This guest post is written by Martina Iring of MartinaIring.com.
Yes, I’m talking to you my darling small biz owner.
“I don’t rely on search engines to make sales in my biz.”
“The competition in my industry is way too fierce. There’s no point in wasting my time on search stuff.”
“I’m already at the top of search results for my keywords. So ha!”
That’s all well and good, but I stand my ground. No buts. Let me explain…
Your tags are not just for Google
Website tags are probably the most basic of search goodies. But they are not just meant for the engines to gobble up.
The title tag of your website pages shows up on internet browser tabs. It is public and all your website visitors can read it.
In addition, your title tag and your description show up in search engine results. This means that searchers will decide whether or not to click on your website based on this information.
If you don’t customize the description, Google will usually just grab the first line or two of copy from your web page. For most businesses, this is not the optimal way to “sell” searchers on the merit of what you do. Taking the time to craft an engaging description is time well spent. Do it at the very least for your homepage.
You gotta own your online real estate
Even if you’ve never listed your website in any online directories, there’s a good chance you’re already there. These directories will pull information from your website and set up a listing for your biz, maybe without you even knowing it.
The problem with this?
Well, it’s the directory creating your listing. Not you. And there’s usually lots of holes in the information. It might just be your business name and contact information. No description. No logo. No key information.
By claiming your listings, you control your message and your information. This puts your business in the best light possible and shows that you care enough to take the time to polish your profile.
This is the best case scenario.
The worst case is that your business is not there at all. People do use major directories to search for local businesses. Make sure they can find you.
So where should you start? I recommend to claim your listings on the main directories. Google Places for sure. Do a quick search for your keyword and location, and see what other directories pop up on the first page. Then make sure that your business is there.
When you Google your business name, do you show up?
(If you have never Googled your business, drop everything and do it right now. See if your business is there and then see how your title and descriptors look, as we discussed above).
I was working with a little mum-run business, and her business name consisted of very common words that lots of other businesses were using. This meant that her business was buried deep in results and not showing up on the first page. Do you know how many searchers go beyond page 1?
So how did we remedy the situation? Some simple tag optimization and some business listings were all it took. She is now #1 on page 1 when you search for her business name.
Keyword research is not just about pleasing the search engines
Yes, keywords are the basis of search engine marketing. But this does not mean they are just for the search engines.
The marketing principle behind keywords is that they are the words that your potential customers use to search for your product or service. Doing a little digging into what words people use to find your business lets you get into the heads of your potential customers. So that you can speak in their language in all your communications, including your website.
Don’t you want new visitors to feel they have landed in the right place?
Be at the ready to handle competitor shifts
So you’re already where you want to be in the rankings without having done a thing to optimize your website. That’s great! But how long will it stay this way?
You never know what your competitors are doing. Or which new businesses will enter the market. If they’re search savvy, they can blow your website right out of the water (or rankings race). Then you’re scrambling to get your optimization going.
When you have to start from scratch and do it ASAP, it’s a big job. By having the basics in place, this will be a much more manageable situation and you’ll be ready to dive into more advanced search strategies.
Or maybe your competition is just too stiff. That doesn’t mean you should do nothing. It takes time to work your way up the rankings, and the longer your site has been around, the better. By doing the basic things listed above (tags, using your keywords and getting some listings), you are making it very clear what your site is about.
And slowly but surely, as your website builds up over time, it will start to move up the rankings. Overnight success is generally not possible in the world of search marketing. But with patience, who knows where you’ll end up?
Have you search optimized your biz? Share your successes, or let me know your struggles. I’m here to help!
Martina Iring works with entrepreneurs overwhelmed with all that web stuff. She’s on a mission to help the little guys make sense of internet marketing, teaching small business owners how being online is not only profitable, but enjoyable! Her blog, Small Business Bliss, offers gobs of marketing info and doses of inspiration just for little biz owners. Want FREE internet marketing services for your small business? Find out how.