Written on February 10, 2011 at 9:02 am, by Steve Strauss
What do you think would be the most powerful, cost effective way to grow your business right now?
a) Start a Facebook ad campaign
b) Engage in some old-fashioned direct mail
c) Work on a little search engine optimization
Option “A” is increasingly a good answer because let’s face it – it’s Facebook’s world and we are just living in it. But that said, creating any sort of online ad campaign usually takes time, money, and trial and error. So while I really have nothing bad at all to say about advertising your business on Facebook, it may not be inexpensive, and it will definitely take time to tweak it and get it right.
“B” is still a fine answer since direct mail has been a tried and true source of growth for small businesses for a long time. The challenge here is that, while it does work, the response rates are not what we would call “incredible.” Two to 4 percent is fine, but nothing special.
Now, for my money, option “C,” search engine optimization (SEO), is still the new and strongest kid on the block for a reason. If you’re not familiar with the concept, SEO is simply the process making your website as relevant as possible in the eyes of a search engine. With just a little SEO knowledge, you can create some amazing search results on Google, Yahoo, Bing, or whatever other search engine platform you like. There is nothing better than having people buy from your site because they did a search and found your web page ranked high. It’s almost free advertising.
Yet SEO is also one of those things that small business people know they should be doing but may not have the time for or the inclination to learn. But you’ve come to the right place, because I’ve got some easy and quick tips to help you grow your business.
Consider for instance the story of Tim Carter, a do-it-yourself home repair specialist. He writes a syndicated column, which he uses for credibility. But more importantly, he has also created a great do-it-yourself website that not only gets more than one million visitors a month, but earns him hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in revenue from people clicking his Google ads.
All from SEO.
Here’s how you can set up your website so it can be found better by search engines:
1. Just do it. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Learn SEO. Master it. There are some great books out there, and plenty of online resources as well. It’s not rocket science, but it does take time.
2. Take a class. Your local community college will likely have SEO classes, and again, there are no shortage of online webinars and such.
3. Create specific pages: After that, the easiest and most immediate thing you can do right now insofar as SEO goes is to create specific pages on your site, chockfull of key words and phrases. If you have a sales staff on the road for instance, create pages for each of the individual products they represent. The reason is that when people search, they search for specific words usually and if those terms are on your specific page, your site will be ranked higher (and therefore found easier).
4. Add video, and optimize it: As I discussed in a previous post, SEO video is one of the best things you can do to get hits and impressions.
5. Start a blog: Search engines love new content, fresh content, and that is where a blog comes in. Sure a blog is a nice, friendly way to connect with customers, but more importantly, for our SEO purposes, a regularly-updated blog creates specific, fresh content, and that helps you get higher SEO rankings.
6. Link up: Search engines also love good links coming into your site (not that you link out to other sites). So get some industry links, and some from other businesses and you are on your way.
So, how’d you do on the pop quiz? If you picked Facebook or direct mail, they’re definitely both viable options to help grow your business. But, if you want to grow your business quickly and with more long term benefits, I’m a huge advocate for SEO.