I recently had the honor of sitting down with link building guru (and yes, he deserves to be called a “guru”) Eric Ward. Eric has been doing white hat link building for clients since before Google even existed—he’s literally seen and done it all. I got the chance to interview him about his experiences and where he thinks link building is heading, and he had a really interesting comment about website owners struggling to make the time to invest in their small business SEO. Here’s what he said;
Some folks simply do not want to invest in their web site. They want to invest in tactics to make the site they have rank high, regardless of the quality of that site. That’s a mistake I see continuing to happen. And even though I call it a mistake, I totally get it. A guy who is an expert at teaching people how to scuba dive and has a simple web site does not want to spend all his time in his office writing a blog about scuba diving. He wants to be in the water. His expertise is not writing or content or web sites, his expertise is teaching me how to not die when I’m 50 feet underwater. So I understand the frustration and the realities of those types of sites. But there’s also much that can be done to help those sites without having to hire full time content writers or bloggers. Many times it’s a matter of recognizing what you can do to continue to succeed online, rather than what you can do to rank high at Google.
I’ve worked with many small business and website owners over the years, and as a small business owner myself, I understand exactly what he means! There are plenty of small business owners out there that are great at what they do, be it scuba diving instructing, pet grooming, kitchen remodeling or what have you—but they are not experts at small business SEO, nor do they want to be. These business owners don’t have the time to spend 2 hours every day writing and promoting a blog post, building links or creating new content for their site; they’ve got enough on their hands already and just want to know the “trick” to small business SEO so they can get in, get out and get to the top of Google.
But as Eric pointed out, it’s not about what you can do to rank high in Google, it’s about what you need to do to succeed online. There is no shortage of studies stating that sites that rank higher in the SERPs tend to get more clicks, but searchers are getting smarter and they are more likely to bounce from site to site looking for the information that they need. Your small business can take advantage of that! You want to design your small business SEO campaign around the needs and wants of your target audience so that your site is there when they need it.
For example, going back to the scuba instructor—someone looking to become a certified scuba diver is the instructor’s best customer. What kind of questions might they have about scuba diving? They might want to learn about the different gear used, the best time of year for open water dives, how long it takes to get certified, if there are any health restrictions they should know about and so forth. Our scuba instructor may not be the world’s greatest writer, but even he can come up with a short blog post or FAQ answering those questions and more. He has all the knowledge, it just needs to be written down. That way, when a potential customer comes looking for information his site is ready to go! The site might not be ranked #1 for something as broad as “scuba lessons,” but for a more long tail keyword he could be at the top of the SERPS! And remember, long tail keywords, although they drive fewer visitors, tend to convert better.
Part of small business SEO also involves link building. The scuba instructor is never going to have 100,000 links to his site, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have 1,000 quality links that really help his SEO! He could develop partnerships with scuba gear retailers and the pools he offers classes out of, getting a link back from their site. He could get listed in local online event calendars or community guides. He could post videos of his dives to YouTube and link back to the site in the description (those videos can rank in the SERPs too). There are lots of little link building options available to small business owner, even if they don’t have a ton of time to invest in their small business SEO.