Website Ranking Factors For Small Business (Part 2 of 3)

In my prior article in this series, I discussed website On-Page Ranking Factors for small business websites.  This article will cover factors that are considered Off-Page Ranking Factors and how they apply to a small business trying to achieve first page rankings for desired keywords,

Off Page Search Engine Ranking Factors for Small Business Websites

This first article will cover what is known as Off Page factors, meaning what can be done on the website itself. We will cover the following:

  • Link Qualityworld wide web and computer mouse
  • Embedded Link Text
  • Number of Links
  • Domain Age
  • Social Media Shares
  • Social Media Reputation
  • Locality

Inbound Link Quality

As a small business owner, you have no doubt been presented with so called “opportunities” to link your website with other web properties across the  web.  These solicitations often come in the form of emails or phone calls promising hundreds of inbound links to increase your optimization, often for a nominal fee per month.  The other form of linking small businesses are often presented with are paid links from local directories such as: dexknows.com, yelp.com, yellowpages.com and others.

When considering buying links as a small business, it is very important to weigh the quality of the links, and what if anything they will do for your website.  Solicitations that promise hundreds or even thousands of inbound links for a very low monthly price I recommend steering away from.  These links are often generated from spam activity to other websites, or they may even be links traded or bought through other webmasters.  Paid links can get you penalized by the search engines.  No matter what kind of testimonials, reviews or whatever you see from these folks – however tempting it may be – don’t do it.  SEOMOZ did an experiment with paid link building, you can watch the video here on why paid links are bad.

The second form of link building for small businesses above is links from local, trusted directories that Google and other search engines considercartman authority “Authoritative”.  I do recommend this, as it will help the search engines understand what your small business does – and when you tell Google what you do, and an authoritative source says the same thing – that’s a good thing.  I do however caution small business owners to buy listings on local directories for the right reasons.  In my opinion the only thing you are looking to achieve with these local directories is getting the authoritative juice from them.  This can be achieved many times with just a basic listing and profile, which often can be bought for under $40 per month.  Many of these local directory companies (sometimes referred to as IYP’s or Internet Yellow Pages) offer so called variations of pay per click and SEO services, I recommend steering away these services as almost 100% of the time they are optimizing “doorway pages” to your site.  They call these doorway pages many different things such as: store fronts, business profiles, 1 page websites and more, but the bottom line is that they drive the traffic to their site and not yours.

Embedded Link Text

There is a lot of speculation these days from different SEO experts on the value of embedded link text on your website…but since this article is related to SEO OFF your website, I won’t go into that.  Embedded link text is the practice of try to achieve what is known as “link juice” from another web property.

Whether the website you are trying to gain juice from is a blog, forum, or maybe just a related type of business, embedded link text is nothing more than placing a link on another site with keywords you hope to be found for.  For example in this article about Link Juice you can see that the person who wrote it linked the following terms: Link Juice, High Quality Backlinks and SEO Link Building Service.  The hope here was that they would rank for these terms – which worked because I searched Link Juice and found them in 6th position.

Number of Links

PageRank is an algorithm that Google uses to measure the popularity of a website, page or post in relation to competing websites, pages or posts.  I won’t even attempt to explain it further as the algorithm was developed by the famous mathematician John Nash – winner of The Nobel Math Award – he had a movie made about his life called “A Beautiful Mind” which starred Russel Crowe and Ed Harris.

Here recently Google has changed the way it applies the PageRank Algorithm to websites, but for purposes of local small businesses essentially it boils down to how many quality websites link to your domain.   These days inbound links can be achieved through social media also…maybe the start of Link Building 2.0?

Domain Age

How long have you owned your domain?  How long has it been registered?  How long till it expires?  These are things that the search engines check.  A domain that’s been active for 10 years will be considered as a more trusted source than a domain that’s been active for 6 months.  Unfortunately websites come and go for many reasons, if you’re the new kid on the block, registering your domain for longer periods shows the search engines that you are serious about your commitment to your website for years to come.

