I recently attended an SEO seminar hosted by the Denver BBB. The presenter was Troy Lerner from Booyah Online Advertising, a local SEO firm with clients such as Vail Resorts and Dish Network. The group of attendees was composed of local small business men and women and the information was billed as SEO techniques anyone can do to improve their site visibility. It also turned out to be very Google focused, which is probably best considering it is the #1 search engine.
I’m almost positive I was the only web developer in the room so my take on the information was most likely very different from others. Throughout the lecture, I found myself pulling quotes from Troy and writing information and questions I had for each. I was able to pin him down afterwards and get him to elaborate on some of the more surprising comments he made. Below contains some of the key information from the presentation that all small business owners should know.
5. “Nobody clicks Google Ads.”
Although initially this caught me off guard, further elaboration tends to make more sense. Google’s Adsense business model is based on volume. Google takes a cut on all ad clicks, the price of which is determined by bidding on keywords. Even if the majority of people don’t acknowledge the ads anymore, the very small percentage that does click makes up a significant portion of Google’s revenue.
- Google reported revenues of $6.82 billion in the second quarter of 2010.
- Google-owned sites generated revenues of $4.50 billion, or 66% of total revenues, in the second quarter of 2010.
- Google’s partner sites generated revenues, through AdSense programs, of $2.06 billion, or 30% of total revenues, in the second quarter of 2010.
Therefore, although running PPC campaigns for most businesses is not the most effective use of their SEO time (and dollar) investment, it still is a viable option.
4. Google Rank
The main factors that help determine your page rank are:
- Technical – page titles including keywords, clean, validated code.
- Content – body copy supports the title; use the h1 tag, alt attributes.
- Trust – keywords in anchor text, links from other sites.
3. “No value beyond a top 10 ranking”
If people don’t see you on the first page of their search, they won’t find you. Rarely do people scroll through the pages looking at all the results. Typically, if they don’t find what they’re looking for, they just change the search term.
Some of the easier things people can do to improve the SEO of the site can be found using Google Webmaster Tools:
- Crawl errors – If a search spider encounters code errors in your site, it may miss vital information. Validate your code!
- Duplicate page titles – Having the same page titles across your site doesn’t allow you to take advantage of this piece of code. Google uses the test in a Page title as part of it’s rank as it lets people know what the page is about. No page on your website is the same, why are your titles?
- Site speed – One of the newer hot buttons, page load speed can definitely affect your rank. A slow page is less desirable than a fast one, let alone that visitors may not wait for a page to finish loading before they move on. Keep your file sizes small!
- Robots.txt – This is a file that tells the search spiders where they can and cannot go. All sites should have one, most of which allow the spider full access.
- Sitemap.xml – The roadmap of your site. One of the easiest ways to show search engines all the links to the pages of your site.
2. “SEO does not happen on your site”
While I disagree with the presenter that there is low value in clean code and great content, the point still holds true that outside links to your site count for the most search engine recognition. Booyah claims it’s as high as 60% and I can easily see that number being accurate.
Building quality links to your site is probably the best use of your time once you take care of the technical details. There are several opportunities to get your site listed on various other sites including forums, business directories, and phone listings. However it’s important to know that linking in the comments sections of some websites is not a good method as most comments sections implement the “nofollow” tag which prevents your link’s SEO value.
Another area of focus for site position is Google maps. These are also keyword based searches that can be affected by the number of links your site has to it. Keep in mind, it’s not just the links themselves that matter, but also the anchor text that acts as the link (Denver Contractor vs Your Company Name). The first step, however, is to setup a Google account and list your company’s address in the “add a business” section. Then your other SEO attempts will start to affect this important area of Google as well.
1. “Ignore Social Media”
What?! Are you kidding me? Thankfully, this was something I was able to clear up after the meeting. The meaning of this quote was that social media is its own beast entirely and not suitable for the current discussion. In fact, it truly has become its own industry in internet marketing. Obviously, you can’t ignore social networking.
Some of the basics any business can implement are creating Twitter, FB, and LinkedIn profiles and engaging their followers. Company information, special deals, and helpful customer information are just some of the updates you can implement to generate viewer interest.
As you can see, even the experts recommend basic SEO techniques that an average internet user can employ to better their results in search engines. However, the main thing to remember is it’s not just about bettering your position in search results. Ultimately, every business owner should be focused on customer conversion through their website. That’s what makes your company money and keeps the doors open.