For a small business website owner, one of the challenges of online marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) is that your competitors may also know how to get found on search engines. In fact, they may have been employing SEO tricks for years, and they may be enjoying a top spot on engines like Google™, Bing™, and Yahoo!®. Conversely, you may have had great success with SEO in the past, but then you found your site losing placement on the search engines because other people in your field have learned how to make their own sites jump over yours.
So how do you compete in SEO when everyone else is doing it too?
For one thing . . . you have to be smarter. Lots of people only know a few basic facts about SEO, and some are using outdated techniques. Search engines are always changing the way they read and index websites, and you can use this fact to your advantage. If you take the time to learn what search engines are looking for today, you can overtake people who have held onto top spots for years. If you can’t do SEO yourself, you can look to companies like Web.com for professional advice and implementation.
Second . . . you should build a site that search engines want to see. Your website design should have easy-to-follow links that take visitors (and search engines) from the homepage to all the other pages on your site. Your site should have a hierarchy that lets search engines understand the difference between important category pages and less critical detail pages. On top of that, you should have links from other relevant websites that reference your own site. Google and Bing use these links as an endorsement of your site’s content, and most top-ranking websites will use several methods to acquire high-value links.
Third . . . you should be offering value on your site that isn’t present or obvious on other websites. Many of the most popular sites on the Internet have been able to avoid complex link acquisition work because they’ve become well known for their content or tools. Mint.com became a $140 million company in 2 years by offering personal financial tools for users. Part of its search engine success can be attributed to the financial, awards, and news sites that have linked to it. Although your site may not have such a dramatic success story, if you can help people figure something out—by building a cost calculator onto your website, for example—you might even have the competition linking to your Web pages.
At Web.com Search Agency, we have clients who compete with other companies that either have in-house SEO talent or have hired a competing agency to produce search engine results. It usually isn’t hard to tell when other sites on search engines are using SEO, because their sites are well presented and they have a clear pattern of valuable links from other websites.
As a small business website owner, you can still compete on this playing field by ensuring that your own site follows basic SEO principles. By adding value to your website, or giving potential customers something they can’t see somewhere else (such as a price list, a how-to guide, or the towns and communities in your service area), you’ll be providing the search engines with content while you make life easier for users. As you build your online reputation, you should expect not only better search engine rankings, but also an increased level of trust in your website and business.
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