10 Most Important Factors for Small Business SEO

The online space is changing constantly and every day there is a new product, platform or idea being created to attract and distract business owners. Whilst writing this article there could be a new product being launched that renders this article out of date and so rather than look at the shiny new things available online this article will focus on the fundamentals of online success for a small business owner.

  1. Clear Project Aims – What do you want to achieve online? Are you looking for brand awareness, direct sales, lead generation or is your web site simply a supporting act for your more traditional offline activity? Setting out clearly defined goals will lead to the second key area for online activity which is keyword selection.
  2. Keyword Selection – Once you have identified your project aims you can set about the task of creating a keyword map. The aim here is to identify keywords or phrases that people who are searching, browsing or even fumbling their way online would use to find you. An example of this might be “Cheap Car Insurance” might be a phrase suitable for generating direct sales whereas “Insurance Companies” might be more brand awareness. Google’s own keyword tool is a really useful free offering for identifying good phrases with regular search volumes.
  3. Traffic – Once you have created a keyword map you need to identify the best place to generate traffic. Search engines like Google are usually the best place to start but are you looking for a Pay per Click campaign through the likes of Google Adwords? This is quick and easy to achieve but very often far too expensive for most small to medium sized businesses. Are you looking for organic traffic from the natural listings? This typically needs a good Small business SEO specialist to help but tends to deliver more quality and sustainable traffic. Could social media be more suited to your product i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in or the host of social bookmarking sites like Delicious or Digg? What about the power of video which is becoming ever more important online and traffic can be gained from the video streaming platforms like You Tube, Daily Motion or Metacafe and also direct from the first page of Google.
  4. Traffic Quality – One key factor when deciding where to get your traffic is the quality and quantity you need. There is a fine line between quality and volume – too much attention to the quality and you may not generate enough visitors to convert, too much attention to volume and you may waste lots of money generating leads that do not convert or you cannot cope with. Concentrate on your highest profit margin phrases first and build from there.
  5. Traffic Behaviour – Once you get visitors to your web site they need to stay in the first instance, get to where they need to be quickly and efficiently and once there convert into a lead or sale. If you have a high bounce rate it could be that people are searching for one thing and arriving at a page that says something different. If someone is searching for “red shoes” make sure they arrive at the page within your site that sells red shoes not a page that sells “green track suits” or your home page that talks about your business in general. If someone is searching for ‘sports wear” by all means send them to your home page or a category page that says Sports Wear. Can the user navigate the site easily without needing a crash course in code writing!! Is your site clunky or slow to load if so change it customers will get board, it is a fact that searchers are spending less time on each page they visit and bounce rates as a whole are increasing indicating that today’s searcher is less prepared to dig for what they want and are looking for it to be served to them quickly.
  6. Traffic Conversion – Once visitors are on your site and have been able to navigate or have landed on the correct page you need mechanisms to help them convert. If you have a shopping cart this is straight forward you want them to buy something however if they don’t what next? How can you grab their details so that you can market to them again? It is essential to have multiple reasons for a searcher to leave their details and often less is more here. Rather than giving away every piece of information at your disposal reduce it slightly and get the searcher to ask for it. Give them a snippet of a newsletter or white paper and get them to ask fro the rest (this way you generate a lead), show them a video and ask them do they want more? (another way to generate a lead). Early stage researchers may only want to leave an email address in order to receive a newsletter perhaps whereas a searcher who is ready to buy might leave lots of information to receive full product specifications or a price list?
  7. Traffic Retention – Most small business owners have one chance to convert traffic into leads or sales and that is usually the first time a potential customer visits the site. Many blue chips and larger web site real estate work really hard to create a web site that is appealing enough for visitors to return therefore giving them multiple opportunities to convert traffic to sales. Small business owners however usually do not have the time, resource or subject matter to create a site that engages visitors over and over again with the possible exception of e-commerce sites. This doesn’t mean that small business owners shouldn’t try by introducing videos, industry news updates, company news updates, blog posts, twitter posts, weekly offers or even competitions in order to give visitors a reason to return.
  8. Traffic Profiling – Most businesses will now have some kind of traffic analysis software (often Google Analytics) however few small businesses are conversant with all there functions. With Google analytics for example it is possible to set up targets and goals to track the performance of traffic throughout the site. Traffic profiling takes this a stage further by separating traffic and leads into predetermined categories from early stage researchers to general enquirers and the holy grail of hot leads who are ready to buy now.
  9. Lead Management – Once a lead has been captured it is essential that business owners can store and manage these leads effectively. This ranges from creating categories for leads, compiling a history, prospect system to manage calls and recalls and some kind of filtering system to facilitate target marketing and re-marketing. Even if your site is an e-commerce site it is proven that less than 5% of people who visit your site for the first time will buy something and so it is essential to have a lead management programme to facilitate the other 95%
  10. Re-Marketing – It has long been proven in the world of offline marketing that it takes between 5-7 contacts on average to turn a prospect into a top quality lead or sale and this is no different online. On average small to medium sized business owners tend to contact their prospects only 2-3 times and many only make one contact. This is one major area where a small business owner can truly maximise their ROI when it comes to online marketing by having the capacity to simply and regularly contact their prospect base.

