Small Business SEO Tip:
Treat your SEO like you’re in the middle of a never-ending a popularity contest because that’s just what search engine optimization is for small businesses.
My daughter is entering her sophomore year in high school and listening to her talk among her peers, remind me of how advantageous popularity truly is – especially for small businesses.
As an experienced SEO consultant, I’ve run hundreds of SEO campaigns, and nothing has been more apparent to me, then how popularity plays into search engine optimization.
Search engines like Google, favor popular sites over newer (unknown) sites and it’s easy to see why. There are thousands of new websites launched every day, and most sites rarely get updated, contain syndicated content, were built to serve as link farms and most commonly, offer little to no substance.
Simply put, if you’re popular, you’re doing something right, so Google likes you better than your competitors.
There are also business websites who become so popular they tend to get away with pushing some of Google’s webmaster guidelines, yet still, dominate organic search engine rankings. Such popularity puts businesses above the law (the law being Google.)
Here’s an example;
If you visit The Washington Times website on your mobile device, you’ll notice that there are just as many ads as there are content. The Washington Times also place ads in the content so often that it’s easy for any reader to incidentally click an ad while scrolling (this is a problem.) If I made this SEO recommendation to a small business owner/client, their site would more than likely take a massive hit in Google SERPs. The WT still wins an estimated 3.5 million clicks from organic search per month. Why? Because of popularity.
The image above is an SEO domain overview provided by the free version of SpyFu.com on August 16, 2017.
Disclaimer: If you ever find yourself in the position to have such high popularity, don’t violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. The guidelines are to help you make sure that your site visitors can have the best experience possible and should be a major part of your online marketing strategy.
Why bother worrying about SEO for small business if it’s just a popularity contest?
Why bother worrying about SEO for small business if it’s just a popularity contest? Good search engine optimization forces you to work on the parts of your business that will make your site more popular.
The advantages of being popular (especially in the search engine optimization industry) are that it can get you an infinite amount of the right kinds of traffic to your site with little to no effort at all.
It’s a pain in the ass answering questions from clients who claim that this business did it, why can’t we? My response is almost always, “because they’re more popular than you.”
SEO tip for small business, treat your SEO like you’re in the middle of a never ending a popularity contest – Jason Moore, SEO Consultant
By now, I hope you understand how important it is to make your small business popular, but easier said than done.
How-To Make Your Small Business Popular (aka Small Business SEO)
You have to be different, have a unique value proposition. I know this sounds like business school, but the only way to become popular with search engines is to offer something different, or at least offer the same thing but in a different way.
Once you define what makes you different from everyone else, you need to think about backlinks.
Backlinks, inbound links, incoming links, linkbacks, you hear people using these SEO terms interchangeably, but they mean the same thing. If any website links to your site, you have a backlink.
Get as many high-quality backlinks as possible. However, do not buy them. You can get them organically over time, or you can build a backlink strategy to help you develop the necessary relationships with bigger businesses.
A backlink strategy is a form of off-page SEO and is how Google and other search engines measure the popularity of any given site.
Now, not all backlinks are created equal. Sites that have a high domain authority (popular sites) make your site more popular while sites with low domain authority (unpopular spammy sites) can hurt your scores.
Think about this, if I owned a pizza shop and my mom says that I make the best pizza in town, I may get some new customers, but most people who know my mom can easily say that she’s just promoting her son’s business. However, if Robert Downey Jr. says I make the best pizza in town, my pizza sales would go through the roof.
My pizza shop just became popular because Iron Man just gave me his endorsement – I’m cool by association.
Websites work the same way, so to make your small business website rank higher in Google, you need sites with high domain authority linking to your site.
To use this small business SEO strategy to make your small business more popular, you’ll need to get high-quality websites/business to link to your site. Popular sites not only help increase your domain authority, but they also provide plenty of traffic from their vast audiences.
- Check your current backlinks and eliminate low-quality and spammy links. Removing bad links will help free you of potential Google penalties — see Penguin and Fred.
- Make a list of at least ten websites who you are related to your industry that have a high domain authority.
- Brainstorm a minimum of ten ways that you can add value to each of the ten targeted websites (guest blog, add information + resources to specific blog articles, etc.)
- Locate a working email address, call, or write to a member of the organization and explain how you can add value that is relevant to their business.
Remember backlinks are one of the biggest measurements search engines use to establish your online popularity, but that’s not the only thing. Many SEOs, including myself, believe the having great content on your site is the single most important factor in search engine optimization. Without great content, it’s tough to win backlinks from high-quality sites, so you’ll want to make sure your content is valuable to your customers.
If providing great content is critical for small business SEO, why does Papa John’s beat us in search engine rankings?
For one, Papa John’s is more popular than you. Didn’t you see the Peyton Manning commercials? Papa John’s may have little content on their site, but they do have great user experience and make it easy for customers to order online.
The content they do have provides user’s with nutrition facts about each of their products, includes a section for Spanish speaking audience, and makes it easy for customers to leave feedback. Their strategy provides the ideal blueprint for all other smaller pizza restaurant websites.
Papa John’s also has a massive social media outreach, so take a lesson from them. If your customers are on social media, you need to make sure you step up your game because social signals are also a major factor in measuring the popularity of a business website.
Your social media strategy needs to engage customers, drive traffic to your website, and increase your brand awareness. A not-so-great site can still become popular with a unique value proposition, brand content and a strong social media presence.
A perfect example is The Washington Times scenario. Their headlines are attention-grabbing and shareable. Since I’m a sports fan and live in Maryland (a Washington D.C. market,) I visit their site often enough to contribute to their strong social media outreach and inadvertently help their search engine position rankings.
Search engine optimization for small business is about doing the right things on and off your site to become popular. To become popular, you must;
- Engage your audience via social media profiles
- Ask happy customers for positive testimonials on review sites such as Yelp and Google My Business
- Get involved with your community through event sponsorships and initiatives (enough for local news to want to feature you in a story)
- Write unique and valuable content on your site and update frequently and consistently
- Ask your customers to visit your website and be sure your
- Backlinks count as votes of popularity, so establish relationships with sites with high domain authority and ask for links
- Branding is the easiest way to win searches, do not neglect your brand
Each business and industry will require a different strategy and certain mediums may not work for your organization.
However, search engines favor popular websites of popular businesses, so examine your competitors and figure out what makes them popular.
Learn about SEO Consultations with Jason Moore.