If you’re a small business owner the time to come to grips and understand all the ins and outs of search engine optimization (SEO) is limited. With semantic search the list of things you have to do in order to help your business become more visible on the web has grown.
When you have little time and few resources in money and manpower it makes sense to get your wins where you can. With semantic search, paradoxically, there are some that every small business can apply and most don’t.
Here’s what you have to do:
1. Make sure your website is up: Basic, I know. But a lot of websites suffer from downtime unnecessarily. If you have been experiencing uptime issues, now’s the time to address them and find a hosting company that offers a better service.
2. Make sure your website loads fast: By far the most important SEO element you can improve. This is part website-design and part hosting company issue. Use Google’s PageSpeed Tool to check your website’s load time. The online analysis also makes some suggestions for improvement. Any gain you can make on this front is a good one to make.
3. Use images that complete the story: Whatever your company website is about when you use images make sure that they complement rather than accompany the ‘story’ you tell with words. There is a difference here. Don’t just use images to break up the river of text and provide a comfort break for the reader. Uses images that actually help the reader go deeper and the story you tell with text unfold.
4. Provide real value not just content: You will need to create content for your site regardless of what kind of content you put there. Avoid the trap of creating content for content’s sake so you can tick a checkbox. Instead create real value by placing content that answers all the potential questions your audience will have in their minds.
5. Provide as much information as possible: It’s no longer enough to have a “Contact Page”. You now also need to have a Google Maps listing (if you have a real address), a Google Business Page, reviews, mentions, citations, photographs, videos and podcasts. Work on your strengths here and don’t obsess on what you can’t do easily. Be opportunistic in terms of what circumstances, skillsets and available time allow you to do but be very careful in joining everything up so all your content is clearly identified as yours and it all points back to you and your brand in some way.
6. Be in as many places as you can: What I really want to tell you to do is “be everywhere” but I know this is nearly impossible for many small businesses. So, again, play to your strengths. Use the social networks you are familiar with to grow your presence in the social web. Opportunistically and steadily, grow from there.
7. Tell your story: Small businesses always have a story to tell. How you got started. What keeps you going. The obstacles you’ve overcome and the reasons you keep coming back to work each day. You can tell this story at a much more personal level than any of your larger competitors. The reason you usually shy away from it is because you want to appear every bit as professional and infrastructure supported as they are by presenting a faceless façade backed-up by corporate-speak. Don’t. Play to your strengths not those who are bigger than you. Tell your audience why you’re really here so they can best decide if they want to do business with you.
8. Be human: The humanization of business is what the new age of connectivity is all about. It’s important that you actually learn how to project the humanity of your business, its very personal voice and character.
9. Be mobile: More than half of the online traffic these days comes from mobile devices. A website that is not mobile-friendly is not only missing out of a large slice of visitors but it is also setting itself up to receive a black mark in ranking in search.
10. Integrate online and offline: Don’t think digital. As a small business owner you can’t afford segregation. Think “business” rather than “marketing”. Business ought to be everywhere, equally. So updating your website and social media accounts with your latest offer should be done automatically, no need to think especially about digital, digital should be part of your business.
None of these ten steps are particularly challenging in technical terms or intensive in terms of money, manpower or other resources. All of them however are critical to forming a distinct business identity with specific values, a way of doing business and a distinct character. That, for a small business, is a terrific win to walk away with and it will go a long way towards helping with semantic search without adding to the workload.
Stay current in your search marketing with Google Semantic Search: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques That Get Your Company More Traffic, Increase Brand Impact, and Amplify Your Online Presence