Knowing whether to build a templated website or an SEO-enabled templated website for your small business - Part 2 of 2

April 02, 2021

By:  John Tomblin, Senior Solutions Architect
Bakersfield Bizz, a division of Sofvue, LLC

This is part 2 of the original article "Knowing whether to build a templated website or an SEO-enabled templated website for your small business - Part 1". If you haven't done so already, you will want to read that article first.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Consider where you are as you read this article. Maybe you are at your desk in the office, or maybe on your phone at the car wash, but wherever that is, there is a 99% chance you are on Bakersfield Bizz as you read this content. How do I know that? Because it is part of Bakersfield Bizz's overall SEO strategy implemented by our marketing team, a plan originally initiated in June of 2020, and since you are reading the article, our SEO program just worked.

SEO can be many things, and for our pretend appraisal company, I am going to have the marketing team do the following:

1) Identify all the most used searched keywords related to appraisal services that people use to find us.
2) Run various reports to determine where the site ranks now… and based on this information, determine how much time will be required to rank on page one or two.
3) Create a "keyword" campaign to boost our ranking position on the major search engines.
4) Create a content strategy including articles, guest posts, and video blog content.
5) Perform the actual SEO work of:

a. Modifying meta tags so search engines can more easily locate the site.
b. Create the needed backlinks to other sites.
c. Create the analytics and reporting needed to ensure that the SEO team knows what is working and what is not.
d. Complete the list of "optimization" efforts required so the site can be "crawled" by the major search engines, and slowly increase ranking into a prominent placement on the web.

SEO is not for the impatient. If you have a campaign involving 10 or 20 keywords, some keywords might begin showing results in just the first 6-8 weeks, but more often than not, the more demand a keyword has, the longer it takes to rank on page 1 of Google, Bing, Ask, and DuckDuckGo, typically 3-6 months.

For Bakersfield Bizz, we use a three-pronged approach to marketing. This includes (a) offering the website itself in a responsive output format so everyone has the same basic user experience (UX), regardless of the type of screen they use to read our content, (b) implementing an SEO and Content Marketing Optimization (CMO) strategy, as well as a Local Search plan to ensure that small businesses can locate the website through any number of local outlets and resources.

For our fictitious appraisal company, we must also decide whether to implement a Content Marketing Optimization (CMO) strategy. Assuming the answer is yes, the following steps should also be taken.

1) Begin a drip-content campaign of writing and publishing relevant articles about the appraisal process. These articles (aka blog content) should be published every 2-3 weeks, each focused on a specific aspect of the appraisal process. You might have one article on the Principle of Increasing and diminishing returns, and a few weeks later, an article on economic obsolescence. This is content marketing at its best because it demonstrates the appraisal firm's expertise in their field while simultaneously showing the search engines that the content is "valuable".

2) Next, you want to locate a few experts in ancillary fields who can offer their expertise on the topic. In Bakersfield, this might include a local commercial brokerage firm that can talk about whether prices are rising or falling, and why. When published, you can provide a "backlink" to their website, and they to yours. Search engines crawl these backlinks, and the more backlinks your site has, the higher your site will rank.

3) In addition to articles and backlinks, your content marketing optimization campaign must also include social media content distribution. These include maintaining accounts on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and for B2b companies, LinkedIn. For our imaginary appraisal firm, we are going to focus only on YouTube and LinkedIn, and we are going to skip Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. (More on this topic in a moment). For YouTube, our appraisal firm is going to create and publish one video per week on a specific subject. One week might be about a difficult appraisal while the next week might be about rents and how to calculate a Gross Rent Multiplier (GRM). All of this content, whether in the form of articles or videos, plays a key role in improving and promoting your site to climb the search engine ladder.

As mentioned above, for many B2b companies, you have to make smart decisions on where your time and money are going to be invested. A lot of small companies believe they need a presence on all the major social media platforms, but that is simply not true. Also, there are simply too many platforms. Everyone knows about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, but there are many others such as MeWe, Tumblr, Reddit, NextDoor, Goodreads, and Medium, to name a few. There is even a social media platform dedicated exclusively to people who like knitting, weaving, and crocheting, so if your company is selling computer parts, Ravelry is just an unwise decision.

Long-established companies already know this because they know where their leads come from. If your company's core business is retail, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram are must-haves. You need to be posting content daily and steadily on the happenings within your company and the products and services offered. Based on my experience as a solutions architect and considering all the projects I have completed in the past twenty years, Facebook and YouTube are the strongest social media outlets for retail, but for B2b, you need to be investing 90% of your efforts in YouTube and LinkedIn, and if you believe you need a presence on the other social media sites, then spend 10% of your time on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. 99% of Bakersfield Bizz's businesses are B2b, and the general rule of thumb is that they yield zero returns with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but if you want a presence, make it a small one.

As you can see, deciding to spruce up your company website is more involved than just creating or updating a site. You have to answer some key questions. If your goal is to have a templated website where you can send customers and prospects to get more information, great! A complex, holistic approach is not needed, but if you truly want people to search and locate your website based on a keyword search, then the question is not whether you want to build a new website… the question is whether your new website requires an SEO plan, a Content Marketing plan, or both, and how you will implement a strategy to make it happen.

The advent of website development tools like Wordpress, Oncord, Joomla, Weebly, and Wix, has been a boon to the small business marketplace, and it allows many small businesses to establish and create a web presence quickly with a very limited budget or technical strength, but whether you are a six-week-old start-up or a sixty-year-old established enterprise, you need to clearly define the goals of your site project before jumping in and creating what might be a long term mistake.

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