Small businesses are typically a locally or regionally-based company. They are unique to the area, and one-of-a-kind. That being said, many need to rely on local Search Engine Optimization (SEO), in order to get their businesses well represented on Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. Trademark Productions had the wonderful opportunity to welcome David Mihm, an individual who has a rather long resume, but knows a thing or two about local SEO and the search ranking factors that go along with it, to the SEO Web Talk Radio Show.
Mihm, an online marketing consultant, writer, columnist, and speaker at a number of SEO industry events, promotes search friendly web sites for his clients throughout the United States. He’s on the board of directors for SEMPDX, Portland’s Search Engine Marketing Trade Organization, and Vice President of Partnerships. Mihm currently writes for Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan’s site, all the while working on his local search ranking factors project. You can also find him on his own blog, Mihmorandum, sharing excellent advice on local SEO to others .
Thousands of businessmen and businesswomen have all taken a unique route to get where they are today. Some network, others find their calling through talents. But, many, like Mihm, fall into the “I just fell into it” route. Regardless of how individuals get to where they are, they are all very knowledgeable and well-regarded in their field of choice.
“So I kind of got into local search kind of by necessity. I have worked with small businesses on their websites and their online marketing for five or six years and just kind of stumbled into local SEO because most of my clients were getting traffic from their particular geographic areas… I just really started as I said by necessity, and started writing blog posts, and figuring out who the other thought leaders in the space were.”
In order for a small, local business to survive, how you market your company online can be done either with the help of a professional or simply by doing it yourself. Whether it is through website design, SEO, or local search, marketing projects are flexible with how you go about getting things done. No matter which avenue your company decides to take, success is more than possible.
“I think any business can get traffic coming largely from geographically-targeted searches. There are plenty of things that you can do on your own, and if you’ve got time and not money, just ask the consultant for a document with recommendations for things that you can implement yourself. And if it’s something where you don’t feel comfortable sort of taking that on, then you engage in more of a project basis or a retainer basis with that agency.”
There are always good and bad firms in any business realm. Some will do what you ask of them, and others are unable to fulfill your desires and wishes. SEO, while a very successful Internet industry, can also be run by firms who don’t necessarily use the best business skills, which in turn, raises red flags for those who are looking into hiring them as their agency of choice to promote their business.
“I think most of the good SEO firms out there work on a word of mouth type of basis, and their work will speak for itself, rather than having to go out and actually sell what they’re doing.”
In business, numbers need to match. With SEO, numbers mean everything to a business trying to market and promote itself to a certain demographic. In saying so, if your numbers are lacking, compare yours with a fellow competitors, and try to figure out what they are doing right. Everything needs to be tested with a little trial and error.
“[To] make sure that your site is indexed properly, do a search in Google for site:yourdomainname. See how many pages Google has in its index for you. Does that match sort of what your IT department is telling you as far as how many pages you actually have on your site? I think for larger companies, there tend to be many more technical concerns as well as process concerns… I think it’s much easier to assess what you need. Look at your competitors. Are they doing certain things with social media? Do they have a great Facebook presence? Are they on Twitter with 10,000 followers? Look at how successful people in your space are doing, and try to get a sense for, if you are in the same ballpark with them, or do we need someone to come in and really help us maximize our presence?”
Small, local businesses, to no fault of their own, are already behind the eight-ball as they struggle to survive in their particular market and geographical area against the bigger, more well-known companies. For small businesses, local search can become one of their best friends, as well as the one thing that may separate them from an operational to a closed business.
“In local search, reviews are really important; not only for ranking, but also for conversion. So when people come across your business on Yelp or on City Search or insider pages – depending if you’re in Travel and Trip Advisor and those kinds of sites. What other people are saying about you not only helps you rank better, but also gets them to call you. And so being very active at monitoring – what people are saying about you, encouraging people who have had a good experience at your business to leave a review for you on one of these major portals.”
With many websites and companies on the Internet, users always have their own individual opinions about them. Some may think that what they have to offer is top notch, and others may not be as impressed. The same can be said for search engine ranking listings, as some companies may be able to provide the results that a business needs to get to the top of a search.
“I think that the value of Dmoz has certainly dropped in the last several years. I think it’s the type of thing where you try to submit once there and if you get in, great, if you don’t, you know spending your time on something that’s going to be a little bit more fruitful for you.”
As more and more users need information on a certain topic, Wikipedia is the go-to source for just about anything and everything. While its credibility may be questioned, due to editing of facts that can be done by any user visiting the website, Wikipedia is a great avenue for small businesses to explore through linking. Getting the word out about your company and brand now can go much further than a Google, Bing, or Yahoo! search engine listing.
“I think a link is a link and whether or not it’s passing juice, if it’s on a site where people who are interested in my service or my product are going to be interested in it, I think it’s an important link to have. If there’s a particular topic page on Wikipedia that’s incredibly germane to what it is you do, write a piece of content that’s not salesy, that’s informative to people that can be used as a reference, and I think that that content is going to hold value and hopefully accrue links from prominent sources.”
While there are many opportunities for a small, local business to survive using the multiple ways that local search can be utilized, David Mihm has shared with us his insight and knowledge the do’s and dont’s of the SEO realm, on a much more personal scale. As he attends and speaks at more SEO-related conferences, his knowledge and learning more about the craft of his trade grows, which provides listeners with a voice that they can trust.