The last week or so, I’ve had several conversations with our clients about their 2012 marketing plans, goals, and challenges. And a few things have stood out.

Overwhelmingly, the #1 goal they have, when it comes to their online marketing, is to get more traffic from Google. And specifically, they’re interested in getting FREE traffic from Google (non-advertising clicks) by using search engine optimization (aka “SEO”).

That’s why, in today’s post, I thought it’d be helpful to provide a quick and broad overview of what you need to know about SEO. And there are 2 types of SEO that every small business owners should be taking advantage of…

1. Local Search Engine Optimization

The first type is local SEO, which means getting listed in Google Places. We recommend small business owners start with local SEO, because it’s the easiest and fastest to setup and start seeing results.

Recently, Google has made local business results much more prominent by displaying local business results at the top for millions of searches. For many searches, the local results are even more prominent than the regular “Top 10” results.

If you’ve been stuck on the sidelines and haven’t been investing in SEO because you thought it was too complex or too expensive, you no longer have that excuse. It’s much faster and easier to break onto the 1st page of Google with local SEO.

Here are the 3 main ingredients for a successful local SEO campaign are:

i. Demand

What keywords are your potential customers searching to find your type of business?

You don’t need to guess. Google has a free keyword research tool, available here:

ii. Relevance

You need to edit and optimize your Google Places page to make it relevant to these keywords, so Google knows to display your business listing when people are searching for your type of services.

C. Authority

You need to prove to Google that you’re a credible, trusted business. And the 2 main authority ingredients are citations and reviews.

Related articles:

We created a step-by-step training program (The Local SEO Formula) that shows you exactly how to do all of this, so you rank at the top of Google’s local results.  Learn more about it here:


2. Traditional Search Engine Optimization (‘Top 10’ SEO)

The other type of SEO is the type you’re probably already familiar with. We call it traditional SEO (or Top 10 SEO) because these are the techniques to get you listed in the regular (non-local) Top 10 results.

Traditional SEO is a little bit more complex than local SEO, but has the same 3 main ingredients:

i. Demand

You need to do keyword research to find what words your potential customers are using to search for your services. Same as with local SEO, use Google’s keyword tool as the starting point.

ii. Relevance

You need to make your website relevant to your keywords. And specifically, you want to focus on 1 keyword per page. So, if you offer a bunch of different services, then you should have a page for each of those services.

iii. Authority

The main factor Google looks at when judging the trustworthiness of your site for the Top 10 results is your incoming links (or hyperlinks). Links are like positive votes in favor of your business.

If you include these 3 ingredients in your traditional SEO campaign (keyword research, content, and links) you will begin to rise in Google’s Top 10 results and start getting more visitors to your website.

A Note About Building Links…

Most of the small business owners I’ve been speaking to have only been focused on getting reciprocal links by setting up link exchanges with other websites.

Reciprocal links can be OK, but in some instances they can actually be counterproductive. Overall, link exchanges really aren’t the best way to build links, so I don’t recommend spending too much energy there.

You want to get a lot of different types of links to your website. And instead of focusing on link exchanges, you should focus more of your time on building one-way links to your website (where other website link to you, without you linking back to them). One-way links are much more helpful for building up your website’s authority.

Why would another website link to you? Maybe it’s because you are providing a helpful resource on your website. Or perhaps you write an online column for a local newspaper’s website, and they let you place a byline link back to your website. There are many ways to build links, and that’s outside of the scope of this post.

But based on our recent conversations with small business owners, it’s clear there’s a lot of interest in traditional “Top 10” SEO. So, we’re planning to create training material in the coming months that will explain exactly how to do all of this.

What Do You Want to Know About SEO?

If you have any questions about SEO, comment below.