In the Beginning was the Web: Basic SEO Tactics for Brick & Mortar Businesses.
I was going to call this post ‘SEO for dummies’, but then I stopped myself because if you’re reading this, you’re not a dummy. You’re just the opposite. You’re clever. You have your own business – Probably a brick & Mortar company. You’re an entrepreneur. You’re looking for the basic SEO tactics for brick & mortar businesses and you’ve found it here!
You’re looking to leverage the internet to benefit your customers, your employees, and yourself. You want to snag just a tiny fraction of the $2.6 trillion that’s now traded over Tim Berners-Lee’s titanic creation every year (I know, many of you thought Al Gore invented the world wide web…sorry ).
And Google saw that it was good
If that’s your aim, you need SEO, and your first question is ‘What’s that?’ You’re not a geek or a Web specialist, you’re an entrepreneur, so the question is legit, and we’re here to fill the gaps in your knowledge. So settle back and enjoy our SEO primer.
Most things in life boil down to one simple pre or another, and SEO is no exception. SEO helps businesses raise their profile on Google and other search engines. The closer your site gets to the top of the list, the greater your prospects for internet traffic. It’s that simple. SEO mixes creative, technical, and analytical elements to raise your ranking on search engine pages, affectionately know as SERPs (search engine results pages).
Search engines help you find stuff on the Web. There’s Bing (Microsoft’s engine), and there’s Yahoo (one of the Web’s pioneer corporations, still in the process of a huge buyout by communications giant Verizon, as of April 2017: watch this space). There’s also AOL’s search engine. If you live in Russia or the former USSR, you may use Yandex, and if you’re in China (where Google’s blocked) you’re likely to use their search behemoth, Baidu (roughly translated as ‘100 degrees’, the name was culled from an 800-year-old Song dynasty poem).
But mostly there’s Google. The big G has 65 percent of the world market; outside China, that figure goes up to between 80 and 90 percent. In mobiles and handhelds (tablets, etc. as well as mobile phones), Google reigns supreme with well over 90 percent of searches made via its app. As much or our online purchasing goes mobile, it’s the Google rankings that rock the SEO universe. This means to employ sound SEO tactics for your brick & mortar business, you MUST focus on Google!
Rhythm and zoos: under Google’s bonnet
Google’s high priests like their company to be seen as hip, go-ahead, eco-friendly, and cuddly. At their massive donut-shaped HQ in California, trendy execs whirr from meeting to meeting on mountain bikes and skateboards, hot-desking new ideas via fiber-linked webinars. The address, 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, echoes that of another famous building on the eastern edge of the continent, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Essentially, Google trades in bits (binary digits). Bits are either a 1 or a 0 and they are the currency of computing: all information is rendered as long sequences of 1s and 0s (even pictures and videos). It’s about the simplest thing you could possibly trade in. The company’s core business helps internet users to find the right bits (its search engine) or sells advertising ‘space’ (also bits) to companies so that their websites appear at the top of relevant searches.
Google’s ‘algorithms’ are its money-maker, the complex coding that locates and ranks websites in their search engine and links advertisers to consumers. The current version, in Google’s tradition of cute fauna-related nomenclature, is Hummingbird, released in 2013 and updated and refined ever since. You’re probably wondering, what the hell does this have to do with my brick & mortar business…read on, my friend!
Giving us the bird: how the Google algorithm works and how SEO tactics for Brick & Mortar Businesses helps you
Google’s core algorithm, Hummingbird, analyzes more than 200 separate data points. It’s highly complex, and Google is well into a whole raft of sci-fi tech research domains such as machine learning and voice interaction (ideal, of course, for mobile users). Like a judge sifting evidence from different attorneys, Hummingbird assesses a range of key metrics when you type your search (‘where’s the nearest Starbucks?’) into its search field.
The most important are:
Content quality and meaning: Hummingbird uses ‘semantic search’ (or ‘meaning search’) to probe the meaning of your search and of the sites most relevant to your needs. It’ll correct your inaccuracies and obfuscations and also provide more accurate results for more complex questions (‘how do I get out of NYC traveling north without using the NJ Turnpike?’). More importantly, it makes an assessment of a site’s content quality and relevance using the same ‘semantic’ metrics and uses this to help match sites to your requirements. The idea is that pages matching your meaning (and with more detailed content relating to the meaning) rank higher in the results.
Since Hummingbird was launched, and since Google added its other algorithm updates (the similarly cute and cuddly Panda and Penguin), the watchword has been ‘quality user experience’. That refers to the quality of your site’s user experience, not that of Google. The better your site is, the higher its ranking. In other words, the old ‘black hat’ technique of simply repeating keywords over and over again no longer works. Take a look at my post explaining all this.
Links: Hummingbird measures how much your page is ‘linked to’ by a spread of other sites. Previous Google algorithms did too, but Hummingbird does it faster and more efficiently. The more ‘inbound’ links, the higher the ranking.
Structure: The ‘depth’ of a website’s structure also operates as a ranking factor. A web page with a single screen of unbroken copy will be marked down, while a website with a good, internally linked structure will be marked up. The structure has to be well-designed, though, rather than arbitrary: Hummingbird assesses the quality of internal structuring as well as the quantity. If your website’s content is broken up into well thought-out sections clearly signaled using tabs and drop-downs, Hummingbird will like it.
Speed: The quicker your page loads, the higher its rankings.
Now listen. All this may seem overwhelming today. But we’re here to show you how you can go online and enhance service for your current customers AND bring in more customers to your brick & mortar business. Check out our featured articles to see what we have to offer.
Back to the top: what’s SEO again?
Now we’ve stroked the penguin and patted the panda, let’s return to our top question: what is SEO?
Search engine optimization uses its knowledge of how these engines (especially Google’s) work to help your company raise its search rankings. SEO consultants will advise companies on how to improve their site’s content, structure, and links to maximize their Hummingbird ‘score’. They should also provide you with analysis of your current position and demonstrate the value of their work: the proof is in the pudding, after all.
To help you get an idea of where you’re at, or rather, where your website’s at, I’ve put together a quick ‘how-to’/self-help guide to assessing your own SEO rating. This will give you two advantages: you’ll get a ‘jumping-off point’, a basic assessment that you can use to tot up your site’s ‘SEOness’, and you’ll also get a quick-fire grounding in SEO basics that will help you weed out cowboy SEO operators and assess consultant’s advice for value. That’s a lot more power to your elbow.
Contact me here so we can chat about the needs you have for your need to implement SEO tactics for brick & mortar businesses so you can be successful online.
We’ll be writing a whole lot more about SEO, Internet marketing, and other related information to help grow your business’ online presence. Enter your email address and first name below so you never miss an article. We’ll let you know every time we post something new.