While it’s easy to get overwhelmed about going up against big businesses in marketing realms like search engine optimization, blogging, viral marketing, community building and analytics, a good dose of common sense can really level the playing field. This panel aims to set the stage for the rest of the show by helping you change your perspective on competing with the big boys.

Matt McGee, SEO Manager at Marchex is up first. He is going to present his SEO Success Pyramid which is a pictorial overview of the SEO process. In introducing himself, Matt points out that he has been around small business all his life – his dad is a small business owner, his wife owns a small business, etc. He also points out that the pyramid is not a one by one process but rather a level by level.

SEO Success Pyramid

Foundational elements have nothing to do with one’s web site but rather the individual or company itself. It all starts with commitment. The team needs to be committed as one person can sabotage a marketing plan. Planning is another key element to the process. What are your goals? What is needed to reach them?
How will you determine success? Third element is product and/or service. A great search marketing campaign will not hide the fact that you have a lousy product or service. Therefore your SEM campaign will be more successful if your product and/or service is great. Next, education is crucial – having access to current, intelligent information. Finally on the lower level of the pyramid is patience. Unless Oprah is pimping your product, you will have to have a lot of patience.

The second level of the pyramid does deal with the web site itself. Design and usability is first. Providing a great user experience should be an essential part of your marketing plan. Keyword research is the foundation of your SEM campaign. You need to understand what keywords and phrases your potential customers are searching for. The next step of the process is analytics. This allows you to learn successes and failures. Finally on this second level of the pyramid is tools. Access to good tools can give you an edge over competition.

The third level is the “nuts and bolts” of an SEM campaign. It all begins with crawlability. If a search engine cannot access your interior pages, they cannot rank them. Content is next. Users want it – search engines need it – search marketing success demands it. Finally on the third level is links. Links work like votes not only telling search engines what your site is about but showing them how popular or authorities your site is.

Fourth level deals with external web sites. Social/local findability is first. It related to engaging your customers via social media (e.g., blogs, social news, local sites). Next is reputation management – what others say about you matters. Being proactive on this is better than waiting for a bad reputation issue to attack you.

The very top spot of the pyramid is trust. Trust from users and search engines is imperative for long term success.

Wendy Piersall, Founder of Sparkplugging.com is up next. One of the ways she has brought attention to
her site is by reaching out via speaking engagements. Another thing that really helped her is getting the attention of prominent bloggers who will give you exposure. It is about building relationships via email, commenting on blogs, Twitter, etc. The main idea is to “get yourself out there” some way, some how.

She points out that the little things can make a big difference. Things like putting a “subscribe to comments” link or placing links in a certain area of the page can have a huge impact on your online success.

Matt Bailey, Founder of Site Logic Marketing is up next. He starts out by saying that the larger conferences are like a dump truck dumping all sorts of information on you, giving you information overload. He then compares that to this conference being a more sequenced format that can actually help you with your sites.

Matt points out that a lot of the information out there is dated and quite antiquated. So, one should find out when articles were written and take that into consideration. Reason for this is that SEM in 1999 was totally different than it is today. Don’t drive yourself crazy with very fine SEO tuning techniques. Matt compares what a NASCAR pit crew deals with compared to him working on his 1964 Bug. The very smallest element in NASCAR can make a difference whereas with an antique bug, it is a much simpler process. As a small business, making the basic, essential adjustments is going to provide big pay-offs.

Next Matt talks about analytics which he is absolutely passionate about. Analytics have brought about 900% to 1,200 ROI for sites.

Finally, Matt talks about usability. It can be as easy as getting your mother to sit down and use your web site. If someone who is a web novice cannot use your site, then it is not very usability friendly. If someone cannot accomplish something on your web site, it is your problem – not theirs.


Note: These are raw notes taken while live-blogging sessions at the Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference in Houston, Texas. Please excuse any spelling or grammar errors.

David Wallace

David Wallace

David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been involved in developing successful search engine and social media marketing campaigns for large and small businesses.

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