Small Business SEO Challenges

Small Business SEO Challenges
The challenges for small business owners are massive. Small business SEO and internet marketing add more challenges. Indeed, in some ways it presents a threat.

Imagine you own a store. Then, imagine that one out of every ten potential customers are blind to your store when they walk by. Then can’t see it at all. It doesn’t exist for them. Now imagine that was five years ago. Since then the blindness has increased to three of every ten and within another year it could be five or more.

This is exactly what is happening for business owners who don’t have a web presence or don’t have a web presence in the search engines. Local SEO is needed to make your business visible to search engines and visitors who buy what you sell.

The Three Challenges of Small Business SEO

Let’s categorize the challenges for small business owners when thinking about internet marketing. Here’s a story to illustrate.

Sergeant Johnson must do some crazy things to qualify for special forces. He must dive off a cliff, land in the water without hurting himself and then swim five miles across the channel to the other shore.

Sergeant Johnson has some thinking and deciding to do. First, is this special forces thing really worth it? Second, do I have the skills to jump off a cliff without hurting myself. Finally, do I have the stamina to swim five miles across open water?

The small business owner looking at internet marketing for the first time is a lot like Sergeant Johnson. Is it really worth it? Do I have the skills or can I find them without a huge hassle and expense? Will my efforts get me to the search engine rankings and how long will it take?

The Challenges of small business for local search engine optimization can be looked at in three steps:

  1. Deciding if internet marketing is worth it for my business
  2. Getting started
  3. Staying with it until it pays off

Deciding if Small Business SEO is Worth It

Let’s go back to the beginning of this article. How many potential customers are walking by your door because they never see you? It’s pretty simple but powerful question. If some percentage of customers in a business come from online searchers and your business is not where they search, they will never see you.

So, this decision comes down to two basic questions:

What percentage of potential customers start their search online? The National Association of Realtors reports:

Information sources used in home search:

  • Internet: 74%
  • Real estate agent: 69%
  • Yard sign: 22%
  • Open house: 12%
  • Newspaper ad: 9%
  • Home book or magazine: 6%

If you’re a real estate agent and you don’t have a solid internet presence, you will be missing out on a lot of business. What are the numbers in your business segment? Check with your industry association, talk to other people in the same business, but find out.

The second question is do you have the resources necessary to compete in the search engines and using other forms of marketing on the internet?

Budgets are critical for most small business owners and if you don’t have the money, you need to determine if you have the time to learn and do the work necessary for building a web site and ranking in the search engines. If you don’t have the time or the money you’re not going to make a dent in a competitive market.

But, let’s assume you have the resources necessary and you are sure of the need for small business SEO and a search engine presence. Now what do you do?

Getting Started With Small Business and Local SEO

What do you need to get started with SEO? If you are new to SEO, watch our Small Business SEO Explained Video that we created just for small business owners.

Whether you do the work or someone else do the work, to get started you need to get the technical aspect of site design and SEO right:

  • Site Structure
  • Site Design
  • Hosting
  • Content Management and Content Management Platform
  • Market Research
  • Competitive Research
  • Keyword Research
  • On Page SEO
  • Link Plans

Practical SEO – The Real Work

Once the technical aspects of SEO are complete, the work begins and the work is all about content. Content offers three challenges:

  • Creating Content
  • Creating Lots and Lots of Content
  • Staying With Content Creation

The quality of your content must be better than the competition. It’s that simple. Do whatever it takes to make your content the best in your industry. Then the content must be written for both customers (first) and SEO (second). Don’t be fooled into believing that only SEO content matters. It’s always customers first.

I believe in the very near future that content creation quality and volume will be barriers to entry into many business segments. If you’re not able to create good content and lots of it – you can’t play.

Blog rate abandonment is estimated to be 95%. If you spend a lot of time searching on the internet you see that many businesses fall into that category or they’re teetering on the edge. The rate of content creation and maintaining that rate are critical. If you are not in it for the long term, you are not in. You must stay with content creation forever. The rate of new content is based on your business segment and competition, but plan to create new content for as long as you are in business.

Not What You Wanted to Hear?

Sorry, I don’t pull punches. I don’t tell you BS to sell you. Internet Marketing and small business SEO are competitive and becoming more competitive by the moment. If there’s a market, then there is or will be competition for search engine rankings. It takes work, it takes resources, it takes skill and knowledge. If anyone is telling you it’s easy, they’re wrong. Easy rankings generally mean that there’s no competition or no market.

If you have questions call me (Mike Byrne) at 386-295-2049. You can also reach me by email. I am a Daytona Beach SEO Specialist, but I service the US and Canada and beyond.

Understanding Small Business SEO Video

If you are a small business owner or small business manager, then this video is for you. It explains small business SEO and what’s needed to get your site and its pages to rank in the search engines in the long term.

