The 3 R‘s of Online Success for SMBs

“Back to school” basics for marketing your business online

For as long as most of us can remember, “Back to School season” has been a time to start thinking about the “3 R’s”: reading, writing and arithmetic. But if you’re a local business looking to boost your online visibility, there’s a different set of R’s you should be focused on.

Lesson #1: Relevance

Relevance is, in short, how you get found online by anyone who’s starting from a search engine. And if no one can find you, the rest of these lessons won’t matter.

To get found in the organic search results, the content of your website needs to use the words and phrases that people are actually searching for. Then you need to start earning backlinks (or publishing your own content that links back to your site) that use those words and phrases, too.

To get found in the paid results — including the text ads for your SEM campaign and display ads for your Display campaign — you need to use the right words AND target the right audience.

Lesson #2: Real Value

Relevance is great for getting you found…but what you really need is to get chosen. So ask yourself: when someone visits your site, do they find Real Value in your content, or just superficial keywords that match their search?

Google’s Quality Guidelines tell website owners to “Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.” Without content that helps people by providing Real Value — unique, useful, accurate and authoritative content — your potential customers will keep looking elsewhere, and you may have a harder time ranking in the search results.

When you’re reading the content on your site, always ask yourself “If I searched for ____ and found this, would it answer all my questions? Would it keep me engaged? Would it be something I would share?”

Lesson #3: The Right Information

This lesson is so simple and fundamental that it’s easy to forget: you need to make sure ALL of your business information is correct, everywhere there’s a reference to your business online. There are probably online listings for your business — also known as digital business listings — on search engines and online directories across the Web. Some were created by you…some were autogenerated…and many may have outdated information.

From your business name, address and phone number (your “NAP” info is an absolute must) to your current logo and business hours, it’s important that all of your digital business listings are correct.

Getting found is great…getting calls is even better…but calls and visits to the wrong number won’t help you at all.

Your homework

Try to apply the 3 R’s to everything you do online: your website, your blog, your social media posts, etc. Not only will it help search engines and your customers find you, but it will give them a reason to stay and share too!