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SEO and Small Business: Knowledge is Everything

SEO and Small Business Knowledge is Everything - The 123Print BlogIn 2014, online visibility for your small business is more important than ever.  In fact, the visibility of your brand in all market areas is essential to business expansion and growth. For our purposes, we are going to focus on some of the more preliminary tactics that small businesses should employ when establishing their SEO strategy.

First and foremost, know your audience.

You may think this is stating the obvious, and for all intent purposes it is. However, it’s surprising how many business owners, small and large, take this step for granted and miss the boat on potential traffic and sales.  Do as much research on potential clients, their needs and behavior as possible and discover what and why they are searching for it on your site. But what does this have to do with SEO you may ask? It’s simple; it’s all about your site’s content. Once you know your audience, you can better optimize your content to accommodate potential buyers and new customers.  For example, if your service and products appeal more to an older business savvy audience, you probably don’t want to use slang and quote Talladega Nights in your product descriptions.  By the way, if you do want to add some spice and flavor to your small business site, then incorporate a blog.  Utilize it for things you may not have an opportunity to do on the rest of your website and engage your audience with informative posts, news or other methods.

Just as importantly, know your competition.

It’s easy for a mom and pop hardware store owner to identify Home Depot or Lowes as some of their competitors in the hardware market. Nonetheless, these are not the sites you want to initially focus on. Instead, search for the keywords you’d like your brand to rank for as well as the product keywords you are targeting (Tip: Find less competitive keywords that are relevant to your business and try ranking for them. This will help establish traffic related your products and put you in a better position when you do want to throw your hat into the ring for keywords with higher search volumes).  Analyze the search results pages and take a look at similar sized businesses in your industry that are experiencing greater online success and higher visibility. These are the websites that you should directly compete with. When you have a good feel of which sites those are,  go to their website (click on their ad if they have one- not on their organic listing!) and see what they do better than you.  Is their content more engaging? Have they optimized for their target keywords differently perhaps in the Meta description, title tag or the on page copy? Maybe they have embedded how-to videos that are driving traffic to their site? Whatever it is, you need to learn from it. It’s not copying but a form of enlightenment. Besides, imitation is the highest form of flattery. Finally, study the back link profiles of these competitors. Use a service like Moz’s Open Site Explorer and get information on sites linking to back to your competitors. There may be a wealth of opportunity out there that you simply didn’t know about. Try reaching out to some of the webmasters and inquire if they might link to your domain as well.  While there has been a significant shift in SEO away from ‘link building’ and more of an emphasis on ‘link earning’, you can still take advantage of your competitor’s back link profile and begin to create partnerships with potential influencers in your industry.

Last but not least, know your site.

Pick apart your internal link structure, identify your strongest landing pages and make sure your site can be easily navigated by users and search engines alike. Your internal link structure will serve as a guide to search engines as to what you consider to be the most important pages, so be sure to make those readily accessible in your internal link architecture.  Also, don’t forget to provide your site visitors with a page that gives them information about your business such as business hours, location phone number and email address. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

What is your mantra when it comes to SEO and your small business?
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