Take 10 minutes now to watch the small business SEO video.

Small Business SEO Video



The video covers:

You’re not going to learn SEO from a 10 minute video, but you will know a lot more than you do now, especially if you’re just getting into search engine optimization.

We know that many small business owners are gaining competitive advantages from using local SEO and small business SEO. It’s important to understand that unlike print advertising, the results are not immediate. It takes time to rank and keep the rankings in competitive markets. It’s a bit of a leap of faith, but the results can be impressive.

Even better, you are making an investment. Unlike the continuing expense of print and broadcast media, the money you spend on SEO builds an asset. You don’t need to keep feeding the machine dollars once you’ve reach your ranking goals. There’s ongoing maintenance costs, but those are a fraction of the initial costs. Do you know of any other advertising media that cost you less as it becomes more effective?

There’s a lot of information in the video. If you have questions about small business SEO or local SEO, give Mike at call at 386-295-2049. You can also go to our contact page.

Small Business SEO – How to Fail Fast

Want to know the sure-fire way to fail at Small Business SEO? It’s really simple and many small businesses do it without trying. Here we go – make your site and its pages boring and irrelevant.

SEO Gets You Traffic Not Results

You are a searcher as well as a business owner. Think about how you feel when you search for a keyword term and the result is not relevant to what you’re looking for. If you’re like me, you’re not happy and hit the back button pretty quickly.

Then, think about how many times you get to a website and are not engaged by the website content and hit the back button.

Now, ask yourself – is my site and its pages relevant for searchers? Is it interesting? If not, you may have done a good job of SEO, but are not going to get the results you expect. To get results, you need to entice people to stay or stick.

Small Business SEO – What’s Your Purpose?

For every page on your site, you must explicitly state the purpose of that page. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Who is the target for this page?
  • What does a visitor to this page and site want?
  • Does this page give the visitor what they want?
  • Is the page unique and interesting?
  • What do I want the visitor to do? What is my “Call to Action.”
  • Is this the best content available on the web?

A website page for small business or local SEO should be crafted with purpose to meet the requirements of the questions listed above. Craft it so that after you’ve done the hard work to attract the visitor to your page, you get the payoff.

Great Content and SEO = Results

Great content by itself equals poor results. Great SEO, without great content, equals poor results. Put them together and you can achieve great results.

Every day more pages are created and indexed. Let’s be honest. Lots of these new pages are crap. They are little more than spam. Don’t join them. The difference that makes a difference in the future is going to be outstanding content.

Picture this as your content…

Ferrari for SEO

Not this…

Junk Car

Make Ferrari content, not junk content. Keep these images in mind every time you begin to develop content. It will be better if you turn our half  or even a third of the content and make it twice as good. Take the time to add photos and other images. Add video if you can. YouTube makes it easy to post there and then show it on your web page.

Combine great content and traffic generating SEO to produce the results you need for your business.

Read more about Small Business SEO and Local SEO.

Local SEO – Every Keyword is a Campaign

Keyword Campaign Index Card

Keyword Campaign Index Card

Here is your Local SEO 3×5 Card for the week focusing on keyword campaigns.

Search engines rank pages not websites. This is so important to keep in mind for local SEO. Even if CNN is ranking number one for your keyword term, you are competing against that page, not the CNN website.

If you set out with your small business SEO campaign thinking that you are going to beat a competitor’s website, you’re likely to waste time and money, make yourself very frustrated and end up believing that SEO doesn’t work.

Target One Keyword Phrase at a Time

We conduct market research and keyword research to determine the best targets for our website visitors. While you may have a list of 20 keywords that you want to target, you must consider each as a separate campaign. Why?

It’s really basic; search engines rank pages and you need to give them what they want to rank your page. To give them what they want you must provide the content that they’re looking for and send enough links to your pages to let the search engines know they are relevant and important.

And, never, never forget the customer. It does you no good to rank number one for a search term if your content doesn’t meet the searcher’s needs and answer their questions.

A Skirmish, A Battle, Or All Out War?

Now that you’re convinced that you need a campaign for each keyword term, how do we determine how big that campaign will be and how much time and money we’ll need to give the search engines and searchers what they want.

The Campaign Factors

Here are the factors that determine the extent of your campaign:

The Authority of Your Site
Your Conversion Goals


First, How many other pages are targeting this keyword phrase? But, more importantly, how many are intentionally and aggressively targeting this phrase. Do they have the keyword in the title, description, on the page several times, or, did they simply mention the term on their page. That happens a lot in Local SEO. It’s because no local businesses are targeting a good term, so other sites that simply mention the term, are ranking. A really fast check is to see how many links with the keyword in the anchor text are going to the page.

Competition varies even for the same term in a different location. It just depends if competitors in that town have begun their small business SEO campaigns.

Your campaign may be a single page, five pages or 50 pages or more. It depends on the term and the competition.