Networking: It’s A Mistake For Small Businesses To Overlook This Marketing Tool

It’s been said, “It’s not about what you know, but who you know.” This phrase applies especially to those who want to master the art of brown-nosing as they climb up the corporate ladder in a large, multi-billion dollar company.

But this article isn’t for those people. This article is for the entrepreneurs and small business owners out there who are wondering:

a.) “How can I get the word out about my company?”

b) “Where can I get more leads and sales?”

c.) “Where can I meet other like-minded business owners and employees to learn and exchange ideas?

There are many ways to market a business. The obvious one is direct marketing such as newspaper ads, flyers, brochures, TV commercials, and radio spots. All of these are great when done correctly. But first, you have to decide which medium is right for you, and then you have to design or pay someone to develop your message. Once that’s done, you sit and wait for a response. Direct marketing works, but it has to be done correctly to get a good return on investment. You probably won’t get it right on the first try and fine-tuning your strategy is the only way to go about get profitable results.

Networking as a Marketing Tool

There is another way to market your business with a lot of extra benefits that you just can’t get with direct marketing. It’s called Networking. Most small business owners and new business owners either don’t do it, or don’t do it enough. Those who are doing it know that it works. There are many ways to network and this article will go into detail on many of them. And no, we’re not talking about “networking” with the stranger at the gas station and telling him all about your business.

My business, a graphic and web design studio, was only a few months old when I realized it was time to start meeting new leads face to face. Yes, I was initially keeping busy as I exhausted the “friends, family and their referrals” resource, but I knew that my business needed something else if I was going to be in it for the long haul. I started with one networking event which I dreaded going to because I did not like meeting new people. I’m great around people when I know them, but I had a hard time talking to complete strangers, especially business professionals.

The first event was a Chamber of Commerce lunch. From then on, my desire to meet other business owners hit the ceiling. I was shy at first, but you just have to throw yourself in with the sharks, so to speak. I quickly got over my fear of talking to new people as well as my fear of public speaking. If you love talking to new people, than you can just skip the whole “getting used to it” step. Some small business owners are very good at running their business, but contact with other people may not be their strong point. That is why you either have to force yourself to network, or have another, more gregarious person in the business do it for you.
Networking is great because there are a lot of things happening at once. You are meeting driven people like yourself. You are talking about your business and learning about other small businesses. You are exchanging ideas that will benefit everybody in the group. Eventually, once people know and trust you, you will start getting leads and sales.

You have to put in the work and time to get results from networking. Networking is about developing relationships and that doesn’t always happen on the first try. There is a lot of commerce going on in our capitalistic society, so when you are producing a high ticket item like a custom website, home remodeling or financial services, people will be much more inclined to buy from you if they trust you. The same principal applies to pretty much anything you are selling. Once people learn that you are a legitimate business owner, then they will have no problem buying from you or referring someone who will.