Social Media Shares and Social Media Reputationsocial media sites

I’ve been in the internet marketing arena for almost 10 years now.  Eight years ago when I would meet with small business owners, often the question was “do I really need a website?” and for obvious reasons I always said yes…fast-forward  to the last few years the question is now “do I really need to do social media?” and again my answer is the same.  Google and the other major search engines look and grade on how people socially engage your business, website and content.  Whether someone is sharing your business on Facebook, or someone is Digg’in your website, it’s all tracked.  How people are engaging your business right here, right now matters – not matter if you use social media or not.  With the roll out of Google+ and the popularity of other social media sites, it’s something that can’t be ignored by a small business.

Social Media Reputation is a measurement of who shares your information on social networks.  This is probobly one of the biggest reasons to get involved in article writing and blogging.  Small business owners in local areas are in a unique position to set themselves apart as locally trusted sources on social media outlets by publishing high quality content that demonstrates their expertise in a certain field.  98% of small businesses will never take it to this level, so that leaves 2% to propel themselves ahead of their competition – garnering valuable real estate on SERP’s and social media sites.

Locality

Have you let the search engines know where you pull your customers from?  The search engines realize that local search is huge, Google estimates that 20% off all their queries have local intent.  Not telling the search engines your service area will leave your business in the dark to consumers looking for you outside of your immediate area.  Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Maps, your website content, and those authoritative sources we spoke about before are great areas to start letting the search engines know where you serve.

Next article in this series will be: Website Ranking Factors for Small Business – Things that will hurt your website

How to set-up a Facebook Deal for your small business.

Facebook Deals

Facebook Deals is something that has been in testing for as far as I know the last few months, and only a few businesses were allowed to post deals via Facebook, until now.  I am setting up a Facebook Deal for one of my customers, so thought I would take this opportunity to put together a brief step-by-step on how to create a deal for your Facebook Small Business Page.

First of all, log in to your account and make sure you are logged in as the business.  Go to your “wall” and look for the “edit info” button as pictured below.

edit info picture

click the "edit info" link

Once you click that link, the left column of your Facebook page will populate with different options of areas to edit.  Go to the last option labeled “Deals” and click.

Facebook Deals linkFrom there a screen will populate to the right of this link, with a hyperlink that says “Create a Check-In Deal For This Page”, click it.  The next screen that populates will notify you that you must switch to using Facebook as yourself, not as the business, click the button that says “Continue as “Your Name””.

Choosing The Type of Deal

There are currently four types of Facebook Deals for you as a business owner to choose from.

  1. Individual Deal – Reward individual customers when they check in at your business.  Best for simple discounts or gifts with purchase.
  2. Friend Deal – Reward groups of customers when they check in together. Help spread the word about your business more rapidly.
  3. Loyalty Deal – Reward customers for visiting your business a certain number of times, similar to a traditional punch card.
  4. Charity Deal – Pledge to donate to a charity of your choice when customers check in at your business. A win-win for everyone!

Now obviously you will want to pick the type of deal that will engage your customers and Facebook likes.  An Auto Repair Shop probobly wouldn’t want to choose the “Loyalty Deal” as most people get their vehicle worked on once or twice per year, so having someone check-in over that long of a span for some type of “Loyalty Deal” might be a stretch, but for a Coffee Stand, Bowling Alley, or Deli, a loyalty deal would be great.

Facebook Deal OptionsAfter choosing your offer type, scroll down to define your offer.  Clearly think your offer out.  This is not a time to think about how much money you can make of a Facebook Deal, remember you will have plenty of opportunity to upsell, and sell over and over again if the people come in.  If your offer isn’t good enough, well they just won’t come at all.

As you can see below, one of my clients decided to offer a Full Service Oil Change for $14.95.  At that price he looses money in labor and covers his costs in materials…but he’s thinking of the bigger picture.

Decide if you want a “max redemption” and “repeat claims” for the offer, make sure your read Zuck’s Terms, as it is his playground, then hit submit.

Define your Facebook OfferOnce you submit, you will come to a screen that will let you know that your offer is in review.  Typically from my experience, it take approx. two days to receive notification if the offer was accepted.

Promote your Facebook Deal

Remember this is something you want to go viral…the more people that see it, the better the offer, the more people are exposed to your business.  When someone checks into your business to redeem this offer, all their friends on Facebook see it, imagine the possibilities.  Promote the deal on your website, as your Facebook likes to share it with their friends and family, promote it in your store, anywhere you can.  Then sit back, watch your Facebook likes climb and start thinking of how your going to engage your new found followers.