Your Site Authority

If CNN wanted to rank for your local keyword term, they would create page with relevant content, put the keyword in the article, title and description and then send a few links from their site to the page. A link from the home page would rank it number one forever.

CNN has authority. They have 1.5 million pages and 25 million links. What you have now can help you rank for other terms. If your site is 8 years old with 500 pages relevant to the new keyword campaign, then your work will be easier than if you have a new site.

Your Conversion Goals

What do you want the visitor to do once they get to your page? What action do you want? Is your page created to lead them to this action?

If you want people to contact you, then make it clear. If you want them to go to product pages, entice them to do it and make it easy. If you want to educate them first, then multiple pages with videos may be needed. What you need to do to lead visitors to your desired action determines the number of pages and the depth of content.

This Seems Like a Lot of Work!

Perhaps this seems like a lot of work for local SEO, but that’s why you do keyword research to make sure there’s traffic. You look to see if your competition has been running Adwords and how much they’re paying. You make sure it will be worth the effort before you target a competitive term. But, if the traffic is there and your term converts, your one time big effort with a little maintenance will pay off for years. What other marketing platform gives you what no cost organic local SEO provides?

My business has prospered using Daytona Beach SEO methods to give visitors and search engines what they want. It can work for you.

Assessing Local SEO Competition – Part 3

This is the third part of Assessing Local SEO competition and this one is where we introduce our:

Local SEO Secret Weapon

In Part 3, we’re going to talk about the tool I use to assess small business SEO competition quickly. The entire process shown here takes less than 10 minutes. The tool is Market Samurai. Of all my SEO tools, this is the one I use most often. It’s not free, but it’s the big time saver for assessing local SEO competition, helping you develop your SEO strategy and getting ranked and keeping ranked. Go to Assessing Local SEO Competition – Part 1 to start at the beginning of the series.

Market Samurai Logo

I’m not going to go into a lot of details of how to use Market Samurai. Instead, I’m going to show you the results

Keyword Research

We open Market Samurai, enter a new keyword and the go to Keyword Research – Biloxi Seafood Restaurant.

Keywords Full Screen

We click the Generate Keywords button. After Market Samurai churns for a bit, we get a list of relevant keywords. These keywords are coming from the same Google Keyword tool that we used in Part 2. 59 results are returned.

Keyword Results

The next step is to get more data and now you’ll see where this application really shines. Clicking the bottom right button marked “Keyword Analysis” takes us to that screen. After adjusting for just the data we want to see, I deleted unrelated keywords and got a list of 36 keywords. Here’s a look at part of that list.

Biloxi Seafood Results Biloxi Seafood Results Only

Let’s look at what each column is showing us:

Searches = Total Daily Searches
SEOT = Traffic the number one ranking could expect daily
PBR = Phrase to Broad Ratio (higher is better)
SEOC = SEO Competiton (anything under 200,000 is good)
AWCPC = Adwords Cost Per Click

We see that Biloxi Seafood Resturants has about 13 searches per day, or about 395 per month. Other terms are showing more traffic and we would want to target them as well, but we’ll stick with our targeted Biloxi Seafood Resturants for now. The PBR at 15% means that only 15% of search terms are exactly for the phrase “Biloxi Seafood Restaurants”. We would definitely need those other terms to get good traffic. The SEOC number of 10,500 is low, so that’s very favorable. There is some Adwords bidding at $1.40, and that’s good to see as well.

There’s plenty of more information available, but this is all we need to assess local SEO competition. The other information is great when you start laying out your site structure and content. That’s the Keyword Research Module, now let more on to finalizing of SEO competition assessment with the SEO Competiton Module.

SEO Competition Module

Here are the SEO Competition results for Biloxi Seafood Restaurants.

SEO Competition Results

We are going to dive deeper into Yelp and Mary Mahoney’s.

Here’s the column key:

DA = Domain Age
PR = Page Rank
IC = Google Index Count
RD = Referring Domains or how many unique domains are sending backlinks
BLP = Backlinks to the Page
BLD = Backlinks to the Entire Domain or site
Title = Keyword in Title of the Page
URL = Keyword in URL of the Page
Desc = Keyword in Description Meta Tag
Head = Keyword in a Heading Tag

We are primarily interested in BLP and Title, URL, Desc and Head. The BLD, DA, PR and IC are for reference. Big numbers in the second group make ranking a bit more difficult, but as long as the first group numbers are good, we’re okay.

Yelp is number one, but it’s based entirely on the strength of the domain and the size of the site, not the page. We covered this in Part 2, but a quick recap shows 15 links to the page, but over 39 million links to the site. They have the keyword term Biloxi Seafood Restaurant only in the Title tag.

Mary Mahoney’s is the first local restaurant showing. They have 226 links to the page, but as we’ll see in a minute, they are only ranking because of the number of links to the site. They have not included the keyword in their title, url, description or in heading tags.

