You have to admire small to medium business owners and operators. They face many challenges in just about everything they do every day. It can be exhausting. But, when it works the rewards are tremendous and very personal because they came at a high price.
Effective SEO can be a significant enabler to the success of a small to medium business. Your online store front is a critical link to your customer base and is vital in helping you bring in new business. But we all know by now that the build-it-and-they-will-come mentality is a thing of the past and for movies about playing baseball in a corn field. Today you have to work hard to drive traffic to your website and that means an SEO strategy.
One of the biggest challenges SMBs face when implanting an SEO strategy is that Google keeps changing the rules. Keeping up with Google is harder than keeping up with the Kardashians. Seriously, though it can seem very unfair at times that just when you seem to have it all figured out the ground shifts beneath your feet. So the lesson here is to always pay attention to what Google says and the changes they make to their algorithm. Google Webmaster Tools is a very helpful resource. It is also a good idea to read a couple of SEO industry news sites as well. They often announce changes and can keep you up to date.
The big changes of late have been with the way Google looks at link building. Links remain an important factor in how Google determines relevance and search results ranking. What did change is the type of links Google now wants to see. It used to be about getting as many links as possible. Today, Google wants to see quality links from authoritative sites. This takes time and requires a constant effort much in the way traditional PR does.
Keywords is another area that has seen a lot of change. Once upon a time you wrote content that included as many keywords as possible to help Google know what was on that page. This lead to sometimes ridiculous content that was of little value to the end user. Now that practice is frowned upon and will be penalized. You are better off writing quality, relevant content about a keyword topic that is of interest to your target audience. Google now places a very high value on quality content.
Take advantage of the webmaster tools to understand where your most important traffic is originating and where people go once they reach your site. If they come and leave quickly, that is a signal to Google that your site is not relevant to searchers. If they stay and look at several pages, this helps to boost your ranking as you are providing information searchers are looking for and offer a user-friendly site. Both good things.
All of this takes time and energy. Something that can be in short supply for a SMB. This may be one of the non-core business activities that is best outsourced to an expert who can ensure you rank well and drive the right kind of traffic to your site. An experienced and proven SEO firm will provide a very strong ROI and let you spend your limited time on your core business where it should be.