OK, enough about networking in theory. Let’s explore some groups, organizations, and other ways to actually network.

Open Networking Groups

Chamber of Commerce – Almost every city has one. Some are invaluable while others can be a complete bummer. It really depends on where you are and who is running the organization. Our local chamber of commerce has been great for kick starting my networking bug. Although I met other people in my industry that may be competition, I have actually formed alliances and a referral system for exchanging business with them. In addition, you’re meeting a ton of people in other industries that you can learn from. There are some common factors that apply to all businesses, so its beneficial for you to learn how other people are running their business so you can borrow or innovate upon their ideas.

Just search Google for “Your city: chamber of commerce.”

Small Business Alliances – I know my town has one and it’s incredibly beneficial because they focus on the growth side of running a business. They help with all the questions a small business owner could have like: What do I need to know about my lease, do I want a 401K plan for employees, or who can help me find a good insurance? Anything in regards to the growing pains of a small business! Try this site and see if there’s a local chapter http://amiba.net/. Keep in mind, there are a bunch of other small business alliances that don’t have to do with American Independent Business Alliance. My SBA is actually a local one that is not associated with the AMIBA.

Meetup.com – Yes, there’s actually a site out there that networks people and brings them together in real life. I have yet to go Meetup.com event, but that’s only because I found out about the site a few weeks ago. It looks very promising. The “Meet-ups” are usually free, and if they cost money then it is usually going to pay for food, drinks, and the space.

Meetup.com has every kind of group imaginable, from single mother meet-ups to Dungeons & Dragons meet-ups. If you look hard enough, you’ll find the golden nuggets that relate directly to small businesses, entrepreneurs, or even your industry. The good thing about Meetup.com is that you can start your own group if they don’t have what you’re looking for!

Rotary Clubs – We are not part of a Rotary club yet, but it is a well established business networking organization that helps out the community. Being part of a Rotary can add extra credibility to your business. From their site: “Rotary is the world’s oldest service club organization. It’s made up of more than 32,000 Rotary clubs in nearly 170 countries. The members of these autonomous clubs are called Rotarians, and they form a global network of 1.2 million business and professional leaders, all volunteering their time and talents to serve their communities and the world. Individual Rotary clubs, in turn, belong to the global association Rotary International”

Leads Groups – These groups have one goal in mind: networking. Some are national and others have one chapter. Some are open and others are closed. You have to look hard to find these groups, but they can be some of the best resources out there.

Search Google for “Leads Groups: Your City”

Closed Groups
LeTip – This is a networking group that only allows one company from each industry, hence the closed group title. The exclusivity of closed groups is great if you can get in with a good group that has every intention of getting bigger. That means you will have all of the members acting as your salespeople, which is far more cost-effective than hiring a sales team of 20+ individuals.

This group has a greater sense of trust among the members than say a “Chamber of Commerce,” because you are with them every week and you get to know each member and their business individually. There are a ton of chapters throughout the US so check it out at http://www.letip.com

BNI – Very similar to LeTip. One company per industry. Both BNI and LeTip have training programs that help you learn how to market yourself to other people quickly and effectively. The one catch is that closed groups usually do not let you be a part of other closed groups, so you have to pick one you like and stick with it. Loyalty is important. If you have more than one person in your company, divide yourselves among the different closed groups. Visit http://www.bni.com for more information.

Networking is essential for small business growth.

I’m sure I missed a lot of groups in the list because I don’t know what they all are. Some heavy searching on the internet or communication with other business owners can yield some great results for your area.

I’m fairly new to the networking game. I can’t imagine what it will be like a year or two down the road but I promise you it will be exciting. There is no other way to grow a business like small business networking because you’re going to be face to face with like-minded people. They are either going to be your clients, allies, or in some cases both.

One thing is for sure though: if you stick with these like-minded individuals in the groups and organizations mentioned above, your business will grow faster than you could have imagined. If you’re sick of spending money on direct marketing or if you just sit around on your butt wondering why your business is not growing, get out there and meet new people. The worst case scenario is that you’ll make a friend and get a free meal.

