There are just under 30 million small businesses in the U.S. That’s about one business for every ten people. As a small business owner in your city, you compete with dozens of others who offer the same or similar products and services in your regional or local market.

What does that mean? Well, it means you really have to stand out to get noticed – and get new customers.

With technology pushing ahead ever faster each day and social media intertwined with all our lives on a daily basis, that means the marketing noise factor for your services is very high. Marketing now is also almost completely dependent on the effective use of all that technology.

Plus, over 55 TRILLION dollars will change hands to the Millennials and newer, more tech-savvy generations over the coming years.

If you’re to get noticed, that means you must have a solid presence on the web, social media and, most importantly, web search via Google and Bing. There’s just no denying it and those business owners who rely solely on foot traffic, their business networks, referrals, friends, and family or old-school techniques like the paper will either not grow their fortunes or, worse, fade almost completely away.

So how do you get more home buyers and sellers to your door? A good web presence and one that scores well in search is the ticket. Same as it ever was since “The Google” came about.

Here are 5 keys to getting found in web search.

  1. Get Mobile-Ready: Google’s algorithm changes over the last year or so have indicated a strong move to emphasize how mobile web searchers find things they want and need on the web. Your site must be what’s called “mobile responsive” so it adjusts in all the right look and feel (and functional) ways when viewed on mobile devices. Effectively, the desktop is dead (well, dying). If your site doesn’t pass the responsiveness tests Google runs against it when it’s indexed, your site simply won’t rank. Be sure your website developers build your site with built-in responsiveness and also something called AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages. This Google-created project ensures websites are fast when viewed on mobile; another huge ranking criteria for Google now. If you had your website built any time prior to now, the chances are you don’t have either one. Over 99% of small business owners for whom we build high-performing custom websites don’t have responsive sites or AMP.
  2. Emphasize Solid Technical SEO – A site’s technical configuration is supremely important for getting good rankings in search results. Sadly, most owners have bad or even non-existent technical SEO because most web development firms and hosting companies simply put together a good-looking site and don’t ever configure the site itself with proper headings, meta tagging, titles, sitemaps and dozens more important technical items. Agents are not web developers, nor should they be. That said, most web hosting companies take advantage of the small businesses not being able to know whether they’re doing a good job or not since most owners equate a good-looking site with one that performs well. Nope. Never the case. A good way to keep them honest? Once the site is up, head over to an SEO audit tool site like https://www.woorank.com/ and run it against your domain. Save the results or take a screenshot of the results screen, share it with your web development company and make them fix the problems. You may not understand all the report items, but they surely will. Hold them to addressing all the errors and problems – or find yourself another web hosting company.
  3. Get Great Web Content – You can have a good looking site all day long, but if the menus, images, video and, most importantly, the copy (i.e. the words on your site) are not very well-designed to match a good search engine strategy for keywords and phrases, you simply won’t rank. Most business owners make the mistake of writing their own copy or forcing their developers to go with their own desired words instead of time-tested, researched and purposefully-designed content aimed at hitting the mark on Google search trends for relevancy and volume. If your web company is giving you advice on wording, you’re smart to accept it. They’ve likely researched the trends and are trying to get more people to your door for you. The words on your site matter – almost more than anything else. Google’s crawler and search indexing processes actually use artificial intelligence to try to “understand” what your site is about like a human would and thus rank it correctly. That understanding can be helped or harmed by picking words you like as opposed to words that are researched to be effective. Hire a good developer familiar with SEO. You should even think about hiring a web copywriter from a service like www.upwork.com. A few hundred dollars can make the difference in getting web copy that gets you ranked vs. years in Google’s search doghouse.
  4. Monitor Your Site Every Month – Launching your site isn’t the end, it’s only the beginning. Having good copy and content on your site when you launch isn’t an end all, be all either. Google makes at least a few changes to their search indexing every single day. As well, they frequently make major changes to their ranking criteria too. That means what works on day one to attract visitors to your site may not be as effective the next month and so on. If you don’t have a web partner or hosting company who can monitor your site’s performance and make changes to your technical SEO, your copy and other software components, you won’t appear in Google’s search results when your target customers change their search habits. It’s that simple. Stay on top of it or you won’t rank.
  5. Build Backlinks – Good sites always have other sites that reference them by linking to them on the web. Google thinks very highly of this as well, since it shows your site has authority in a given subject matter. Remember the part above about Google trying to understand what your site is about? Part of how it does this is to take other sites’ words for it. In other words, the more often other respected and authoritative sites link to your site, the more Google can be sure your site is exactly what it thinks it is. Building backlinks is an activity you should set aside an hour or two per week to do. Over time, it will really boost your SEO. Some good ways to do it? Ask established real estate bloggers to let you write guest posts. Publish expert advice on sites relevant to your offerings or industry and also use Medium. Comment on posts by others too and make sure to Tweet a lot and post on Facebook often. It helps other people find you who might also backlink to your site.

These 5 things can help you in your fight (and it is a fight!) to stay search-relevant. Times are quickly changing and small business marketing is too. The owners who get digitally-savvy quickly won’t be the dead.

Finally, know what is perhaps the number one things you can do to help your SEO?

Realize how important it is and that it’s a long, long-term activity you must commit to not just for the time it takes to get your site up and running, but over the entirety of your career. It’s just the reality of the situation.

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About the Author

Jason Polancich

Jason Polancich is a linguist, software engineer, data scientist, intelligence analyst, and real estate broker and investor with his wife and business partner Rebekah. He's also the founder and lead architect of VandalsSmile, a data-driven, small business marketing and lead generation network making big data work practically and usefully for owners. Polancich also originally created HackSurfer/SurfWatch Labs (Pre-VC), a cyber analytics firm founded in 2013 that provides highly accurate, timely and actionable information to businesses regarding the cybercrime threats they face. Polancich is a serial entrepreneur focused on solving complex internet commerce, data analysis, and cyber-defense problems. Novii Design, a company he co-founded in 2005 with Rebekah Lewis-Polancich, was based on his contributions to cloud architectures, distributed computing, data analysis and systems integration. The company assisted the U.S. Intelligence Community and Department of Defense in building some of the largest data warehouse and analysis systems ever put into operation within the government and defense contracting sectors. Novii Design was sold to Six3/CACI in 2010. Polancich is also a service-disabled veteran of the U.S. Army. Amazon Author Profile.

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