Link Analysis

Now lets dig deeper. There a little arrow to the right of each URL listed. After I click that down arrow for the number one listing, we see:

Backlink Dropdown

We click the PR Analysis Button and after a minute or so, the following list shows:

Yelp Backlinks

These are the backlinks to the page, but there are only a few and they all come from the same site. We should be able to do better and beat this page.

Now let’s turn to Mary Mahoney’s. Here are the results of our backlink analysis:

Mary Mahoney Backlinks

Mahoney’s is showing 213 links to the page, but not a single one uses the anchor text – Biloxi Seafood Restaurant. We could not beat this sites ranking for Mary Mahoney’s, but beating it for Biloxi Seafood Restaurant should be doable.

Summary of Local SEO Analysis

No site has optimized aggressively for the search term – Biloxi Seafood Restaurant. For this term, we could create a few pages targeted to the term and generate backlinks until we rose in the rankings and stay near or at the top.

I also looked at the term – Biloxi Restaurants. We see much the same thing with the exception of a site on Biloxi Tourism in the number 2 spot. Their backlink profile includes only 1 backlink to the page. They are ranking because they have the keyword in their title, and the name of their site includes Biloxi. We should be able to rank for this term with a little work.

We are going to conclude this series in a few days with Assessing Local SEO Competition – Part 4. In part 4, we’ll recap the process and show a video of the actual process using Market Samurai. Please use this link if you’re interest in obtaining Market Samurai. In the interest of full disclosure, it’s my affiliate link. The software is a bit quirky and stalls sometimes, but the developers of the program keep up with changes in Google. I use it everyday. It saves me a tremendous amount of time in my Daytona Beach SEO and local SEO efforts. There’s a free trial. So give it a try.

A funny sidenote. The first part of this series is ranking number 74 in Google for Biloxi Seafood Restaurant based on having the keyword repeated in the body of the post.

Assessing Local SEO Competition – Part 1
Assessing Local SEO Competition – Part 2

Part 2 – Assessing Local SEO Competition

This is the second part of our Local SEO competition assessment series. In the first part we talked about the major factors in assessing your local competition. Be sure to read Assessing Local SEO Competiton – Part 1 before reading this second part.

We’ll continue with the example we used in Part 1 – Biloxi Seafood Restaurants. Using the Google Keyword Tool, we saw that there are over 33,000 monthly keyword searches related to our term. That’s significant traffic. The next step is to evaluate the top three positions for our example. When you actually perform this assessment, you will probably want to go at least 10 deep. If the competition is really strong, I would go out to 30 and more.

SeoQuake FireFox Plugin

The Firefox Browser is the browser used by many SEO specialist. It’s a great tool for small business SEO. The first step is making sure you have Firefox installed. If you don’t, go to and download it now.

The tool we’ll be using for our assessment in Part 2 is the SeoQuake plugin for Firefox. Go to and click the install SeoQuake button.

SeoQuake Install Button

You’ll see the following screen in Firefox.

install SEO Quake

Wait until the Install Button counts down and then click it. You may be asked to select whether you want parameter data to display automatically. Don’t select automatic, you don’t want the search engines hit every time you do a search; only when you want to analyze a page or site.

After the plugin installs, the Firefox Add-On Screen displays, click the Restart Button at the top on that screen.

Restart Firefox Button

When Firefox restarts, you’ll see the SeoQuake Toolbar.  I’ve shown only the left portion here. Let move on and start our analysis.

SEOQuake Tookbar

Top Three SERP Analysis

Let’s use the SeoQuake plugin to quickly look at the top three results on the Google search engine results page (SERP) for Biloxi Seafood Restaurants. I’m typing the term in without the quotation marks so that the Google Places results show.

Google Results Biloxi Seafood Restaurants

Let’s assess the first result – Biloxi » Restaurants » Seafood – Yelp. Click on that result to bring up the page. Now click on the Info Button on the SeoQuake Toolbar. A new tab displays with competitive information.

Yelp Result Parameters

There’s a lot of information on the page, but here are the factors where we will focus:




Google I (Indexed)
Rank (Alexa)


Yahoo L (Links to Page)
Yahoo LD (Links to Domain)

Keyword Density

Keyword density is the number of time a keyword phrase in mentioned in the page title, page description and in the page itself. Keyword density is often expressed as a percentage.

First Result Analysis

Is the phrase targeted? The page has a PageRank of 2 from Google which is just a relative measure. For local SEO, PageRank means very little. I include is here because you will hear of its importance as you reseach SEO. In local seo, it’s not very important unless the competition is very high.

Under the Domain section, we’re interested in the number of Pages Google has indexed. In this case over 32,000,000 for Yelp. However this is for the entire site. It means this is a huge site, but we are not competing with the site, we’re competing with the page. This is the most important point to remember for local SEO. You can beat larger sites for specific pages with a more targeted page and targeted links.

