Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!
Search Engine Land has become one of my favorite places on the Internet. I visit it on pretty much all 5 business days of the week because, frankly, the authority of the authors cannot be beat. The men who run this recently-launched blog are some of the world’s most respected authorities on SEO and Internet Marketing, and it’s pretty much a given that if they say a topic is worth paying attention to, it is.
However, my one difficulty with most of the blogs I read, including Search Engine Land, is that much of the excellent advice being given there simply doesn’t apply to my daily work with small web business owners. I read voraciously, and am always trying to glean usable advice from the writing of the recognized experts in my industry, but when so much of this advice seems to focus on Big Names protecting their Big Brands, managing their reputations, launching viral marketing campaigns that include video media, radio ads, etc…well, I picture myself telling this to a beekeeper in Iowa whose budget for promoting his company this year is about $5000.00, and I get a good chuckle out of it.
And, thus, I was thrilled to discover that Search Engine Land has just instituted a new column on their site specifically for small businesses! Matt McGee’s first post in this new column cited an article he’d read by David Wallace of Search Rank. In the article, David tells about an audience of small business owners he’d recently spoken to at a conference. When he asked the audience of 20 or so people how many of them were doing any kind of search marketing, only two of the people there raised their hands. What this means for you, the small business owner, is that if you are spending the time you need to right now to educate yourself about the potentials of the Internet as a major resource for your business, you are likely ahead of the game.
Isn’t that the best news you’ve heard all week?
I know that, for me, information like this makes me feel like I’m not totally out of the running, being a small business owner who works with other small business owners. I confess, though I love the blogs and forums I read in my industry, I frequently feel like I may be sent to eat at the little kids’ table any minute. Search Engine Land’s decision to recognize that being small can be good makes me feel like I, and all of my clients, have officially been given a chair where the grownups are eating!
3 Things I’ll Be Looking For in the New SEL Column
1) Do they mean SMALL BUSINESSES or do they mean small businesses?
Technically, a small business could be either a realtor with a six figure income, or a talented grandmother who knits shawls and is trying to make rent doing so. Both could be clients of mine. There is such a wide range of budget when it comes to small businesses, and the truly small cannot spend $5000.00 a month on Adwords. No way. I would like to see Search Engine Land genuinely reach out to the little guy with this new column in a way that engages him because it provides meaningful advice about improving his web business on a limited budget. I would urge the SEL folks to think along the lines of Michael Gray’s 13 ways to promote your local business for free, if they really want to be inclusive of all small business owners.
2) Focusing on Real Small Business Topics
Unfortunately, another shortcoming I encounter frequently in my industry is that it can be somewhat self-oriented. I read the writing of bloggers I like who are incredibly hyped about the opportunities social media marketing provide. It’s great that getting dugg on DIGG can lead to tons of traffic, but when you realize the audience at DIGG wants to read primarily about technology and news, it becomes less thrilling. I’m afraid my client who sells cookie cutters doesn’t know how to write an article about how to create the next YouTube, and even if she did, it wouldn’t really relate to her business. How can landscapers, dentists, gourmet companies, dog walkers and therapists use social media marketing to their advantage? Which social sites relate to real world business transactions, and not the heady and elite realm of the brainy guys who love technology? Most small business owners are not designing software or playing with WordPress stylesheets.
It may be that our own industry makes us feel a comfort level with technology that is prohibiting us from providing information to the very people we want to talk to most – our clients! I would love to see Search Engine Land bridge this gap between the techie in-crowd and the brick-and-mortar business person.
For example, a case study of how so-and-so used Magnolia to promote their housekeeping business would be, I believe, of real value to clients like mine. What resources are there for companies like these? Where would be the best place for a small niche business to submit a press release? What does linkbait look like for a guy who sells handmade fishing poles? How can small business owners begin to learn how to look for opportunities the way the big guys do, only at an appropriate level to their needs and goals?
3) Keep it Simple
I often go to recommend that an acquaintance or potential client read an article on a particular subject they’ve asked me a question about. I remember coming across some blog post or resource that really helped me to understand some issue I was struggling with. I’ll be on the verge of recommending this to the other person, when I remember that the article is so full of SEO-speak, the poor individual would need a glossary to decipher the faintest meaning of even the first paragraph.
No one likes to feel like they’re coming in on the middle of a conversation. Constant reading of SEO/marketing materials has eventually enabled me not to have to go to Wikipedia every time someone says Latent Semantic Indexing or Digital Signature. The trouble is, industry insiders are, indeed, carrying on one of the most amazing, ongoing discussions with one another about SEO/SEM that is truly fascinating to listen in on, and sometimes, to participate in. But the typical small business owner is not going to have the slightest idea of what is going on if he drops in at most of the blogs I know of that are being run by the best and the brightest.
How to cope with this? Perhaps a glossary would help. Perhaps starting with the very basics, and then having those basic articles to refer back to via links in subsequent posts would actually enable the small business owner to begin to feel that he, too, could be a part of the conversation. SEL could build up a body of information that becomes the resource for small business owners to come to for the most functional, valuable advice on the web.
Matt McGee & Co., I believe you fellows can pull this off, if anybody can, and I will be reading with considerable interest!