Kim is the founder of Insight Online, an SEO and Online Marketing agency based in New Zealand. For 8 years, Kim has helped a lot of small and big businesses reach the sweet spots in Google (and a few others that matter).
I got an opportunity to get Kim to share his experience with me and since the interaction had quite a lot of useful information in it, I decided to publish it here so that it can help you guys by providing an insight into a professional SEO marketer’s opinion on a few common questions faced by small businesses in the early phases of his business.
Q 1. It has become very evident over the years that content is king, but a lot of small business owners are not interested in producing content at all. What is your advice to people who do not have any time to produce high quality content?
A 1. Yes we come across this issue quite a lot across all sizes of businesses not just small ones. It’s difficult because unless content marketing is in your actual business model, it can seem like a waste of money. Content marketing in how we use it for our clients, is not something that you can just “do” and expect to have good results.
So something that I try to figure out before suggesting content marketing for my clients is how it would fit into their business model. What audience would you try to target? A primary audience of generating leads? A secondary audience of generating brand awareness or a tertiary audience more for SEO and link baiting? All are important but depending on the business and the stage it is in, your content marketing strategy, content and goals will differ.
So my advice for businesses considering content marketing would be: Think about how it fits into your overall business strategy, what audience you would like to target and what you would like to achieve with your content. If you’ve thought about these things beforehand, any content you produce will have a far greater chance of success.
Q 2. That’s a very realistic perspective on Content Marketing Kim but unfortunately that’s how a lot of businesses still see it. The tactics you have mentioned above also revolve around creating something worthwhile in terms of social currency and perhaps requires a lot of effort from SEO folks I believe. Now, given that a huge percentage of businesses close within the first year of opening, what would you recommend — putting your budget into the PPC to get some quick clients or focussing on the organic SEO of your website so that the company benefit from it long term?
A 2. Generally, with my clients, I’ll always advise Google Adwords first before investing in SEO. There are a few reasons for this:
- Paid search will get you some traffic quickly.
- Paid search will give you an idea of how successful your SEO strategy can be. The worst thing you can do is invest time and effort into SEO and then finding out it’s not the right channel. Doing some paid search first will inform you on whether SEO is a good idea.
- Paid search will quickly give you information. This is keyword performance, not available for organic search anymore but also analytics data. Will people convert on your website? What pages do they like the best? Which pages have a high bounce rate?
But you should be careful of costs. Paid search is increasing in cost all the time so if you’re unlucky enough to be in car insurance or credit cards or other highly competitive industries, you might want to try alternative forms of online advertising such as Facebook/LinkedIn/Bing, etc
Q 3. Are you glad to see the authorship markup gone?
A 3. I think authorship markup was worthwhile and it still confuses me why Google has discontinued the service. I think anything that allows webmasters to add more context to search engines is generally a good thing. But perhaps Google is getting to the point where it doesn’t need to be told these things. Kinda scary if you think about it but we’ll watch and see how it turns out.
Q 4. What updates would you personally like to see in the Search Engine Landscape?
A 4. With the updates over the past couple of years, I have seen a tendency to serve the results of big brands in NZ search results pages in niches where it would make more sense to serve NZ results such as furniture. So ensuring that the SERPs serve NZ results more at a local level would be great.
Also, Google’s My Business seems like the poor cousin of Google services. It’s such a difficult system for the startups and is constantly changing. It drives a lot of startup owners crazy and they don’t like working with it. After the optimisation of your site, many of the small businesses do really well with it but it is relatively complicated to setup. For example, the confirmation or your address takes about a month for verification by snail mail. Bing on the other hand has a system that allows you to verify your business via an email. So, overall, some small improvements like this can be very handy for someone who has just started a new business and has got a limited amount of time.
Q 5. As I mentioned before, a lot of people do not really have a lot of time to do SEO. What would be your top advice for a local startup’s SEO if someone had say 5 hours per week.
A 5. Um, 5 hours is quite a lot! But say you only had one hour, you could still do quite a lot to improve your SEO over time. For a small business owner with limited technical expertise, I would suggest:
- Content on your website. Get writing, provide case studies, review your pages regularly and make sure the content is always up to date. Set yourself up an editorial calendar so every 2-3 months, you review/refresh a particular page. If you’re not such a good writer, try working with a copy writer.
- Never stop building relationships with people, online or offline. Ask people in local business hubs, industry associations, friends, family, suppliers and charities to link to your website. Give them a good reason to link to your website as well. Write a great review of them and donate. Do try to keep the links relevant to your industry though.
- Social media: Not for everyone but there is probably a social media channel out there that suits your business. Just focus on one but make that channel awesome. Spend time on it, connect to people in your industry, comment and discuss. Social media can help you to build a network of advocates and a referral base, help you with your search engine authority and act as a distribution channel for your content.
- Don’t give up. You need to realise that SEO is a long term game but in the long run can pay huge dividends. Keep working at it, a little each week.
Q 6. To wrap up this interview, what advice would you like to give to the startups in general? it can be something I haven’t touched in this interview or a secret mantra that can help them have a head start over their competition.
A 6. In terms of online marketing, the best thing that any business can do is to have an online marketing plan. Something that ties all the elements of your website, content, social media, online advertising and SEO together. There are so many aspects to your online marketing campaign, so many things you can invest time and money into. It’s important that you get the best use of your limited resources and getting an online marketing plan done will really help with this.
I hope you guys find this interview useful. If you have any questions, please drop them in the comment section below.