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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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Search Engine Optimization Just Got Tougher – Tips For Small Businesses

 

It has been a long time coming. Google, Bing and Yahoo are upgrading their data analysis methods and search ranking algorithms to make searches serve users and not websites.

To achieve this, search engines now try to determine factors that can be used to judge user experience on a website.

“Gone are the days when you paid an SEO company to cheat Google with keyword-packed content, links from all kinds of websites, and metadata tweaking. These are now being replaced by mobile experience, site structure, content relevance, quality links, and website content quality as ranking kings.” - Seo Experts Rank No 1 SEO

TODAY, THE USER RULES

SEO has become about the user’s experience, and not how many users you herd to your website. You see, search engines are monitoring their internet browsers to determine user experience on websites (who knows what else they use the information for?). So, you can no longer get away with getting millions of visitors to your site in a day, most of who leave your site unsatisfied.

Now, the question is, if a site visitor found you after typing certain words into the search engine, are they able to get satisfaction on the purpose they sought you out for? How long do they stay on your site? How many web pages on your website do they visit? Do they come back? Do they convert?

What about site speed? How about local SEO? Is your site adapted for mobile devices? Most searches today (60%) are done with mobile phones. How easy and quick is it for users to explore your site on their mobile devices? If your website is not mobile-friendly, you can forget about ranking in mobile searches.

Then there is the issue of inbound and outbound links. For example, if you get an inbound link from a site that is flagged by Google (well, google is the one making all the noise…and that’s what most people use), or one that has a low authority classification, your ranking will be hit.

Getting links from websites that have no relation to your industry will also hurt your ranking. Again, if there are several links to your website from one source, Google will get suspicious of you. You will be penalized. Period.

 

THIS IS GOOD NEWS FOR YOU

What’s the lesson from all of these? Google essentially wants to increase the number of site visits that convert into sales. Any kind of sales. And, as a small business, that’s exactly what you want, too.

Let’s get some perspective on this. Unless you want to rely only on return visits, you need to be concerned about SEO.

Most first-time visits to a website are from clicking on a link from search engine results. And, how many times do you go to pages 3, 4 and so on, on a google search?

SEO is effective and inexpensive, especially for a small business. When done properly, with on-site and off-site optimization, it is your best advertising and networking tool. SEO, with proper monitoring, gives you insight on how your target audience think and behave. It helps your branding efforts, and guides your repositioning.

Social media marketing may boost your image; pay-per-click advertising will drive income; but a properly done SEO is your enduring online partner.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Ok. You’re probably reading this because you already know how important SEO is. The point here is, being seen is no longer as easy as it used to be.

Recent developments in search engine optimization make SEO more, and not less, vital. Google and other search engines are introducing algorithms that are accounting for almost every aspect of internet activity to ensure that:

  1. Website visits are from genuine sources
  2. Website visitors have a good experience
  3. Potential customers become clients

So, say goodbye to quantity and embrace quality.

If you want to handle your SEO in-house, here’s a good place to start. If you are going to engage an SEO company, that’s a good idea. But, be careful who you give your money to. Here’s just a few red flags to look out for when choosing an SEO agency today.

 

They promise you viral content:

If you are a local business, you do not need to go viral. If you are a brick-and-mortar business, do not waste your money on an SEO company that insists you need to go viral.

Not only do you not need it, it does not work 99% of the time. Focus on delivering excellent service, great website experience and good link structures.

They are neither local nor specialized

SEO is no longer about numbers and percentages. It is about the audience. As a small business, if you want to create an impression on your local audience, you are best served engaging an SEO company that understands your audience and has the specialization to serve your industry. It is only logical.

You will also want to have easy access to the people you are paying handsomely to make your online business succeed.

So, if you have are in Manchester for example, look for an SEO Agency in Manchester that is best positioned to serve you.

They claim to optimize websites with one or two magic touches

SEO rules and algorithms continue to change. With recent changes there will be much to do and continue to do in order to optimize and maintain your website ranking.

SEO is a robust process and it involves many aspects of internet activity. It takes time to achieve, and it never stops. Good SEO professionals will make this a lot easier. However, unless they work with Google, Bing or Yahoo, they will still need time. They will need time to learn and put in place everything needed to put and keep your site in search engines’ good stead.

In general, avoid SEO agencies that make outlandish promises. SEO will always be a good and necessary investment. But, the times are changing fast, and so must your SEO strategy.

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