Search Engine Strategies for Small and Medium Sized Businesses

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For the small to medium-size organization trying to maximize their B2B lead generation activities online, understanding what you can do to achieve the highest possible rank on Google is critical. Search engines are the first place people go to find products and solutions. To that end, we’ve highlighted several areas to focus on to help you do just that.

Focus on ContentGoogle doesn’t share how they measure quality, but the one thing everyone agrees upon is that content remains the highest factor in your SEO success. Even as it makes changes to its algorithm, Google communicates to the world that it is doing so to better promote sites that are offering valuable content over those that do not.

In qualifying that term quality, Google emphasizes content needs to be unique, well written and targeted at a specific topic. Spelling and grammatical errors play a major role in this, as does the focus on a specific topic. That’s not to say you should stuff your pages with specific keywords or phrases. The goal is to cover the topic thoroughly, but not stray too far from the subject matter being discussed. If you need to change topics, link to another page and build natural connections between the content.

More is Less
For years, the standard for content length was 250 words. With the increased emphasis on content, that number has increased to 600 or more. The logic behind this increase is that if content is critical, being able to explain a topic in-depth within 250 words is nearly impossible. What’s important to remember is that every word you use needs to provide value and simply restating what you have already said won’t work.

Avoid Duplicate Content
Say it once and focus on saying it right. With internal links, you shouldn’t need to repeat the same content on multiple pages and you certainly shouldn’t “borrow” content from other sites. Multiple pages with exact or even similar content are strictly taboo. This also applies to RSS feeds and shared content from partners or vendors. If you do use shared content, protect your unique content by applying no-follow tags and sitemaps to let Google and other search engines know to avoid those pages within your site.

Readability
One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. You may not realize it, but there is a mathematical formula for measuring readability­ of that phrase and everything else. The Flesch Readability Scale was developed in 1975 and while not directly utilized by SEO it gives you a baseline for understanding how readability can be measured by the Google computers. I certainly wouldn’t suggest learning it or even spending the time to figure out how to measure it yourself. Simply use your best judgment when writing and editing content to increase the understanding of your content by intelligent adults.

Bounce Rate
Unlike readability, you should be measuring your bounce rate. Google certainly does and they make it easy for you to do the same. One of the most important factors in SEO is your ability to measure your marketing results, including your bounce rate, a measure of how long on average a person stays on the page before hitting the back key. A short time indicates that the content wasn’t relevant to them. If you’ve created content that engages and educates your visitors, then you’ll reduce your bounce rate and increase your search engine ranking.

Stay Away from Advertising
Unless it’s a significant source of income, avoid placing ads on your website. The ad to copy ratio is a significant weight in determining page relevance. Sites that have lots of ads are typically focused on driving traffic and not as worried about the type of content that does.

Inbound Links and Social Sites
Inbound traffic is still the most important criteria for determining your search engine ranking. With each Google update, where those links are coming from are even more important. Link farms and exchange programs are red flags, with higher priority being given to social sites and known sources of quality content. A link from the New York Times is much more valuable than one from your Aunt Beatrice, but her link is still more valuable than one of 1000 listed on a link farm.

Additionally, building a social marketing strategy that leverages social sites where people are actively promoting your content or recommending it to others are increasingly valuable. Google’s new +1 is the perfect example of how they are using visitors to improve their page rankings. In fact, they have a history of using average people to identify and improve their content. In the 90’s they made a simple game of identifying the content of pictures and used that information to better catalog their vast database of images. The same is being done today by allowing real people to rank site content in a way that will help others understand where real value exists.

Ken Pikulik
Ken Pikulik is the Director of Process and Strategy at ResponsePoint, a marketing agency focusing on B2B lead generation solutions. Working with ResponsePoint, Ken leverages his in-depth knowledge of business strategy and marketing communications to identifying client needs and match them to the correct solution across all facets of traditional promotions and emerging digital media.

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