Optimizing for Small Business
Any business wanting to be taken seriously needs an online presence, whether it’s a multi-chain bookstore, an art supply store, or a one-man rodent control business. A website, however, only improves business if people can find it, meaning it has to show up in the first two pages of search results. Any website that doesn’t appear on the first two pages of a Google search is effectively invisible.
What is It?
Google uses PageRanks as a simple means of determining your website’s importance on the web. A website is assigned a number from 0 to 10, with 10 being the most popular websites. Basically, the more sites link to a page on your website, the higher the page’s ranking. PageRank isn’t the only method Google uses when it determines a site’s relevance, but it is an important factor.
How Important is It?
How important is PageRank for a business website? That really depends on the size and scope of your business. An arts supply business with multiple locations and an online store needs a large PageRank; after all, the company competes with Amazon and other major industry players. But what about a small one-location business? Does it really need a high PageRank?
Probably not. A local arts supply store isn’t trying to compete with the online giants, even if the business’ website includes an online store. The website’s purpose is to draw the attention — and the custom — of local consumers. To do that you don’t need to dominate the search engine rankings nationwide. This is good news for small business owners, who can’t afford to compete with the big players anyway.
What to do if You’re Not Competing Nationally
People searching for local businesses tend to search by geographically-specific keywords. If I’m looking for an arts supply store in Little Speck, Ohio, I don’t type “art supplies” into Google. I type in “arts supplies Little Speck.” Broader search terms yield national, if not international results. All I want to know is where I can buy oil paints in my hometown. Make sure your website includes your physical address as well as keywords that match your services.
Instead of worrying about low PageRank, local businesses should focus on how often website visits convert into business. Register with local online directories and Yellow Pages. Many of them are free or charge a very small listing fee. Directory listings that link to your business won’t hurt your PageRank. A potential customer may not even bother clicking through the directory to your site if he or she only wants your physical address. Either way, someone’s walking through your door with a mind to shop.
Take advantage of Google’s many extras as well. Google Maps is an excellent example. Embed Google maps in your website and you’ve got an easy way of providing visitors with directions to your store (and further improving your ranking with Google).