Greetings from inside the SEOigloo,
My friend, David Mihm, just put up a really super post about the best advice for small businesses he gleaned from SES San Jose 2007. This very valuable list includes some quick pointers about Social Media, Local Search and a variety of other areas smart small business owners will be getting up close and personal with for the health of their business.
I believe that the three biggest developments for the small business owner in the Search Engine world during the past year or so have been:
1) Local Search
This means getting your business into Google Maps, Yahoo Local and various local directories. The ability of local search to drive traffic to your small business is really impressive and I am telling small business owners about the importance of this just about every day these days.
2) Social Media
This broad term encompasses not only getting your business reviewed on sites like Yelp, but also the potential to put your catchy content before an audience of millions via sites like Digg, Reddit and the smaller, better niche SM sites that are slowly beginning to spring up all over the map. Reviews of your business prove your value to potential new customers and can provide both valuable citations and links to your site, and breaking into the big sites like Digg can result in a river of new links flowing to your website, boosting its ranking in the search engines. Important stuff!
3) Universal Search
This is the latest development and refers to Google’s new policy of including links to videos, news, books and other types of content within the regular SERPs. You’ve probably started to see Universal Search in action when you’re performing searches on Google. Recent usability studies indicate that getting a video into Google’s top 10 can be almost invaluable for driving traffic to you, and that the viewer’s eye will jump down to spot #3 or #4 in the SERPs to look at the video. This may be rather disconcerting news for everyone who has been desperate to get that #1 spot if users are going to skip right over the top spots to look at the video, and then, potentially, look at the listings AFTER the video, rather than back at the top of the screen. This presents a whole new interesting set of ideas to us. Universal search may change user behaviour. It’s early days yet, but the one thing we can say for sure is that if you can get something like a video into Google’s SERPs, you are ahead of the game.
The one difficulty with Universal Search is that it may be raising the entry level bar above many small business owner’s heads because of the cost involved in creating media like video. However, don’t give up on this. Chances are, you’ve got a nephew with a video camera who might be able to create something decent enough for your business to be put on YouTube. At this point in the game, you don’t have to have TV-quality video (though that’s coming down the pike thanks to sites like Turn Here). Your viral video content might be funny or instructive in nature, and as I understand it at this point, if you get enough views and comments, Google may take notice and consider your video a relevant result to return for your subject. Small business owners will have to strike a balance between terrific creativity and limited budget to crack their way into Universal Search.
Things are pretty exciting right now in Search for the smart small business owner who is keeping up with his reading on all of this stuff, and I highly recommend taking a gander at David Mihm’s list of takeaways from the recent Search Engine Strategies conference. Knowledge is power!