The Alexa Ranking, under Domain, is another relative indicator. It shows where Alexa ranks this site among all the sites on the web. Yelp is rated by Alexa at 195 out of all sites. This means Yelp gets a lot of traffic, but not necessarily to this page.

Under Backlinks, we see Yelp for this term has very strong domain results, but weak page results. There are over 39 million links to the entire domain (entire site) but only 15 to the page. They are ranking number one because of the weakness of the competition, not the strength of their page.

Under Keyword Density, we find what we’re looking for, by not finding what we’re looking for. Looking at the top 3 word phrases, we don’t find out term, but we need to back to the Yelp page and do one more quick check.

Yelp Keyword Density

The last button on the toolbar is Keyword Density. From the Yelp site page, click that button. All the keywords used on the page display. Now press CTRL+F (PC) on COMMAND+F (MAC). In the Find: box, type biloxi sea. The display will turn red and you’ll get a beep if you have sound on. This means Yelp does not even include our term on its page.

The results for Yelp are:

PR: 2
Google Indexed: 32,100,000
Alexa Rank 195
Yahoo Page Links: 15
Yahoo Domain Links: 39,037,953
Number of Times Keyword Phrase Used: 0

Don’t be scared off by large numbers of pages and links to the site. Yelp is not specifically targeting this page. They have the number one ranking because Google’s algorithm gave it to them because of the lack of real competition.

Results 2 and 3

Result 2 Assessment Results:

SERP result 2 is Seafood Restaurants in Biloxi, MS on Yahoo! Local.PR: 1

Google Indexed: 29,400,000
Alexa Rank 4
Yahoo Page Links: 0
Yahoo Domain Links: 1,747,824
Number of Times Keyword Phrase Used: 0

Result 3 Assessment Results

SERP result 3 is Biloxi Restaurants: Read Biloxi Restaurant Reviews – TripAdvisor.

PR: 3
Google Indexed: 26,400,000
Alexa Rank 287
Yahoo Page Links: 39
Yahoo Domain Links: 29,429,411
Number of Times Keyword Phrase Used: 0

Local SEO Assessment Analysis

Looking at these three local SEO results, I would feel pretty confident in getting on the first page of Googles for this keyword phrase by optimizing on page factors and then assuring 20-30 good quality links point at the page with the anchor text “Biloxi Seafood Restaurant” and closely related terms.  The top three sites are ranking because of the lack of an SEO campaign for the term.

Note that you can also download a CSV file of the SEOQuake data and import it into MS Excel.


In Part 2 of the local SEO assessment series, we covered the use of the SeoQuake Firefox Plugin. If you are doing one page, or a few pages, this is a great tool. It’s also a great tool for quickly checking pages and sites. However, if you have a large number of terms that you’re after, there’s a much faster way. We’ll cover that in a few days in Assessing Local SEO Competition – Part 3.

SEO Content – No, No, No

Newpaper Ad Image

Newpaper Ad Image

Writing your SEO Content just for the search engines is the biggest mistake you can make in your small business SEO. Yes, your content needs to exactly what the search engines are looking for, but that’s not nearly enough.

Let’s ask the real hard question. If you held an event for your business to attract visitors and one thousand people attended, but no one bought a thing, would you consider it a success? You would have spent your time, money and resources to attract those people, but it would have been a waste of time.

Let’s take it a step further. What if 90% of those people looked at your place of business and turned away before even entering? That would really be a disaster.

Keywords Are…

Keywords are phrases that you expect people to use when they think about your business. When they come to your site based on a keyword, they expect to find relevant content. Dry cleaners in South Beach is an example we’ll use. Now, many dry cleaners know how to create a print ad. They’ll include their name, hours, telephone number and services like one-hour dry cleaning, dry cleaning large pieces, 10% off Wednesday and so on. Why include those items in their ad? Because they know people are looking for them. Keywords are advertisements! They won’t run their ad in Jupiter for their South Beach cleaner; they’ll run it close to home.

I go to many small business websites where I find less information on the page that an SEO expert sent me to, than in the ad described for the dry cleaner. If it’s there, I can’t find it easily. I’m not willing to search through a website to find the hours of operations, or if they offer one day service. Are you?

Let’s say I’m staying in South Beach and I need my suit pressed. I do a quick search with the term, “same day dry cleaning in South Beach”. I type in the term with the quotation marks to see if anyone is specifically targeting that term. They’re not. Not a single dry cleaner in the whole Miami area is targeting same day dry cleaning in South Beach. Why? Because they are more concerned about being ranked for “dry cleaning in South Beach” (1,238 results) or “dry cleaning in Miami” (68,500 results).

