low-hanging backlink fruit and worrying about the wrong things.

    Who knows how long the nofollow link will be around? If you’re smart, you worry about what’s most important: creating great content. You can’t control how Google ranks things in the future. Focus on things you can control, like creating a killer experience for your customers. In the end, if you focus on giving your customers and visitors great content, many aspects of SEO will take care of itself. Great content attracts great links, especially when you promote it and leverage social SEO channels of distribution. If it’s good for your potential customers, odds are it’s good for SEO too.