In today’s day and age, the vast majority of purchases begin with online research. There are many small business strategies that will help you get noticed. So even though your customer is likely going to get in touch with you face-to-face, the reality is that they’re going to do a lot of research online before they even pick up the phone and call you.
It used to be that people would turn to the Yellow Pages to do this type of research, and maybe they’d look at your ad in the Yellow Pages or see whose name was in the biggest, boldest type, and that’s when they would start calling. Well, now people turn to online research. Even if they’ve gotten your name from a friend of theirs or as a referral, chances are good they’re still going to try to find you online before you ever even hear from them.
That’s why it’s so important that they are able to actually find you when they search for you on the web in search engines. Now what I’m talking about here today isn’t the type of search where they know your business name and just type that in, aka Giggles and Smiles Photography. This is the type of search where they just know that you are a Dallas, Texas wedding photographer who specializes in outdoor weddings. How do you make sure they find you when they type this in? Well, that’s the magic of search engine optimization! The good news is that it isn’t as hard as you think and it’s something most small business owners can do for themselves!
Here’s a fun little exercise all small business owners should do who are trying to learn about search engine optimization. I want you to put yourself in your ideal client’s shoes. What words would your client use to find your business if they typed you into Google? Would they be looking for a ‘cheap plumber in Schaumburg, IL’? A ‘Zagat-rated French restaurant in New Orleans, LA’?
Think about your own specific search behavior. Are you pretty generic when you search for something? For example, do you just search for florist in Bangor, Maine, or do you search for something more specific? I ordered flowers recently for a friend of mine, and I wanted them to be really contemporary and edgy. I didn’t want to just purchase the regular tele-floral arrangement that everyone offers. So I searched for ‘creative florist in Plano, Texas’. I found exactly what I was looking for!
Think about how specific you are in your searches, and try to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about how specific or generic they’re going to be when searching for your business. Most people type in four or fewer words when they are searching in a search engine. Now draw up a list of those words and phrases you think people use in searching Google, Bing and Yahoo when they are looking for what your business offers. Use the free google keyword tool to determine how many people are actually using these same words to search for your business. If you’re unclear on how to go about this process, tune in on January 19, 2011 at 12 pm CST to my JoySTART Your Year presentation on search engine optimization. It’s FREE and will walk you through the steps to make sure you get found in the major search engines.
Or if you don’t want to wait, check out my 20+ page beginner SEO workbook that teaches you step-by-step in less than 3 hours how to optimize your website to get found online.