Small businesses are depending on the internet for clients now more than ever, and that trend is doing nothing but increasing. As I recently heard in a Google Partner event we hosted: “we no longer GO online; we LIVE online.” Simply put, getting enough new leads for your small business requires a good web presence, and that should start with SEO (being visible in organic search results).
The tips you always read in these sorts of articles are the basic stuff: title tags, good content, good page structure, etc., and those are definitely things that should be in order on your site. However, they are also things that almost every competitive business is doing (including your competitors), and these days, it’s taking more than that to move the proverbial needle. To increase your visibility and search engine share in your market, you have to do more.
Correct, Consistent, & Optimized Directory Listings
A good web presence doesn’t just mean a spiffy website that ranks highly in search. Do a Google search in your market and look at the results – I bet you see more than just your competitors there. For instance, I just did a search for “knoxville dentists,” and aside from local dentist websites, I also see YellowPages.com and HealthGrades.com in the search results.
So if you’re a dentist in Knoxville, not only will you want your website to appear in the Maps listings at the top of the search results and in the organic results below that, you’ll also want to appear on Yellow Pages and Health Grades to truly maximize your visibility.
I’ll admit that this portion of SEO used to be the bane of my existence – going to all the important directory sites, claiming a listing, filling out the profile information, uploading photos, and on to the next. Now, we use a tool called Yext Powerlistings, and it has made my work life much, much easier. All of our clients get the premium package as part of their monthly SEO program; however, some of the lower-priced packages are also a good value.
That being said, Yext only covers the major national directories. You should also see what niche directories are most visible/important in your market and get listed on these, too. Every industry has a few: for dentists and doctors, it’s Health Grades, for lawyers it’s Avvo. Just do a google search in your market like I did above and see who’s listed on the first page of Google’s search results.
The best way to build trust among potential clients online is to get glowing reviews from your customers. Consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust a recommendation from a friend. Businesses with positive reviews also look better and more enticing in the search results due to the stars beside or under their name in Maps listings and other places.
Not only should you and your employees be asking for reviews and feedback every day, it should become a part of your marketing strategy. I was recently at an SEO conference, and Aaron Weiche (a speaker at the conference) had some great advice: you and/or your employees should start your interaction with clients by letting them know that you plan to ask for a review to set the expectation, and ask for the review when the transaction is finished. After that, follow up with them via email and ask again for feedback and a review.
We use a system for our clients called GetFiveStars for this as part of our monthly SEO package. This software automatically emails your customer and asks them for feedback. If they leave good feedback, they are asked to review you on popular review sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp (links to leaving a review on these sites are provided). If they give you negative feedback, you are notified so you can contact them before they leave you negative reviews online.
The tool does much more than this: it allows you to collect feedback as a business data metric, market positive testimonials on your site, and more, but the feature of automatically soliciting feedback and reviews is by far its most valuable asset, as it allows you to generate more positive online reviews while giving you a chance to rectify negative experiences before they turn into negative reviews.
Be an Active Participant in Your Local Market
When Google’s algorithms determine your business’ rankings for core search terms, one of the factors it looks at is what I like to call “online brand authority.” That is, how many mentions and/or links does your business have in your local market? These can come in the form of newspaper articles, school websites, community websites, charity websites, industry websites, etc.
I like to think of it like an online popularity contest, and the best way to win this contest is by getting involved in your community and/or industry by sponsoring charity events, sponsoring community events like 5K’s and marathons, offering scholarships, reaching out to local news outlets about something extraordinary going on at your business or with one of your employees.
The key here is to be creative – how can you get your brand exposed in your community? Not only will this help with your search engine rankings, but you’ll be exposed to many new business opportunities simply through your local involvement.SEO Tips for Small Businesses (that your competitors aren't doing)! by @DerekShropshire #seo Click To Tweet
Have any questions or comments? Let us know in the comments below. Need help marketing your business online? Give us a call at 865.357.3600 or fill out the contact form at the top right of this page.