Is “First on Google” Important for Small Businesses?

I had a client ask me one time, “So, you’re gonna make me first on Google, right?”

This was in the initial stages of planning a site renovation and he naturally wanted, as a businessman, to get the most bang for his buck. For him, ranking highly in Google’s search results is synonymous with generating more business. But is it? Are there situations where ranking highly for a certain keyword doesn’t guarantee success? Absolutely. For a high ranking to help a business, there must be complete plan laid out for any phrase that leads the visitor to take some beneficial action on a business’ site when coming from a search result. Just what does a business have to do to take advantage of a high ranking? First, determine what action you want a visitor to take once they hit your site. You can’t just go for trying to rank highly for a keyword that sounds good. You want keyword phrases that someone would be looking for if they wanted to complete a task like the one you want your visitors to complete.

Let’s say you’re a plumber. You live in Greenville, SC. You want people to contact you so you can do their plumbing. Do you want to rank for “plumbing”? No you don’t. You want to rank for “plumber greenville sc” or “hire plumber greenville sc”. Just “plumbing” indicates someone who wants the definition of the word or a tutorial library on plumbing. Now, taking that a step further, you might do a nifty plumbing video where you do a very specific plumbing task and then offer to perform that tasks for people if they contact you. The more specific you can get, the better. For Tenon SEM, I want to rank for greenville sc seo. That’s already pretty specific and I know someone looking for that knows what they’re looking for.

Now, this specificity has a bad side. For small local areas, there may be almost nobody searching in your area for that sweet phrase you came up with. So, you could be ranking #1 for that phrase but nobody may be looking for it. Same thing with your specific business name. If nobody knows your business name, nobody will look for it, right?

This means that you have to integrate your website SEO efforts with standard advertising and community outreach. Hand out flyers, do some paid search like AdWords or Facebook advertising and do community outreach like Chamber of Commerce lectures and HOA seminars. I certainly don’t mean to imply that SEO efforts in small local markets is a wasted effort. It’s just important to realize that it’s just one part of your marketing effort.