Search Engine Optimization

Say “What’s your SEO strategy?” to most new business owners and the invariable response is best likened to a deer caught in the path of an oncoming truck’s headlights. Many people think they can get away with a one-time SEO activity, when an on-going strategy is what is really required.

To set the stage for this topic, I wil describe my initial foray into the world of SEO.  Before you begin to even think about SEO, you need to be clear on several items. You must clearly define “who” your ideal customer is. This involves understanding their profile, what they do, their age, hobbies, likes and dislikes. Try to build personas for them. Have conversations with real people like them. Once you have a clear picture of your ideal client, figure out how much of that market is on Facebook. You can use the Facebook Ad tool to find out how many people are in a city, state, zip code, or country. This tool provides an instant updated view of the Facebook community and if you think that Facebook is only being used by kids…well then you have been sleeping for the last three years. Likewise if you think that Linked-in is where the real business gets done and not Facebook…think again.  I believe that people engage with Facebook and their “egos” engage with Linked In. Personally I would rather engage with as much of my clients or potential clients as possible and not just their “business self”.

Still asking why Facebook?  Because you can create a Facebook page for your business for free. No web-hosting and no web designer required. The process is free and only takes a few minutes to set (once you have your strategy defined that is). You can share the new page with your existing Facebook friends and you can leverage the site to find information to push to your target market using Twitter or Google Alerts. I will re-iterate…all of this is FREE. You can become the expert on what your target market is looking for and republish that information to them in just minutes each day.

What does this have to do with SEO you ask? Your free Facebook page is exposed to the Internet search engines, just like a website.  The words that you use to talk about the interesting things you find are picked up by Search Engines. This is why knowing what SEO words resonate with your target market is so important.

To figure out what keywords work for you, employ the Google Adword tool to find out what SEO terms are used by your target customer. Start using those words in your posts and reposts.  Remember to stay on brand, be authentic, and have some fun. Watch your weekly site stats to see how many people you are reaching.

It took six months of work to get my website to the point that it is now and it is still only a working prototype with almost no traffic.  I promoted my Facebook page one week ago and more people have interacted with it in the last week than have been to my website in the last thirty days.  My website traffic was tenfold higher the day I promoted the Facebook page thanks to traffic driven to the home page link on FaceBook.

Why is this the case? In my research on Encore Entrepreneurs using Adwords, I found that no one is looking for that information.   According to one survey, there are 12 million potential Encore Entrepreneurs out there; but if you search for the term in Adwords you get just 36 monthly searches for that term as opposed to 7.4 million searches for “small business”.  So, while people might intend to grow up to be an EE someday, they are not currently looking for that in their search engine.

More interestingly, I work with people to look at retirement in a revolutionary way. One would think that boomers would be all over that…NOT! Zero! Nada! However, “Retirement New” generated 135,000 monthly searches.  It is not about what we call something, it is what the market calls it that matters.  Back in the 90’s, in a product management role, I struggled with defining the market. Now it is at our fingertips, we simply have to use the tools we are given.  To play with Adwords just go to Google,  sign in with your ID and set up a free account, then get started.

So, before you hire someone to tell you what you need for SEO, do some research. Remember, the best thing about all of this is that the Google and Facebook tools are free.  It costs you nothing and there is no commitment. You can always hire someone later and armed with this knowledge, you’ll make better decision on who to hire and what to expect. This brief blog post is certainly not meant to be a complete description of what you need to do but it is designed to point you in the right direction. If you want more information, consider attending our upcoming seminar for much more details, tips, tricks and planning tools. If you take just one thing away today, let it be this: SEO is a process that must become part of your overall marketing toolkit. It is not a one-off project that can be completed and then forgotten. As a business owner it is critical for you to understand and be involved in the ongoing process.

We will be doing a seminar series on the three pillars of marketing for today’s star-ups including the topics of Internet Marketing, Social Media and Referral Networking monthly. To get on our newsletter list and stay informed about upcoming events, send an email request.  Next week we will talk about referral marketing for your start-up business.  If all this is old hat to you and you are still stuck drop me an email, I am networked to a number of SEO experts and Internet Marketing Mavens that will be happy to help you out.

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