If I’m looking for a simple thing like a dry cleaner for something I want done specifically, why can’t I find it? Because, SEO experts will write SEO content for the search engines, not for paying customers. Remember the quip that a search engine has never bought a thing. Customers buy.

What’s Most Important to Your Customer?

When you hire expert content writers, you’re taking a big chance that they’ll miss the little things that you know about your business. They will be doing keyword searches and find that there are no searches listed in Google for same day dry cleaning in South Beach. There are no searches listed for dry cleaning in South Beach. So, what do they do? They look for a big search terms like dry cleaners Miami that show about 2.400 search per month.

So when you and I go searching for a dry cleaner in South Beach, no one figured out that that’s how we search and targeted it in their website content. Google would love that if you serve South Beach, you optimize your website pages for the terms that people are searching for every day. In this case, they are forced to come up with an answer. Really, they are approximating the best they can. Why not help them? On top of that, Google says that half the search terms entered are unique. It’s because people search exactly for what they want.

The common sense that was present when the print ad was created, disappeared when the SEO content was written. The website visitor or customer was forgotten.

Please, Please, Please Write for the Customer

If you remember nothing else about writing content for your website, remember to write for your customer. Whatever page you’re writing, write it for the customer first and then go back and add your targeted keywords if necessary. By writing for the customer, you will be optimizing for local SEO without trying. You’ll be writing about what they’re looking for.

Here’s a big SEO tip. Find a copy of the Yellow Pages. Go to the listings for your type of business. Write down everything that they are advertising and the information they’re displaying in their ads. These are the things that they are using to attract customers. Shouldn’t you being using them too?

For local content writing for small business, start as though you had a 2 x 2 inch display ad. What would you say? What if you had a half page, then a full page? What if you wrote a brochure about your business? This will give you the content for your site and what you customers are looking for.

Assessing Local SEO Competition – Part 1

Biloxi Seafood Wonder Wheel

How much should it cost you for your local seo program? The answer is based on one key factor – competition for the keywords you’re targeting.

Assessing Local SEO Competition – Part 1

This will be a multi-part series on assessing small business SEO local competition. This first part will define exactly what we will be looking for to determine the level of competition. Parts to follow will deal with tools for manual assessment and then tools for automating the assessment process.

Here are the factors we will looking at in Part 1:

Who’s Number 1?
Google Places
Adwords Competition
Google Keyword Traffic
Google Recommendation
Real SEO Competition

Who Is Ranking Number 1 in Google?

It’s best to use an example. Since we are focusing on small business, let’s go with a geographically targeted keyword phrase – Biloxi Seafood Restaurants. Although I picked Biloxi randomly, it is a good example of how small businesses are addressing local SEO.

So, the question is who among the local Biloxi seafood restaurants in number 1? The answer is not as easy as it looks. First Mary Mahoney’s is at the top of the Google Places 7-pack.

Google Places for Biloxi Seafood

Google places are not part of SEO, but SEO is part of Google Places. I’ll explain shortly. For now though, see the Mary Mahoney’s is first in Google Places.

Looking at the top 10 listings in the natural or organic search results, we see no local restaurants with the exception of Bonefish Grill which is a national chain. All the other organic listings are from Yelp, Yahoo and other aggregators. By aggregator, I mean a site that take information for a location, builds a page and then has it rank because of the size of the site (in number of pages).

Organic Listing for Biloxi Seafood

Mary Mahoney’s is the first organic listing for a local restaurant – at the top of page two. No other local restaurant is ranked in the top 50 of Google results. Mary Mahoney’s has the top Google Places listing and the top organic listing. This is unlikely an accident. Mary Mahoney’s is at the top of Google Places because they are the top organically ranked site. Otherwise, neither Mahoney’s or any other Biloxi seafood restaurant is aggressively pursuing SEO.

Google Places

We discussed Google Places above. It is the easiest way to get on the first page of Google – FOR NOW! The key ingredients are reviews and other pages linking to the site with information that Google considers important for Places rankings.

Do you need to be in Google Places. Yes, absolutely starting yesterday. Competitors who are there now are ahead of you in reviews and probably in SEO. Get in Google Places now.

Adwords Competition

A quick competitive review is to make sure there are a few Adwords present. There are only a few Adwords bids showing for Biloxi Seafood Restaurant. It’s probably not a highly searched term, so let’s move to the next step.

Google Keyword Traffic

Access the Google Adwords Keyword Tool by typing “google keyword tool” into the Google search box. Once at the keyword tool, type Biloxi seafood restaurants in the Word or Phrase box. Enter the captcha in the box and click the search button. We see (on this day) that there are 390 monthly searches for Biloxi Seafood Restaurants. That’s about 13 a day. Not a high number, but not bad for one term. Look at the rest of the list we exported from the keyword tool and you’ll see more terms to add to the total:

Biloxi Seafood Restaurant Keywords

Look at the total – 33,439 monthly searches for keyword terms related to Biloxi Seafood Restaurants. Most of that traffic right now is going to the aggregators and they can be pretty easily outranked. If a seafood restaurant in Biloxi wanted to increase sales, there is a golden opportunity. Look at the Competition column. A higher number means more competition, with 1 being the most competitive. This is a low competition market. There is plenty of traffic and low competition. Small Business SEO with Google Places would yield a lot of traffic within six months to year, but probably a lot sooner.

