The SEO Concept & Marketing – The Importance of SEO for the Success of Your Local Business
I’ve given a few presentations to groups of professionals in different industries recently on the importance of Websites & Search Engine Optimisation in this day and age, and I realised that the content and focus for each was almost identical, regardless of the industry or location.
Each of my seminars has focused on trying to get across the following points regarding the importance of SEO and Websites to the success of your local businesses; these techniques are absolutely vital to the success of your online marketing and in fact, are just as vital to the ongoing marketing for companies, not just where we’re based in Belfast, Northern Ireland but worldwide also.
Things are different in 2014
Things are truly not the same as they were five years ago, three years ago and in many instances even this time last year. As a business your focus has to be placed on how consumers access information. If that is not a clear focus in your marketing (both online and offline) then you need to address this urgently.
By basing your marketing approach around what resources potential customers (and existing customers) use to access content you will swiftly see a marked improvement in visibility and conversion on the ground.
What do I mean by this? Well, it will have become pretty clear to you that social media has developed at a frightening rate, almost like a plague. I don’t say this lightly or flippantly, I’m just trying to clarify the fact that social media (Facebook & Twitter in particular) has pervaded into every aspect of life…[hr]
NOTHING IS SACRED!
[hr]As of late 2011, it was possible to share everything you do on your Facebook profile to your followers: The music you’re listening to, where you are having coffee today, what your latest tweet was and where you last ate a doughnut. The same is true on your websites due to the ever-more inter-connected plugins and platforms that make social media, blog and websites so connected. Also…
Traditional Advertising is Dying
Another thing you will need to get to grips with are the behaviours that consumers exhibit when they come into contact with information. For instance, as a business owner you will have been aware in the past that when someone realised that they needed a new service provider such as a dentist, solicitor, designer, they would have taken this information and gone straight to the Yellow Pages or the local phone book. Does that sound accurate?
That was all true in the early-to-mid 2000’s, but what is the default method of gathering information now?
Nobody uses phone books any more, at least nobody that you want as a client. So please do not pay for advertising in these antiquated and near-obsolete platforms. Everybody will go straight to Google, Yahoo or Bing and search for what they need –
“Solicitor in (insert your area)”
“Best graphic designer in (insert your area)”
“Holistic Medicine Services in (insert your area)”
Why You’re Not Getting Business Through Your Website – You’re Just not “In the Mix”
As a business, if you’re not aware that this is the general process, you’re going to be failing because you’re just not ‘in the mix’ when people come to search Google.
What about the portion of business that historically would have come from people searching the phone books for your type of service in their area?
Don’t get me wrong, the majority of your business will still surely come from word of mouth, traditional marketing (brochures, leaflets, radio) and so on (unless you’re solely an online retailer or service provider), whether you’re a business relying on local trade or not, but what about the portion of business that historically would have come from people searching the phone books for your type of service in their area? Trust me, that portion of business is still out there, it’s just that their behaviours and resources have changed. You just ain’t gonna get that business if people can’t find you in search engines.
It’s pretty much a given that every industry is more competitive now than ever before and that means you need to be smarter than ever before when it comes to marketing your company (online in particular) if you want to stay ahead of the competition and get a share of your market in this way.
Here’s the Basic Solution to SEO
1) Get a Website (but not just any website) –
It amazes me how many people try to get away with having a cheap (by ‘cheap’ I mean poor & cheap) website or worse yet, rely on a Facebook page or Twitter account, simply because they’re free. Trust me, this happens.
Just make sure that you get a high-quality website which is designed well, functions beautifully, and has a number of the following essential protocols… Employ a good company that you feel you can trust to do this, or use the training which will soon be available at http://www.totalwebsiteblueprint.com which is a training program that shows you the exact steps to take to make your own SEO’d, Content Managed, professionally designed website on a budget.
2) Content Management for Websites is a MUST.
Make Sure The Website Is Content Managed. WITHOUT FAIL. This means that you have a content management tool which you can use to adapt, update and improve your website over time, in-house.
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people making every day… not getting a website that they can control, update and develop over time. If this describes you, you’ve most likely wasted the vast majority of your investment into the website.
You have to ensure that your website is going to have the room to grow as your business develops. Without that it will almost certainly mean that within 1 year of investment, your website will be outdated. What I mean by that is that the content will be old and it may not reflect where you are right now as a company (your service list might have changed, your offers may have changed and so on).
In addition to this, you might as well flick the ‘off’ switch in terms of your website’s SEO performance if you don’t have a CMS or someone who knows how to update your website on your team. Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true.
3) Regularly Update Your Website
Once you have a CMS of course, you gotta make use of it. There’s no point in leaving your website stagnating in a state that isn’t touched for months on end. Search Engines aren’t big fans of this as it shows you have no interest in your website; their thought is ‘why should we’. Ensure you update your portfolio, your blog, your information and/or your product or service range regularly to stay in favour with the search engines.
4) The Content of Your Website Matters
The next big mistake businesses is failing to realise that it’s all about content. Your website needs unique content. And a lot of it. It needs images with alternative tags. It needs a specific site map for search engines to index. It needs good imagery to attract new customers. It needs functionality to draw those new customers in, explain what you do and keep and upsell to old customers. It needs to get your message across efficiently so even a first time visitor will be able to work out what you do and what they need to do to avail of your services. Please, if you do nothing else this year, focus on making the content of your website better.
5) Blog & Use Social Media to Raise SEO & Exposure
These are the two best forms of driving (qualified) traffic to your website. What I mean by ‘qualified’, is traffic that is interested in what you do and the value you can offer them. Not people who are just clicking on a link on Facebook because your ad appears on their screen and they liked the picture.
There are some very real obstacles to this however and many people are reluctant to get involved in this, no matter the benefits it can bring their business. My clients often say two things:
“I don’t have any content to blog about”
“I’m not that interested in social media”
I have two problems with this attitude…
Firstly, you do have content (and lots of it) to blog about, regardless of what industry you are in. You are an expert in your field. That means that you have content of real, tangible value to offer your audience. Content that can change their lives, improve their business, their lifestyle, in whatever your area of expertise is.
Secondly, you’re not ‘interested’ in social media? That’s your decision to make, but as a business owner I know that I do plenty of stuff that I’m just not that ‘interested’ in. The difference is I do it because I realise the very real benefits it can bring to my business and therefore the audience it can expose me to and help me offer value to.
That might be using Twitter, which frankly I hate (and yet it brings me more business than Facebook!) or it might be going to more networking events. Whatever it is that you’re ‘not that into’, if it benefits your business, you should just suck it up and make the effort.
If nothing else, I hope this post has moved you to think about your websites and your marketing. The key thing to factor in is that SEO and the success of your website is potentially the most important point of focus for you in your business this coming year. As always, if you have any queries please comment below or email us at [email protected] and I’ll do my best to help you out with any questions you have. Keep marketing your companies, just do it in a smart way!