A few big news outlets recently ran stories about how search engine optimization is a thing of the past.
And while it’s true that SEO is evolving to meet the needs of today’s searchers (which, as anyone who has been involved in SEO for more than a few months knows, SEO is always evolving), SEO is by no means dead.
For small businesses, SEO is more important than ever before, and it can now be more easily harnessed to boost the number of site visitors you see, conversions you make, and therefore profits for your bottom line.
If you are new to SEO or it is time to revamp and existing campaign, here are ten ways small businesses can still use SEO:
1. Create great content that your readers are likely to share.
Sounds simple enough, right?
In all seriousness, this can be one of the most difficult parts of search engine optimization, but is also one of the most important.
Content that is valuable and shareable is one of the best ways to attract new traffic to your website and it also encourages your readers to market you (for free) to their friends and followers.
Find a topic that people in your industry are talking about.
Write something extremely useful or even a little controversial.
Make it engaging and make it relatable.
2. Make sure your company shows up in content that is related to your industry.
For example, if you make and/or sell shoes made from recycle materials and you don’t show up in an article that lists the top ten most environmentally conscious shoe manufacturers or sellers, contact that author of that article and ask of you can be included.
Not only are you make that author’s job really easy (you’re bringing the research to him), you’ll find your link and your name in an article that that author or outlet is marketing for their own purposes.
This means that they are marketing you, too.
3. Start guest posting.
If you’re not yet a guest poster, it’s time to become one.
Guest posting is one of the best ways to boost your SEO, largely because it allows you to steal the juice of a website that already has lots of traffic and a dedicated following.
In order for this to work, you need to find blogs that are similar in industry and niche to your business, and then write and pitch an article that the readers of those blogs are likely to find interesting.
You’re doing that blog runner a favor and if your post is interesting enough and helpful enough, you’ll be driving people back to your website.
4. Become a broken link scout.
On webpages and in blog posts that haven’t seen maintenance for a few months or years, it is possible that the links they’ve included in the content have become broken.
If your webpage or a blog post of yours could replace that broken link, there’s no harm in contacting the site administrator and letting him know about the broken link and suggesting your webpage or blog post as a fix.
5. Claim your brand mentions.
If you have started to generate some buzz about your business, there are probably some blogs or websites that have published content that mention your brand.
If this is the case (and you can find these brand mentions by setting up a Google Alert), contact the authors of that content and find out if they would be willing to add a link to where they have mentioned your website.
6. Reach out to a similar website to see if they would mind linking to yours.
While not exactly a new idea, reaching out to a company that has a website that is in a similar (but not the same) niche as yours and asking if they would mind adding a link to your business on their website is still a good idea.
You don’t want to do this with your direct competitors, but those who are similar, but don’t skim off of your customer or client base are good options.
7. Analyze what your competitors are doing.
Especially if they seem to be pulling down more clients or customers than you do, it’s time to take a look at where your competition’s traffic comes from.
Looking at what websites refer traffic to a competitor can give your venues to reach out to, so you can ask for a similar link or referral to your webpage.
8. Start paying attention to return on investment.
Many small businesses spend far too much time worrying about how their keywords are ranking and far too little time actually looking at whether or not their websites are converting the traffic they do actually get.
You can be in the number one slot on Google and still see very little ROI.
Make the most of the traffic you do get and it will probably help you get more traffic.
9. Don’t just optimize for Google.
It can be easy to only focus on Google.
Google is king of the search engine game, but that doesn’t mean it is the be-all, end-all when it comes to search engine optimization.
Don’t forget about Yahoo and Bing.
10. Claim your local listings and make the best of them.
You have all of these local listings sitting around online.
If you haven’t claimed them yet, it’s time to do that and to make sure that the information listed there is completely correct.
This also gives you the opportunity to respond to negative reviews or comments left by customers, to thank loyal customers for their patronage, and to further reach out to your community.