Social Media for Small Businesses

Social media has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives. Businesses of all size and shapes have started making the most of available mediums. Today we will try to anatomize tips on social media for small businesses. There are a plethora of small businesses eyeing social medium to promote their business/services. However, majorly these small businesses are failing or not being able to make optimum use of social media for their business growth. There are many theories and strategies on how to effectively use social media for established brands, but the topic social media for small businesses is seldom addressed. According to Digital state of eMarketing India 2017 Octane Research:

60% small businesses promote their business on social media. 50% focus on SEO and 35% use multichannel marketing funnel.
70% small businesses consider content strategy as their primary marketing activity.
52% business owners are using social media as to efficiently address customer engagement.
More than 20% of business owners said that they are making 50% plus profit using social media.

The primary reasons for the low turnout are uncertainty on an application of social media, calculating return on investment and persuade employees/stakeholders to clinch social media. Hence it is important to address the elephant in the room and analyze how beneficial is Social media for small businesses.

Social media for small businesses is a great way for emerging businesses to generate lead and build a reputation. If regularly updated, social media can deliver more results as compared to traditional mediums. Social media for small businesses gives brands an edge of control over the content that they want to post. Also, since social media is a two-way dialogue process, it helps businesses to instantly identify what is benefitting them. Social media for small businesses also helps generate Word of Mouth, which is one of the best tools for emerging businesses.

Social Media for small businesses | 10 Tips to effectively use Social Media

Define your Target Audience
The first and foremost important part that small businesses should focus on is to define their target audience. This helps small businesses to device their social media strategy accordingly. The target audience should be defined basis age group, sex, location, users’ online behaviors, their likes, interests, and preferences. For niche products, business owners can even target users based on their birthdays, anniversaries and important milestone. Audience targeting plays a very crucial role in the outcome of the results. For e.g.: a local shop selling footwear should not target users with interest in entertainment. The shop definitely won’t get the desired results.

Set achievable goals
Overnight success is a myth. Small businesses must understand this basic fact. Generally, when a new business starts selling on social media, there is palpable excitement is achieving more than set targeted sales. Businesses need to set goals which are upwards and forward. To achieve enormous goals, small businesses start updating social feed with multiple updates in shorter duration. This leads to user’s disinterest in the product/service. The set goals should be in sync with brand’s core capabilities and expertise. For e.g.: if a business is into selling shoes, they shouldn’t set a goal to repair maximum shoes in their area.

Choose the right medium
By now everyone knows, social media is for free. Even paid campaigns can be conducted at a relatively low cost as compared to traditional mediums. It is in this scenario, that we often see small businesses jumping the bandwagon and creating profiles on all the available platforms. Creating social profile doesn’t hamper brand image, but aggressively promoting a brand on wrong platforms can lead to brand losing its potential customers. Hence it is advisable for SME’s to first identify the right platform through which they can maximize their business. For e.g.: If a shoe selling brand tries to aggressively sell on LinkedIn, they won’t get a plausible response as compared to promotions on Facebook/Instagram.

Promote your core product/services
Since each and every business is riding in the social media wave, it is important for a them to promote their core product/services. Nowadays, we see a lot of businesses promoting their services as well as promoting peripheral products/services, which revolves around their core product/services. Majority of the times, this SME’s doesn’t have capabilities to fulfill a requirement, which can lead to a bad word of mouth for their business on social media platforms. Let us go back to our example; if a shoe seller is trying to aggressively promote socks instead of shoes, it is not going to benefit the business in the long run.

Create quality content
Now that we have covered the topics of identifying the target audience, setting achievable goals, choosing the right medium and promoting the right product/services let us now take a look at the type of content a business should promote on their social pages. A business should always focus on creating good quality content rather than not-good quantity content. Even if the business updates their page once in a day as long as it is relevant to their business, advocates about its core products send across a clear message it is considered as a good quality content. Antagonistically, if a business posts multiple updates which aren’t even relevant to the business’s products and services leads to users considering the business as fake/spam. Also, new businesses should try and refrain from promoting other businesses on their social platforms initially.

