MarketSTL, a St. Louis SEO Conference, Opens April 1
This month “google,” the verb, (not Google, the company) was chosen as Word of the Decade by the American Dialect Society. Not surprising when you consider that more than 90% of all buyers start the process by “googling” their object of desire–even if they use Yahoo or Bing to search for it.
One of the final frontiers in search engine optimization (SEO) is local search. That’s how retailers, service businesses, local consultants and sales teams can level the playing field with everyone else on the planet who sells what they do by mastering local search, “even if they don’t have a website,” says Will Hanke. Will is a local SEO practitioner and founder of MarketSTL, a local conference designed specifically for teaching local businesses the fundamentals of managing their own SEO.
Will started MarketSTL after teaching SEO repeatedly to overflow crowds of small business owners at the local public library. Not every business wants to hire out their SEO because they don’t understand it well enough to know what they’re paying for. But to take on SEO duties themselves, businesses must commit to the process and have the time to do it right, Will says. Here’s Will’s top 8 SEO tips:
1. Post new pages regularly. Will recommends posting at least 1-2 articles each week. “Companies often don’t connect the dots as to why fresh content is necessary,” he says. But search engines love quality and quantity. Warning: SEO is kind of like dieting. Once you start, you can’t stop. Your site will go back to where it was before all the activity.
2. List your site on the major search engines. Will especially recommends getting listed on Google Maps and Yahoo Local if your company relies on the metropolitan area for business. In fact, Google just released its smart phone option for “Near Me Now,” a new feature that shows local listings in every mobile search.
3. Blog. But set up your blog on your own domain, not Blogger.com or a hosted WordPress account. Build your own brand, not that of your host’s.
4. Track your results. Read your website metrics or set up a free Google Analytics account to find out where your traffic is coming from, which posts are most popular and where you’re losing visitors.
5. Twitter with a strategy. “I take the approach of, “‘How can I help?'” Will says. “Many companies blast their specials. This is a big no-no and a way to kill your community. I just picked up a new client on Twitter by answering a question.” (FYI from me: The American Dialect Society also named “tweet” as 2009’s Word of the Year, and Twitter is my #3 traffic source!)
6. Get a Facebook Fan Page. More than 300,000 people a day are starting fan pages, so it’s getting impossible not to have one for your business, Will says.
7. Email marketing. Will reminded me about this one. I suppose I no longer look at email marketing as an SEO tip…it’s just part of my overall marketing strategy. But I do get a definite spike in website traffic each week when my newsletter is published.
8. Be patient. “Allow at least 6 months to see the results from your SEO efforts,” Will says, “but it depends on what you’re trying to rank for. I’ve seen a lot of fly-by-night SEO companies promise front-page search results for obscure, no-traffic terms. That’s not hard. Most companies rank on page one naturally for their own company name, for example, but that doesn’t mean anyone’s searching for them.”
MarketSTL will be held on April 1, 2010. Conference presentations will focus on generating visitors to your website, increasing online revenue and mastering search engine optimization. There will also be sessions on what SEO is, how to teach the search engines about your business, and how to utilize Twitter and Facebook to keep those customers coming back. Oh, and, of course, how to keep your customers coming back to your website with email marketing, taught by moi. Tickets are on sale now, and Will expects a sell-out. Hope to see you there.