Santa Barbara Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization has become something of a blanket phrase. Confused about what an SEO is/does and how they help you? Don’t feel alone – a lot of us are trying to make sense of this internet-age and what it means for our businesses.

Here’s what you need to know:

Inbound Marketing Is Here To Stay:

If you thought SEO was a blanket-term, well then I present to you “Inbound Marketing.” This phrase is used to encompass all those “free” methods of marketing that the information age has given us. Email, organic search engine results, Social Media, guest blogging, and content marketing all act together to bring people to our websites, and this concerted effort is known as Inbound Marketing.

Visually, it looks a little something like this:

 

Inbound Marketing Graphic

Inbound Marketing graphic. Photo courtesy of Moz.com

 

So there you go. If you’re a small business owner and are wondering why, in recent years, the competition has pulled ahead of you – here’s why: they’re staying up on trends.

According to the 2013 HubSpot State of Marketing Report, 60% of marketers have adopted inbound marketing strategies, and budgets for these strategies have grown roughly 50% for each of the past 3 years.
If you’re interested in more information about the state of Inbound Marketing, I suggest you read it. It’s a 170+ page document, but it’s filled with good insights like this:

“As PPC campaigns become more mature and expensive, B2C [business to client] companies will need to identify new tools to grow their customer base organically. B2C firms that get ahead of the curve by adopting a model fueled by content and customer personas (i.e. “context”) and by coupling it with landing page  optimization and testing best practices will enjoy a keen advantage over their peers who have missed this tectonic business shift.”

Barring reading that massive report, there are other things you can do to help your search engine results placement (SERP). Many Santa Barbara-based business don’t need a full-throttle inbound marketing campaign, they just need a little help getting going.

What’s important to note, however, is that all of these things work together to both improve engagement with your target customer, and helps you to place better in the search engines. It’s a one-hand washes the other sort of thing. For example, Social Media indicators do come into play when Google’s adding up its search algorithms, but they matter because they help you engage with your customers – and they should be used for that purpose, not merely as a Goog boost.

Make me the next Apple

We here at Alchemy On Demand often get the request to “Make my business the next Apple, Chase Manhattan, [enter huge corporate name here].” And while it’s understandable to believe in your business, it’s important to keep things within a frame of reference. What Apple had wasn’t just a multiple-million-dollar advertising budget, but they also had a great product. They made the ipod accessible, sold music in a new way, and made the process not geeky, but simple and enticing. In sum, they had content. Inbound Marketing is all about content. Good content, easily and quickly deliverable, that gets people what they want. If you want people to engage with your business, give them what they want.

Anyhow, enough with the background. If you’re a small business, here are the first three things to do for local SEO.

1.) Make a Google+ page for your business. This is a relatively simple setup and allows you to be found in Google Places. This alone is good for local SEO.

2.) Put your Business’s Name, Address, and Phone exactly as you want it appearing in multiple directory listings in your footer. Then, if you’re not a techie, highlight the data with Google Data Highlighter, and highlight the data as a local business. This isn’t a perfect substitute for microdata markup, because it only applies to Google, but with about 70% of the search market share, it’s good for now.

 

Data Highlighter pic

Where to find the Data Highlighter in Webmaster Tools

 

3.) Get Active – What’s that mean? It means creating content that your customers want to engage with and then giving it to them. Ranking well in the search engines now means that your site has to have authority – which means that it has to have a number of factors, namely longevity (sorry, no workaround on this one), proven trustworthy (not linked to spam accounts, purchased links, etc.), and is a useful resource for people (meaning that people link to it, share it socially, refer to it, etc.). How do you become a resource for people? By creating good content.

If you’re not sure how to go about creating good content for your industry, that’s what we do, and you can feel free to give us a call any time at (805) 625-1031, or you can see our SEO Services, or our Blogging Services.

For more information, see our post on optimizing your local SEO.

 –Hudson Hornick
Alchemy On Demand

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