Is SEO still relevant? Some would argue that search engine traffic is becoming too difficult to target and that the current algorithms have made it harder for small businesses, particularly new small businesses, to rank well. I would argue differently. Search engines are slowly moving away from the traditional signals used to rank web pages and moving more towards the social connections that businesses make. If anything, this should favor small businesses – after all, how many big business CEO’s can you chat with online?
This move towards social media has an important spin-off for small business owners, and customers are going to be the big winners. Service, quality of product, and price are going to be accidental SEO signals. Why? Businesses of all sizes will need to foster good customer relations if they want those same customers to talk about them in social media. If a customer makes a recommendation to a friend, they are putting their own reputation on the line – if they recommend a product that is of poor quality, is over priced, or comes with poor customer service, then their friends are hardly going to trust them the next time they make a recommendation.
Small businesses have a reputation for generally offering better service compared to their bigger rivals. Price is always a touchy subject, with small business finding it difficult to compete – especially when it comes to similar products. Studies have shown that customers are prepared to pay a little more if the product is of good quality, and if there is a superior service. In most cases, small business owners are hands on and well placed to react to issues. They are also in a position to respond personally to any issues.
If small businesses do a better job of fostering good customer vibes, especially on a local level, they are going to receive more mentions and see more social media attention. This will, over time, be reflected in better search rankings as social media indicators are given a higher value by search engines. Are you fostering good customer vibes? At the same time, are you making it easy for your customers to leave reviews, and to spread those positive vibes through their social media activities?