SEO for Small Business

The Dilemma

Huh – SEO? This is my team building blog; am I crazy? Probably. But I want to have a little fun and also share the beginning of my latest journey. About a month ago I decided it was time to focus on ‘getting found’. My team building programs are keeping me busy, so busy in fact that this has become a real business. I now have to think intentionally about sustaining, growing and spreading the word. I need those of you who might be looking for a team building activity to be able to find me easily, and perhaps before you find my competition. (Of course, I don’t think I have any competition, cause I’m so cool, hah!) In order to get found I need to employ inbound marketing and one of the first steps is search engine optimization (SEO).

The Search

My first thought in the process was to find an expert and hire him/her. Not so easy. I found an expert, with great references and a great plan. $9,000 for the first three months and $1,500 per month after that. Did I say SMALL business? Guess he didn’t hear me. Then I discovered hubspot… oh yeah, I should take a step backward and explain. I’m already active in social media, twitter, facebook, linkedin and other sites I’ve probably forgotten that I’ve created accounts on. So anyway, through social media I heard about hubspot and I spent some time researching it and talking with their sales folks. While it’s a great inbound marketing system, I decided not to sign up, at least not just yet. Hubspot wanted me to migrate my website (CMS) to their system. While migration is not necessarily permanent, it’s a big commitment. And I wasn’t ready to get married, without having first dated a while in the SEO arena. One of the first people I spoke with on my quest was Marcus Sheridan. Marcus owns a successful pool company and he credits Hubspot with some of that success. He now advises on hubspot and inbound marketing in general. Marcus was generous with his time and knowledge when we spoke. He’s smart, personable and always willing to share his enthusiasm and expertise for marketing. But as I said, I wasn’t quite sure about hubspot. In my continuing search I stumbled upon Olin Hyde. Olin had commented in a blog discussion about wordpress sites. So for Olin, a blog comment led to a potential customer, me. In Olin, I also found a wise, generous and very enthusiastic expert on inbound marketing, and business in general. Olin’s personal advice was DIY (more work for me!). My first reaction was, dang…. why can’t I just pony up the $9k for a three month SEO consultancy. Or why am I not just brave enough to marry hubspot?

The Strategy

But the more I thought about it, the more DIY made sense. There are so many great tools out there, so much information and some passionate, honest and helpful people to commiserate with. Because even with a complete package or consultant, I’d still have to put in a lot of time to begin the process of optimizing my site and then creating valuable content on an ongoing basis. So I’m jumping in, or jumping off, because I do practice what I preach. In my speaking presentations about Harnessing Your Creative Power I talk about the creative type and how it’s important be able to jump off a cliff, trusting that the wings will appear on the way down, or at least a net at the bottom. So I’ve  jumped off my next cliff and hopefully this journey will serve my ultimate and quite simple goal – to grow my business – to create inbound traffic to my website: simple (in theory).

The Action Steps

I’m going to school, virtually that is. Olin told me about Inbound Marketing University. I’m about four hours through a 16 hour course and it’s great. I’m planning on using SEOmoz, at least for a while. It’s not the most often used set of tools by small business owners like myself. I’ve inferred from what I’ve read that it gets used a lot by SEO professionals. But I plan on being a dangerous amateur within a few months and I’m going to try it for a while. And I’m changing my wordpress theme, moving to Headway. To help with that I’ve found Caitlin at Rent A Geek Mom. Caitlin has a unique skill set: CMS & CRM, a little geekiness, she’s part of the Headway team, AND she’s a great communicator who was able to provide me with clarity and gave me the confidence to move forward – because I know that the first step is to make my website easier to work with, to have more flexibility to begin the SEO optimization process, and then be able to add and integrate stuff easily…. like landing pages, CTA’s, media, WP plug-ins like Scribe SEO for blogging, I could go on and on.

The Summary

I’m going to make sure my website’s on an optimal platform, began the SEO optimization process, employ tools to convert contacts to leads and leads to clients. And most importantly, I’m going to do my best to create GOOD CONTENT in my efforts to build inbound links.

What I Really Want!

My fantasy is that an inbound marketing white knight will read this post and take me on as a test case, or charity case or something, and then I won’t have to do anything myself!!! But in the meantime, I sincerely hope you’ll comment below and get in touch. For me, the fun is in the community we build during our journey of discovery.

Billy Kirsch

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8 Responses to SEO for Small Business

  1. Chris Stone says:

    Billy, you definitely talked to one of the all stars in Marcus Sheridan. He’s done some really tremendous things with his pool business.

    One of the things about “getting found” is that SEO is only a part of getting found. You’re already on the right track in your blogging efforts. The key is to make sure your article titles and website page titles are optimized for your best keywords. Plus, you need to make sure you’re sharing every article you write on the social networks (I’m sure you already knew this) and to make sure it’s easy for your readers to share your content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social sites.

    I don’t know if there’s such a thing as an inbound marketing “white knight”, but I do know there are lots of good agencies that provide great services.

    Best of luck!
    Chris

  2. kidbilly says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks so much for the thoughtful comments. I’m excited to be getting into all of this. I’m going to visit your website, and I’ll make a point of getting in touch!

  3. Billy, this was great man. Love reading about your journey and appreciate the mention too. You’re on your way to success, the key is just leaping out into the water and getting wet….and I mean really wet

    Best!!

    Marcus

  4. kidbilly says:

    Thanks Marcus,

    I’ll look forward to staying in touch, and yes I agree, can’t do this halfway!

  5. Olin Hyde says:

    Awesome! I know several people that use Caitlin at Rent A Geek Mom. I really think you are doing what is best. Moreover, your approach is a great example for other entrepreneurs to follow. Outsourcing is great for highly specialized tasks that are difficult to learn or impossible to do for yourself. Neurosurgery is a good example. SEO is not. Moreover, it is foolish to outsource activities that are core to your business success — such as marketing, innovation and basic technology. Thus, DIY SEO is the right answer for almost all small businesses. The consultant that wanted to charge for SEO services was asking for a reasonable fee — although there is no way to know if the service would be worth it until you are 6 months into the contract. And it would be even more difficult to determine unless you know enough about SEO to determine the veracity of what they are doing — just look at what happened to Overstock.com from blindly outsourcing SEO… ouch!

    Great work and I love you posting. Also, many thanks for the mention. I consider you more of an inspiration than a potential client.

    All the best to you,

    Olin

  6. kidbilly says:

    Thanks Olin,

    Your reiteration for the soundness of my plan will give me confidence during the tough times.

  7. Love this post, Billy, because you covered all the steps that a small business owner like yourself is likely to take! I’m guessing this will help folks who read this in the future. Love the way you broke it out into the problem, strategy, solution! Taking the time to learn about the different areas of your business will only help you grow and make the best possible decisions moving forward. ROCK ON!

  8. kidbilly says:

    Thanks Caitlin,

    I do hope this helps others, it can be a confusing landscape.

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