As more and more brands focus their resources on capturing increased customer volumes in social and search, they increasingly find themselves competing with companies outside of their usual peer group. The additional competitive pressure has made showing up online more critical than ever, especially for under-staffed small businesses who must now contend with companies orders of magnitude larger than them.
If you’re running a small business, your SEO strategy is a critical factor to how you stand out and show up online. Sure, you can pay an expert lots of money to boost your page rankings, but as budgets and revenue constrict, tackling some tasks yourself, like those below, can be a way to cut costs without hurting your business.
1. Constantly create fresh and timely content.
This is not new advice, but it remains the most important piece of SEO advice there is. The sites that rank highest in search results are the ones that have useful, relevant information—information that answers user questions while promoting your business and its value to customers.
How do you know what search engine users are searching for? Turns out there are a number of useful tools that give you priceless insight into what’s hot for certain search engines. Google, for example, provides Google Trends, a robust tool that lets you “explore what the world is searching.” There you can find what search terms are trending, and there are cool capabilities like regional variation in search terms that can help you determine what matters to your potential customers.
Bing offers a Keyword Research tool that lets registered users pull together useful data. "All query volumes and keyword suggestions are based on organic search, not on paid search or search advertising data, giving you the most natural ideas and accurate numbers," the service explains.
Building popular keywords into your website may be as simple as posting a blog or statement that outlines your company’s COVID-19 cleaning or reopening procedures, but staying on top of popular searches can help you freshen up your website and capitalize on users current interests.
2. Be agnostic when it comes to search engines.
Yes, Google has become so ubiquitous that we use the word to mean “search online.” But Google isn’t the entire internet! Online marketing expert Neil Patel has pointed out that some search sites have significantly better conversion rates than Google.
Wouldn't you clean the windows of your storefront? Then you should also have a website with useful, relevant and timely information, optimized to bring online searchers to your virtual door."
Why does that matter?
While you may have more users of Google, you might have more buyers on search engines like Bing, DuckDuckGo, StartPage and Yandex.
Paying attention to the peculiarities of individual search engines other than Google can pay off. Google matters, of course, but worshipping at the altar of a single search engine can mean missing out on opportunities.
To start, search for your business and relevant keywords on a variety of search engines. If you don’t like the results you see, get to work.
3. Get your keywords, meta tags, links and hyperlocal information right.
When Google altered its algorithm to not include meta descriptions in page ranking, you might have thought you could ignore those descriptions. Not so—at least not if you care about other search engine results.
Some search engines do factor meta tags in their results, so making sure they’re complete and accurate matters. Likewise with keywords and high quality links: These factor in for a number of search engines, but each search algorithm may work a bit differently.
And with the huge number of searches being performed on mobile devices, combined with Google’s amazingly powerful ability to collect user data, your site might show up in local searches on Google, even if you don’t include locally focused keywords. On other search engines, you’d be out of luck.
The point is that spending a little time figuring out what affects search results from a variety of search engines can improve your overall visibility, even in a volatile climate.
4. Don’t focus solely on mobile searches
The volatile climate created by COVID-19 has changed the way we’re accessing and using the internet, and that means you may need to give your web content a little makeover.
Consider this: According to The New York Times, the pre-COVID-19, meteoric increase in mobile searches shifted back toward computer-based searches. That means all the attention you (or your IT team) spent optimizing your site for mobile users and prioritizing information that helps your site rank high in mobile-based searches might affect the way users find your business online.
It’s been incredibly difficult for so many small businesses to continue generating revenue while the world is trying to figure out the new normal. But one can't overstate the fundamental importance of your company’s website. Wouldn't you clean the windows of your storefront? Then you should also have a website with useful, relevant and timely information, optimized to bring online searchers to your virtual door.
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