I have been navigating the roads of the SEO industry successfully for over 15 years now. As an info nerd and someone that has a passion for what I do, I follow closely with the latest and greatest news in my industry.  You learn over the years that there are certain people you can trust in the industry for news and information, and others that are just a lot of hot air. Knowing the difference is a tremendous value in itself.  One thing I have noticed over the years as a bit of a trend that corresponds with our culture, in general, is that the buzz about each piece of news in the industry seems to grow while the amount each update actually changes the bottom line decreases.  As everyone tries to make a name for themselves in the industry with a Twitter audience, etc. we see all sorts of “big announcements” and “monumental results” to the latest study, and as a guy that is becoming an older vet in the industry, each one seems to have less “newness” to it than the prior. There are some fundamental things to keep in mind as a small business owner when thinking about SEO.  There are definitely ways to “optimize” your positions using better tools and metrics, but if you stick with the fundamentals, which you should be focused on just to be a good business owner, the constant changes in the SEO industry should have a smaller day to day impact on you.

There are “big” algorithm updates every couple of weeks these days as Google themselves says they are constantly tweaking and adjusting the algorithm to make improvements.  Most are subtle, and many small businesses won’t even notice many of them. Here are the basic things that have been true since I started, and that the tools just make it easier to do and to measure.

Create Helpful Content for Your Customers

Make sure customers that want to visit your website have all of the questions answered that they need to be answered to hire you. Seems simple but is probably the most common problem with small business owners. You should have a page and explanation of any service you provide that you would want to sell and you should explain how that process works and even answer common questions you find people ask that may confuse them. Make it as easy as possible to hire you. Have you ever had someone say “I didn’t know you did that”? Don’t let that happen. If you do it and you want to sell it as a product or service, make sure you address it with a page or section on your website. If it is something you specialize in, you probably have more than one page worth of information.

You should have content that addresses the different problems your service may solve. Remember you are the solution to someone’s problem. We live in an age when you need to show your value and what you solve.  Just listing your service isn’t enough. People that are searching may not even know what the service is called, but they know what their problem is. Tell them how you solve it.

If you have content for both the products and services themselves, for those who already know what they want, as well as an explanation of what problems your products or services solve, you will be in a good position to show up. Use your own voice. It is important to have unique content. Boilerplate content won’t stand out. You know your industry better than anyone. Even if you aren’t a writer, put your own voice on to what a professional writer might put together and add some value to generic content.

Make Sure You Mention Where You Can Help

If you serve a particular geography, mention it.  Make your site relevant for that target market.  Again, stay away from generic content.  There may be a particular spin or take on what you offer that is accentuated by your particular market. Just mentioning where you are can help you relate to those in your market. If you serve the Jersey Shore, mention it. If you serve the “Bay Area” mention it.  People like to see that you are relevant to what they need.  The location is another part of their need. This brings us to:

Claim your Google My Business Page and Get Reviews

These are an important for any small business with a local market, but I would even suggest that I have seen situations where it was helpful for nationally targeted businesses. Consumers tend to look for reviews about a business no matter what market they serve, so controlling your GMB is a great way to do it and have a little more control over it. Also, the words people use in their reviews help to give your business relevance to those types of services. Always be asking for detailed reviews and make it as easy as possible to leave them.  And of course, do a good job. If you are doing things well, your review score will be fine. Don’t fear the negative review from time to time. Reviews are actually a great way to see how the public views how you are doing things, so keep an eye on them as they may tell you if something is wrong with your process.

Be Active in Your Community

Get involved. This will naturally help your brand name get out there. Links from local sponsorships, chambers, or industry associations (your community doesn’t have to only be geographic) tell Google and users that you are out there and involved and it helps underline your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness that Google is constantly trying to measure and is the core of their algorithm.

These are all basic things you can do as a small business owner that require no technical SEO expertise, but will get you going in the right direction. Once you feel the value of SEO and are ready to take it to the next level and get things running more efficiently, you can work with a trusted SEO company to take it to the next level. But don’t get scared by a lot of the people out there to scare you into SEO changes.  There is a lot of hot air in our industry and many that don’t know how much each thing matters. The biggest value a veteran SEO expert brings to your business is to prevent you from wasting valuable resources on things that don’t matter.