How can Small and Startup Brands Compete in Google?

Since Pubcon 2012, I have noticed more changes to Google’s search results algo. Not just Google’s focus on big brands but, on one of my sites in particular, their force rewrite of a site’s title tag. With confirmation of another Panda update these changes could be even more pronounced.

Small sites, 1000 pages or less, are taking a beating yet many niche markets still remain. Recently, I finished a window cleaning website for a fellow UW alum and his rankings continue to be strong for his geographical area. I predict that Google’s pending update will not affect these smaller sites unless there was highly questionable activities going on or they’re in a highly competitive space where big brands can force their way in. In the real estate industry, there is so much chatter about a company, brokers, and property managers having blogs.

Back in 2005, I remember reading forums that blogging was all the rage and if you weren’t blogging then you should be blogging. After 8 years nothing has changed. Blogging is touted as a business’s primary source of fresh organic traffic and social media engagement. Blogging is still a content rich source of information where a search engine can easily crawl, index, rank, and display that site’s content according to the site’s authority. While video and social media follow a strong second, the attrition rate is so high that social media has little stickiness to a search engine – unless social media efforts trend.

So where can a small business get the most bang for their buck? Here are 5 ways a small business can stay competitive and relevant in Google’s changing landscape.

1. Bring the company’s website in the 21st Century Using an outdated content management system is the easy way to decrease a website’s rankings. Upgrade to easy publishing platforms, like WordPress or Drupal, so a search engine can easily navigate on page content, new content, and the site’s meta tags, descriptions, and keywords. Plus, the CMS systems are super easy to use when compared to Frontpage. WordPress allows a website to have a built in blog that with just a few clicks a site owner can be publishing fresh content.

2. Implement Social Sharing Buttons Since social is so popular and its reach is undeniable, it is important to allow users to share and promote a site’s content. If a person is interested in sharing a business review of a Seattle based dispensary to their sphere why not make it easy for them to do so. This allows a search engine to see the social signals of a website to improve consumer search results. If a company looks and acts relevant then more than likely the company and their site are relevant.

3. Create a Google Plus, Pages, and Places Accounts Google has made it clear that G+, Pages, and Places accounts are Google’s way of connecting authors with their work and business. Google uses these accounts to discern a business’s business, address and coverage area, hours of operation, customer reviews, and contact information as a way to render quality results to the searcher.

4. Create Social Media Accounts & ParticipateThe most common theme “I hear is I don’t do Facebook or Twitter” and my response is always the same, “why not?”. Mainly when people don’t they feel everyone just shares info on their cat, kids, and what they are eating. That is about half the truth. While those items are shared quiet often there is also a whole business sector out there to connect and engage with. If you do nothing with the accounts at least they will be available when the time is right.

There are many more but that is enough to get started.

5. Get Started Now, Not Later

Your competition has been blogging and participating in social media for years and all signs point to these advertising mediums sticking around. It is easy to back burner and discount these channels yet when others are currently taking business from you with these methods then it is time to rethink why you’re so reluctant to try.

Small business tend to have more time than money when it comes to advertising and if you’re currently struggling to make ends meet then try these efforts. Then, before you know it, your advertising efforts will be paying dividends.

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