Let’s start with some data… It is a known fact these days that 93% of online experiences start with a search engine. In plain English, this means that having your company listed in a prominent place has very good profit potential, thus making SEO a high ROI marketing tactic. That being said, there are many traps waiting for people who want to take advantage of these possibilities.
First of all, just to set some things straight, many small business owners, when asked, will indeed say that they do SEO. But what it often means is that “the guy who designed their site took care of SEO,” which is a big overstatement as SEO isn’t a one-off thing. This makes it very difficult to do proper research and find stats that pin the businesses really making the effort to produce actual results from SEO.
Another problem for entrepreneurs is that whenever they try to find a professional or an SEO agency to help them out, they can be quickly taken advantage of by either low quality results or campaigns priced at $ 1000+ per month. What it all comes down to is that, unfortunately, SEO is indeed just a theoretic concept for many businesses…
But that’s nothing to worry too much about because contrary to a popular belief, if you’re a small business owner then you can get started with SEO quite easily. And you certainly don’t need thousands of dollars to spend on it per month. This is how to proceed to make it happen:
Ground-rule no. 1: Getting familiar with both elements of SEO
First of all, good SEO is about bringing results – good positions in search engine rankings for valuable keywords that bring traffic. To set yourself up in a way that makes it possible to achieve these results is to handle both elements of SEO: content and backlinks.
Content is a general term to describe all the pages on your website that present unique information and are in some way valuable to your readers/visitors. Backlinks are all the links pointing to this content from other sites. The presence of backlinks not only brings direct traffic from those other sites but also improves your site’s position in the search engine rankings.
The danger points
There are many common mistakes done by business owners new to SEO. But among the most dangerous ones, I feel I should name just two: not having content that’s fresh, and hiring shady agencies to do low quality SEO services.
Even though Google doesn’t want to admit this openly, various independent researches prove that fresh content ranks extremely well even if it doesn’t have that many backlinks pointing to it. In the end, what this means is that to hope for a good position in Google, you need to continue publishing new content on a regular basis.
More than that, the content needs to be valuable and interesting on its own. So, blasting purely promotional messages won’t be able to cut it.
Low quality SEO services
There are way too many companies and even individuals offering cheap SEO services promising extraordinary results in return. The only tough part is that such services will often consist of link spamming on low quality sites and more than too much comment spam as well. These tactics will have only a short term effect and right after the said SEO firm collects their payment, Google will ban your site altogether causing you to lose all its rankings.
A very good guideline to follow is to never buy SEO services that seem like a deal that’s too good to be true… It most certainly is.
Do it yourself
Now that you know the common traps waiting for small business owners on the SEO market, you can join the game and start building your site’s presence by yourself. Here’s how:
- Create content (articles, blog posts or pages) that addresses some specific needs of your target audience, and publish it on your site. If you don’t want to be the creator yourself, you can hire freelancers on a per-project basis.
- Compile a list of relevant sites in your niche that might be willing to feature a link pointing to your new content.
- Reach out to those sites and ask them to take a look at your content and share it with their audience if they like it.
There are just 4 steps, but they really do work. However, as always, the devil is in the details. It’s the way you create your outreach message that will determine your success or failure. Also, if you start with a list of non-related sites in the beginning then you can’t hope for good results either. It will take some trial and error, but in the end, you’ll get better and better with every next outreach email you send.
But wait, there’s more!
Variety in links
What matters in modern SEO is variety. In other words, the more different links you have, the better your site looks in Google’s eyes.
Therefore, try to reach out to different sites covering different angles within your niche. Also, incorporate some forum posting and blog commenting into your efforts.
Take advantage of the trends
Every now and then, there’s something that pops up right to the top of the list of popular SEO tactics. These days, it’s infographics. Many site owners invest money in creating good looking infographics and share them across the web with the hope that they will go viral and reach high popularity in short periods of time. This strategy does work very well for the top players in this game.
But infographics are just an example, and the main message here is to make sure to keep your finger on the pulse and try to notice everything new that’s getting popular on the web and among your fellow business owners, and then to use it in your SEO marketing as well. In 2014 infographics are the leader. What will take over for 2015? Only time will tell.
Okay, let’s call it a post. I hope the insights presented in this guide will make it easier for you to join the SEO game and produce some actual results instead of getting scammed by a shady SEO firm. Feel free to ask me anything and I encourage you to take action on the advice as soon as today.