Internet Marketing 101: Modern Search Engine Optimization


How To Take Charge of SEO and Content for Your SMB

You may have heard that you can’t compete with those huge, multinational enterprises online. You may have been told that they can throw so much money at their marketing campaign that there is simply no way you could ever break into the market when these big companies are already dominating every aspect of the internet.

You may have heard all this… but you may be wrong.

In actuality, small businesses have many unique strengths and there are a number of online marketing channels in which those strengths can be a huge advantage.

You may be small, but you can be accessible, adaptable, and personal. Where big companies are sluggish and set in their ways, you can be agile and open to change. In online marketing, that can make a huge difference.

SEE ALSO: Why Google+ and Google Local are Important to Your Local SEO

In part one of this series on how your small business can compete online, we’re going to look at search engine optimization with both a global and local focus.

The Evolution of Optimization

Modern search engine optimization has changed a lot over the years. What worked once may not work again – and in the worst case scenario, it may actively be harming you. A lot of big companies have been caught doing these tactics, and they haven’t been able to change fast enough to stay on top of the trend.

As a small business, you can evolve to keep up with these trends and make sure you don’t get left behind.

SEE ALSO: 3 Common Misconceptions About Online Video Marketing

Having said all that, there are some constants in the SEO world that anyone can use. You don’t have to have a million-dollar budget to get these things right. Start with these elements, and you’ll be ready to move on to the more creative aspects of online marketing:

1. On-Page Elements: These are the things you have the most control over, so start here and make sure your website meets the search engine’s expectations:

  • Quality Content–Content is, and will remain, the king. Make sure your content addresses the needs of your clients, is completely unique, and informs them why they should buy from you instead of the competition.
  • Load Times–Some search engines will dock a website for excessive load times. Internet users will click away from your site if the response isn’t immediate.
  • Mobile Compatibility–The constant shift toward smartphones and mobile devices means your site should be compatible with them. Make it easy for your customers to do business with you from anywhere.
  • Site Navigation–Can you reach every important page on your website in a few clicks or less?
  • Internal Linking Structure–If your anchor-text links aren’t providing any real convenience or value to your customers, the search engines will recognize your attempts to game the system.
  • Keywords–There was a time when SEO strategy got all formulaic about the way keywords should be used throughout your content. Modern strategies are about using keywords to determine subject matter and answer questions, not to meet a usage quota on the page.

2. Off-Site Elements–This is where a lot of companies get into trouble. Google, in particular, has come out in the last couple years and really punished the websites that were using questionable tactics to gain links and drive traffic. The game has changed, and off-page SEO can be boiled down to:

  • Building Relationships – Third-party websites linking to your content are still an important part of SEO, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. If you’re looking for long-term relationships with other websites, you’re doing it right. If you’re looking for sites that provide a quick link for minimal effort, you’re probably headed down the wrong path.
  • Linkable Content – Sometimes you don’t have to ask anyone for anything. You just have to create the kind of content that your customers find valuable – the kind of content that they will be willing to share with others who have the same needs or concerns.

Staying On Top

Search engine optimization is not about throwing money at a strategy and hoping something pays off. It’s about being fast, agile, and personable so you can create the content that fills a real need and attracts new visitors. When you optimize for the customer, you can grow your rankings in the search engines without the fear of sudden penalties.

SEE ALSO: 7 Ways To Re-Purpose Your Marketing Message Online To Find New Customers

Check back next week for part 2, a look at local SEO!

This mini-series is based off of this e-book, Internet Marketing 101: How Small Businesses Can Compete With the Big Guys, written by Rapid Advance. Interested in writing a mini-series for Firmology? Get in touch with the editor!

About The Author

Mark Cerminaro is Chief Revenue Officer at RapidAdvance, a leader in alternative financing. Mark has spent his career advising business owners on investments and helping them access the capital they need to grow. Connect with Mark on Google+ and Twitter.