Google Recommendations

Type Biloxi Restaurants in the Google search box and click search. Go to the bottom of the page and you’ll see, Searched related to Biloxi Restaurant. As you can see, Google is giving you additional search terms.

Biloxi Seafood Related Sites

Next, look on the left column of the search results. Click on show search tools and then Wonder Wheel. What have we here? Google is showing more search terms that are related to your term. Analyze each of these terms in the same way and you can see that there is a lot of opportunity.

Biloxi Seafood Wonder Wheel

Real SEO Competition

When you type Biloxi Seafood Restaurants in the Google search box, you’re getting what are called broad match results. This means that Google will give you results broadly related to your term. Type “Biloxi Seafood Restaurants” with the quotes and you are getting Phrase match terms. What is the difference? They show us if anyone is aggressively targeting your search term. They are giving a key element of local SEO competition.

Here are the results in terms of pages returned for each type for Biloxi Seafood Restaurants:

Broad Match – 380,000 pages
Phrase Match – 10,800 pages

We can see that only 2.8% of the pages that Google show in broad match show in phrase match, but let’s take it one step further. Type allintitle:Biloxi Seafood Restaurants. The results show on 363 pages in the world have our search term in the title. Now type allintitle:”Biloxi Seafood Restaurants”. The results drop to 68. That’s our competitive number. These are the pages we need to beat. How tough can that be?

Page Links

The first result of the 68 phrase match allintitle is from Yelp. It is showing 102 backlinks to the page using Yahoo! Site Explorer ( However, site explorer shows only 15 of those links are from external sources and all of those are from one site (Yahoo Local). That’s the number one result and they are there not because of the page strength, but because of the site size. A local site using local SEO should be able to gain that number one listing over time. There’s no guarantee but it should be accomplished in a short period of time.


There’s a lot of material here when you look at it for the first time. We describe the different elements here so that when we talk about automating the process, you’ll know what’s behind the scenes. You can check a few sites following this method, but come back in a few days for Part 2 of Assessing Local SEO Competition. If you have questions or comments just type them in the comment box below.

Small Business SEO Investment

Small Business SEO Investment

Are you making a big mistake with your marketing and advertising dollars? Many business owners are now making a different marketing choice by making the small business SEO investment.

Small Business SEO Investment

This is the second 3x5xSEO index card article. Looking at the card, the left line shows cost and the bottom line shows time. I love the simplicity of this 3×5 card and what it shows. Traditional media buys include television, newspaper, magazine, radio, TV, billboards and signs, park benches, bus advertising and more. A new media buy platform has emerged in the past 10 years – internet advertising on other people’s platforms.

The biggest new media platform is Google and its Adwords program. This is PPC or pay per click advertising. Google puts your ad on its search results page and on other sites in their content network. You bid for a keyword term and the cost will be pretty high in competitive markets. PPC can be very effective, but you pay by the click. You are spending every time someone clicks on your ad. Other internet advertising opportunities are available too. You can put text ads or display ads on many sites. You may pay by the click or by the month, but you must continue to pay for your ad to display.

The Biggest Opportunity for Small Business Marketing

Never before in the history of business, has a small business owner had the opportunity to create their own platform to market their products and services. Only a few years ago, if a small business created a newsletter or catalog, they would still need to buy names or distribution for their creations. The internet has changed everything.

The New Marketing Model vs. Old Models

The internet gives you, the small business marketer, the opportunity to directly present your story, your unique vision, your character and your products and services to people who are actually looking for what you have to offer. Contrast this model or method to the old model. Let’s use newspapers as an example.

In the newspapers model, you pay for your ad placement. Unless you pay for multiple placements, your ad is in one place in the whole newspaper. If a reader happens to read the page your ad is on, happens to see your ad, and, is interested at that time, then they might call you or visit your business. That’s a lot of ifs. To get a regular stream of customers, you must pay over and over again. It’s call advertising expense – not investment.

Using small business SEO flips the old model upside down. First, SEO is targeted. You are presenting your business to people who are looking for you and your products. Second, there are still a few ifs, but they’re ifs you can control. If your content grabs their attention, and if your content keeps their attention, and if it provides what they’re looking for, they will take the next step to becoming a buying customer. Wow, what a difference. A precise targeted model vs. placing an ad and crossing your fingers.

