If you own a small business, then you know drawing a lot of traffic to your business – both online and in the real world – can be accomplished via search engines. Of the current lineup of search engines, Google is still king and master.
As undistributed leader in search engine traffic, Google has a lot to offer a small business. Success in getting a spot at the top of the rankings is predicated on how well you develop and execute a content strategy. The days when a business could purchase traffic through AdWords or backlinks and experience more traffic are long gone.
Today, Google’s goal is to enhance the user experience, and they’ve gone about achieving it in a systematic way. Businesses that have been quick to adjust to search algorithm changes by Google have enjoyed the advantage of being first movers and grabbing top spots on search engine results.
Google has been evaluating web properties for trust. Their focus has broadened from putting up good content and getting backlinks to building a brand. Yes, small businesses are being rewarded for establishing themselves as a brand. When that brand becomes something people can relate to and trust, Google with its “eyes and ears” everywhere picks up the signals.
Where do these signals come from? Social media sites are hotspots that furnish Google with plentiful information. There are numerous examples of small businesses that are diligently cultivating a presence on social media sites. They’re reaping the rewards in the form of a jump in the SERPs on Google and a consequent traffic boost.
Press releases, webinars, and podcasts are other signal generators. A variety of content and its widespread distribution helps disseminate the word on your small business. User engagement and reviews or endorsements are used to verify the quality of the company and its brand. Having a reputation for quality improves your ranking.
When you market your content, try to ensure that you get found on sites that enjoy Google’s trust. For videos, it could mean YouTube, and for images it could mean Pinterest or Tumblr. Links from these sites leading to your small business website carry weight. Essentially, SEO in its latest fabrication stresses offsite content on trustworthy platforms… and of course quality content.
An ancillary benefit of spreading out is that while such content helps you get organic search rankings, it also drives direct traffic to your site. Just ask any small business with a following on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Speaking of Google+, authorship of quality content is a big ranking factor and your Google+ profile enables you to have your smart visage appear alongside your website on the search results. Of course, it is smart strategy from Google to promote Google+, but authorship equals ownership which equals accountability. And with their name on the line, businesses can ill afford poor business practices. Their rankings can sour as can their reputation.
Google+ has also assumed significance because it offers businesses the opportunity to create local Google+ pages; these pages enable customers to get in touch with the businesses’ physical location, if any. The three attributes which Google stresses with respect to local business related information are name, address, and phone number (NAP). Google+ is a great place to put up this information; especially if you can succeed in building a community. These attributes constitute crucial information from the point of view of local SEO and you also need to have them present in the “rich snippet” section of your page HTML. Google considers this as good SEO practice and you will be rewarded with a higher position on the results page.
Other sites to put up NAP information include Yelp; Angie’s List, and Yahoo Local.
Apart from these, the time-tested steps still hold true. These include creating first-class content; getting searchers from Google to land on a content-rich landing page instead of a regular / generic page on your site; and judicious use of keywords.
Finally, remember that this template of activities is not Google-specific. You will benefit from organic traffic coming via Yahoo and MSN too.