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Some small businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to compete online, with larger brands spending considerable amounts of money on SEO and Google Adwords advertising. If you’re worried that you are losing ground, then you needn’t despair.
There are some simple steps that you can take in order to improve your online presence. By making use of these techniques, you can manage your own SEO campaign, or add to the work that’s being carried out by an SEO provider.
You may already have read a lot of information about Google’s recent algorithm changes. Conversations about Panda and Penguin can often seem confusing and the situation is made more complex by the fact that a lot of incorrect information has been published and accepted as offering a solid base.
Rather than getting bogged down in the specifics, it may be more useful to take a broader view. By thinking about what Google is looking for, you should be able to tailor your own approach.
Fortunately, meeting the requirements of the search engine is not as difficult as you might imagine.
Identifying Google’s requirements
So what is Google actually looking for? It’s been made clear a number of times, over the course of some years, that the aim should be to present quality content. There are, of course, differing views on what content actually entails.
In general terms, I would say that every article that you write should really be adding something to the online community. If you’re placing new content on your website, then think about how you will be helping out customers, or other visitors to your website. In the past, many website owners have fallen into the trap of writing articles that are purely aimed at impressing the search engines. These would often involve pretty thin content, with the insertion of keywords in a repetitive manner.
Even if you’ve never published such articles, you may well have stumbled upon content of that nature online. It’s incredibly hard to read and fails to present a positive view of your website. Since it’s largely to damage your search engine positioning too, it’s clearly to be avoided.
You can be forgiven for feeling thoroughly confused about what approach you should be taking to link building. Indeed, some would suggest that you don’t need to be doing any link building at all.
The reality is that, in most cases, a lack of inbound links will simply mean that you don’t get anywhere fast. You could try relying on the fact that you have great content on your website and hoping that other website owners will be motivated to link to it, but that’s unlikely to pay dividends within a reasonable timescale. In short, this means that you’ll need to think about increasing your profile.
Some approaches are perfectly legitimate and the link that you receive is almost a bonus. Listing your business within relevant local business directories, for example, may result in the receipt of enquiries. That clearly has value and it should also be noted that plenty of those directories carry a fair bit of weight. It’s a technique that will help your site to build presence and authority.
How about the thorny issue of social media interaction? This is one area where it’s possible to spend an enormous amount of time, without ever seeming to get the rewards that you want. If it’s done properly, however, then it can increase awareness of your brand and also increase positioning within the search engines. As a rule, you should aim to engage when you actually have something interesting to say, or you’re making a special offer available.
You’re reading this article because it’s a guest blog. One of the advantages of guest blogs is that they allow you to spread the word about your knowledge and expertise, building a wider following online and hopefully gaining a few links to your site. Although you’ll often also receive a link from the blog in question, that’s really only part of the appeal. Once again, it should largely be seen as a bonus.
When you are thinking about building links, focus your attention on other websites that will send you visitors and potential customers. Build relationships with other website owners and concentrate on interacting with those in the same industry.
So which techniques should you be avoiding? In my view, it’s absolutely critical that you keep things as natural as possible. This means that you shouldn’t be using software or automated tools to build links, although there’s nothing to say that you can’t use software in order to discover link building opportunities.
On the rare occasions when you outwardly request a link, I would avoid asking for particular anchor text to be used. It’s far better to get links that simply reflect your brand at this point in time.
There have been significant changes to the way in which professionals now approach SEO. As the task of ranking smaller websites has become more complicated, many small business owners have discovered that they need additional help.
By following the core techniques outlined in this post, I believe that you’ll be able to bring your own business to online prominence.
SEO and online marketing consultant Keith Barrett works with www.searchsouthseo.co.uk and writes for a number of trade blogs and journals. He is constantly looking to build knowledge and to share helpful tips.