Investment vs. Expense

Now for the harsh reality. If you are in a competitive market, you will need to invest your own time and resources in building your SEO presence, or you will need to engage an SEO consultancy. There will be initial costs in setting up your website, creating a good design, building the best possible content and then external link building to get your site ranked. The cost will be based on online competition in the market. In many markets the competition is light, in others its tough. But that’s good. If you see two or three other businesses competing hard, it means there’s business to be had.

Think And – Not Either / Or

You may be thinking, wait a minute. My advertising is working. I’m not going to give it up. You’re right, you shouldn’t give up somethings that working, but can you afford not to be in the space that the whole world is moving into? Internet marketing is exploding because internet usage is exploding. More and more people are using search engines and social media to find business products and services. If you are not in the internet space and you’re not already at a competitive disadvantage, it’s likely that you will be soon.

At a minimum, isn’t it time you assessed your small business SEO investment? Contact me at 386-295-2049 if you’d like to know more.

The Elements of Local SEO

Local SEO Image

Local SEO Image

Local SEO will be the primary source of search engine traffic for many small businesses. When we talk about local SEO, two distinctions are important. First, you are local if you are selling to the local community. Think of a hardware store or beauty salon. Second, you are local if you are selling some tangible property both to locals and out of area people. Think real estate, classic cars, boats and so on.

The elements of a local SEO campaign are fairly basic, but can get more complex depending on the business. We recommend all local small businesses have a website with a domain name that they own. Do not put your main site on free hosting of any kind. The major elements of local SEO are:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • SEO Content
  • Links
  • Google Places
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


The first major element must be your website. The website should be designed to reflect your business. Remember, your website will be the first impression for your business when visitors come to the site. You want them to be impressed enough to stay awhile. Ask the hard questions, why would a visitor want to come to my site and why would they want to stay? Make sure your site answers the question. The website is the primary elements of your website.

Your Blog

The next element is a blog. We recommend WordPress for building both your website and your blog. A professional template will also take care of design. Use static pages for your website and posts for your blog entries. Blog entries will rank in the search engines on their own, but they will also allow you to send links to your pages and other posts. Your blog can be part of the website or stand-alone. It’s easier if it’s part of the main site, but if you have an existing website, it may sense to create a new domain and host the blog there.

SEO Content

In many cases, you will be concentrating on geographic keyword targeting. Simply this means, Marion CPA and Accounting, rather than CPA and Accounting. Many local searches are geographically targeted. All the services and products that you offer should be targeted using your local community or communities. Towns, cities, neighborhood names and so on should be targeted. Use the town and the state too. Make sure that your pages and posts are titled using these geo targeted keywords.

Not all local businesses will use geo targeting, but if you are serving the local community, geo targeting is absolutely critical. Create lots of pages and posts about your products and services.


80% of competitive keyword rankings come from off page SEO factors and links are what that 80% is all about. More competition means more external links to your pages. Links with anchor texts for your chosen keywords act as votes for that page. You may need a few links or a few hundred links to push your page to the top of the listings. Link building is critical you must learn to build links or find someone who can do it for you. Check out Off Page SEO Factors for more on link building.

Google Places

If you have a local address where you do business, you must be on Google places. These are the listings that are showing at the top of local Google search results pages with the flag and a Google Map. You can see it here for San Diego Florist. In some markets the competition will be low and just signing up through your Google account will be enough. In other markets, competition for the seven listed positions will be tough and you will need expert assistance. Regardless, this is the easiest way to get to the top of the listings.

Google Places Example


Facebook is growing and more people join everyday, but it’s not for every business. My take for now is that a Facebook page (your business page, not your personal page) is more informational and supporting for most local small businesses – with a few exceptions. Those exceptions are businesses like bars, clubs and restaurants that have live entertainment and events. You customers will be happy to know that you are offering updates and more information on the acts and events. If you have a constantly changing mix of products, make your announcements in both your blog and Facebook. Offering coupons on Facebook will keep people coming back.

Note: If you’re not going to regularly engage with your Facebook followers, don’t start the effort. It will disappoint and alienate people.


Open a account on Twitter just for your business. Twitter is like a carnival barker standing in cyberspace announcing things about your business. It can be a source of customers and followers if you offer them Twitter only deals, limited time deals and so on. Twitter can also be used to announce specials on your Facebook page or on your website. Twitter coupon codes can also work. Tweet things relevant to your business, not too much about you personally. Yes, people like to get to know you, but they don’t want to know what you’re doing unless it’s about your business topic.


Sometimes, local SEO can be accomplished with just a website with good content and a few good backlinks from other sites. It can also demand additional effort and investment if competition is high. Local SEO is no longer optional. More and more customers are finding local businesses through search engines. Make sure you’re where you need to be. Contact Mike at 386-295-2049 to discuss your options. I’m a Daytona Beach SEO specialist, but I serve the world.