Small Business SEO – The 5 Second Page Test

This page is about the time a visitor will spend to figure out if your page is worth skimming. Small business SEO and content are pieces of the same puzzle. What would happen if you gave every page on your site a five second test? Would visitors be able to understand what the page is about in those few short seconds?

Structure For Visitor Evaluation

I created a video a few days back on the search process. Go to Understanding The Search Process Video to view it. Let’s look at the key image from the video:

The SEO Search Process

See that evaluation diamond, or decision block? That’s where we have 5 seconds to capture the visitors attention and help them decide if they’re in the right place.

Do Page Elements Support Visitor Evaluation?

To help visitors to evaluate your pages in 3-6 seconds, the page needs to be structured for fast evaluation and analysis because at the end of those few seconds, the visitor will:

  • Start skimming to learn more
  • Click the back button and move on to the next result

The Three Key Page Elements for Visitors

You should be familiar with the three key elements to capture visitor attention and help them evaluate a web page because they’re all right here on the page:

  • Images
  • Section Titles
  • Highlighting – bullets, numbering, bold

These elements are common to the web and help people understand the purpose of the page. Just having the elements isn’t enough. They also need to be relevant. Always keep in mind that visitors coming from a search engine are coming from a specific term. Their search term is their intent.

SEO is about targeting a visitor’s intent for specific keywords and keyword clusters. When a visitor comes from the search engine for a keyword phrase, the page content MUST match the visitors intent. Now, as the keyword term becomes more specific you have a better chance for a match. A user typing the word “orange” into Google is not being very specific, but when they type in “orange reflective paint,” they’re being specific and the content needs to be specific to that term.

Make Your Page Purpose Obvious

Give the purpose of the page above the fold of the page with an image, headings, bolding and any other method you can. In the example above, the image of a can of orange reflective paint with a color swatch would get the visitors attention immediately moving them to skim the page for more. If they like what they see, they’re on their way to reading your content and ordering your product.

There are many way to achieve affordable small business SEO, but laser-like keyword targeting and matching content will keep visitors on your pages longer so that you can get your message to them. Lots of traffic that doesn’t stick around long is very expensive.

Small Business SEO – Think Like A Small Business Owner!

Affordable small business SEO is not about attacking huge competitors for major keyword phrases. It is about finding keyword variations and long tail keywords.

You have a huge advantage because you know your customers, their needs and the questions they regularly ask. The people doing SEO for big companies have probably never met a customer.

Chris Anderson wrote The Long Tail in 2006. Here’s how he summarized the long tail (

The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.

The long tail is your advantage. That’s were your internet marketing can make you the most money.

Big Company Weakness – Your Opportunity

Service is the weakness of big companies and big brands. It’s expensive for them and the people making decision often haven’t talk with a real customers in years. You know when companies are trying to figure out how long a caller will wait on hold without getting angry, there’s an opportunity for real people doing business with real people.

You frustrate and anger your customers when you act like a big business. Small business SEO is about small business and you need to think that way. I hate it, yes really hate it, when a small businesses starts telling that something is against their policy. That’s a big business cost control response. Why would a small business do that?

Who Are You?

You’re not this:

McDonalds Store Phote

You’re more like this:

Paris Cafe Small Business

Be A Small Business – Act Your Size

Acting like McDonalds when you own a cafe, it just plain not going to work. Acting like McDonalds in small business SEO is not going to work either. Big companies have national brands and lots of locations or outlets. You have service, flexibility, speed and local knowledge.

You cannot compete with a national brand on their terms, but they can’t compete with you on your terms. You can be finished with making a change or pursuing a market opportunity before they even have their first meeting.

Small Business is Beautiful

You can pursue market opportunities profitably where your big competitors can’t even afford to analyze the market. They need big numbers to cover big costs. You don’t. You can dominate smaller market niches and segments where the cost of entry for them is too high.

Leverage your advantages and don’t compete against big competitor strengths. Small is beautiful and keep that in mind when you approach local SEO and small business SEO.

Small Business SEO – SEOMOZ Link Building

Backlinks ImageLink building is a challenge for most small business owners. It’s a lot of work and the temptation for often disastrous shortcuts is always there. But, link building is a critical component to small business SEO success.

Josh Gill over at SEOMOZ, published a good post this morning at the SEOMOZ blog – The Daily SEO Blog. His The Five Linking Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making, is a great start for anyone new to link building, and a really good reminder of some link building basics for the more experienced practitioners.

First, I agree with Josh’s Five Link Building Mistakes to Avoid:

#1- Judging a Site’s Authority by PageRank Alone:
#2 Building Links with Only One Keyword or Keyword Phrase:
#3 Aiming for a Billion Links!
#4 Only Link to Your Homepage:
#5 Analyze Competitors Backlinks Who Don’t Rank for your Target Keywords:

That being said, there are a few points that I believe add to the conversation (remember these are mistakes to avoid):

#6 Don’t Have a Plan for Linking:

Linking when you get the urge usually means that you’re not going to do much linking. Once you figure out what you need in the number and quality of links, put a plan in place to get those links. For small business and local SEO, I usually set the goals of building links over 3 months period. The first three months for a campaign will be the most intensive. After that, it’s a regular, but reduced schedule for a year. Finally, once all the targeted rankings are reached, a link maintenance plan is put into place.

#7 Link Once in awhile with a big push

Sending a bunch of links to a site and then dropping down to nothing is not a good idea. It’s not natural and there’s a good chance that the links are discounted by the search engines. If your going to send 1,300 links to a site over 13 weeks, make the rate about 100 per week, not all at once.

#8 Forget About Your Internal Links

I see it over and over again. Site owners, blogger’s, small business SEO practitioners, and others are on an internal link diet. There are no links in the content. Your pages count just like external pages. If your pages are in the search engine index, link to your money pages, your main content and other pages that need a boost. Put in one link to one of your own pages or posts for every 100-150 words.

Read Josh’s post here ==> The Five Linking Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making.