Create a content calendar
Making a small business successful on social platforms is no small task. It takes a lot of efforts for the businesses to keep up their conversion ratio. One such effort is to create a content calendar. Small businesses must anticipate important events and create a content calendar accordingly. Ideally, a content calendar must be planned a month in advance but an even weekly content calendar is highly recommended. This helps businesses to avoid any last minute hassles, strategize much more effectively and it also helps in creating curiosity amongst its loyal fans/customers.

Test and re-test
Social media is highly unpredictable. The content a business posts today, might not work for tomorrow. Hence, small businesses must always test their content before publishing it on their pages. Testing content also applies to the platform a small business chooses to promote. Small business owners must always don the consumer’s hat before posting about any product feature, updates, schemes or offers. A consumer’s perspective is the key when testing the content that has to be uploaded.

Look for inspiration
Small businesses must always look for inspiration from a competitor who is successful in the same category. Copy pasting competitors idea or content is not the answer. Small businesses must look for the kind of content its competitors are putting up and derive their own strategies subsequently. Inspiring content/stories always make a business to strive to create their own content that is appreciated by one and all. It helps in increasing brand consideration, brand visibility thereby increasing conversions for the business.

Calculate ROI
Even a small promotional budget is not justifiable if there is no mechanism to calculate its return on investment. It is more important in case of small businesses. It is very important for a small business to keep a tab on the budgets allocated to any promotions and the subsequent ROI related to it. If a certain promotion is not doing well or the business is not getting desired results, the brand custodian can always look for other platforms to generate quality conversions.

Analyze and Re-strategize
There can be umpteen instances where a particular campaign/promotion might not work for a business. That doesn’t mean that the promotion is wrong or the product/service is not good. Doing an analysis of the campaign is as important as setting the objective. This helps the business to formulate their upcoming strategies in more effective ways. At the end of every campaign, brands must note down the learning’s from that campaign and identify if the content/idea was appreciated by their fans or not. This helps businesses to skip the non-performing updates from future communications.

Final Thoughts
Social media for small businesses is definitely beneficial and fruitful. If followed correctly, small businesses can benefit tremendously from the power of social media promotions.

How To Get High Quality Sales Leads Fast For Your Small Business

September 2008 will forever be remembered in American history. That was the historic time frame when the Government of the United States began bailing out major banks and the Big 3 in the auto industry. That’s when the word recession creeped its way into Americans hearts and minds.

Ever since that dreadful month countless small businesses have closed down. Many entrepreneurs, business owners, sales people, really people from all walks of life have been affected by this recession. They have not been able to adapt to the drastic change in the short amount of time.

Those that have are rapidly chipping away at their golden goose egg that has kept them a float for the past few years. But once used to be a nest egg for retirement has turned into just a few months of money to live off of. Any person that is involved with their community will tell you that small businesses are the back bone of America.

That being the case how do we help solve this problem of so many of them closing down for good? Go into any small or large town and you will see small businesses that have been around for decades no longer open for business. In my observation and speaking with a handful of business owners I am convinced of the main reason they are not succeeding in this new economy.

They have failed to adapt to the new way that customers are doing business. Simply put these small business owners are not putting their product in front of the right customers. They are not marketing. And to be quite honest most can’t afford to spend a single dime on marketing efforts.They are too busy pinching pennies as it is.

So what is the solution to this epidemic? The answer is simple. Leads. Sales leads. But not just any sales leads, high quality sales leads. If you are a small business owner you may be thinking that you can’t afford to buy any sales leads. Trust me I understand.

What if there were a way you can leverage technology to produce targeted leads for your business in an instant?

I’m not suggesting you spend a single dime on these leads. I want to show you how you can possibly save your business from closing down and start generating positive cash flow again.

If you are already thinking that you can’t afford to pay someone to market your business and get these leads have no fear.