Last week Jill Whalen and I were interviewed by US News and World Report for about an hour each. If you do a lot of interviews or speak publicly on a subject, you can get a lot of info out in that time. The story ran today, “Small Business Watch: Searching for the Perfect Word can Pay” and it was interesting to see what came out of all that information. It was more like a blog post than a full article on search engine optimization, but hey, it’s a major news magazine so I’m not complaining!
The article mentioned things small businesses can do on their own to get better search engine rankings like performing keyword research and adding keywords to title tags, on the page, having a dedicated web page for each product and getting links from other web sites.
That’s a nice overview of some of the basics, but execution is another thing. It’s like giving advice on how to build a house: draw up the plans, dig, pour the foundation, build the walls and roof. There’s a lot of room for interpretation and also error.
I’m not saying a small business web site cannot rank well without hiring a SEO firm or consultant, but it’s not always a matter of following exactly the same steps for each site to produce the desired results. There can be many variables with each step such as considering seasonality with keyword analysis, emphasizing brand or keywords in title tags, how to address web site technology issues that cause spidering problems, how to write themed content that’s as appealing to search engines as it is your target audience and how to find good links.
There are plenty of resources online to learn enough SEO to make progress. Often times the issue is that many small business owners are wearing too many hats already (accounting, sales, management, HR) to have time to learn the art and science of SEO. Sometimes it’s just worth it to pay a consultant for a site SEO audit and/or SEO training of in-house marketing and web development staff.
I would encourage small business web sites to do their best to learn what they can for “do it yourself SEO” and if it works out, great. If not, they can always contact a search engine optimization firm.