The SEO industry is moving at 1 million miles an hour and with Google's updates sometimes it's hard to know what's worth focusing on and what's not.
One thing is still certain: Google's market share in the United States is still upwards of 65%. Compare that to about 15% each for Bing and Yahoo, and where do you want your website to rank?
It's also sobering to realize that recent studies have shown 92% of searchers do not go past Page 1 of the search results pages (SERPs). Being on Page 2, or lower, means that you will get very little traffic to your website from searches because your site will not be visible.
Certainly there are other ways you can get traffic to your website. Word of mouth, having your URL on your business cards, and people using bookmarks to return to sites where they've already been, were once the biggest games in town. No longer! But having a link to your site from a respected directory website in your industry, on a blog post you have guest written, or on a press release or other news article are currently great ways to get traffic to your site. Still, the biggest source of your traffic is going to be via search.
So making sure your website ranks on the first page of Google is crucial. Have you checked recently? Do you know where your site is ranking? At the very least, be sure you are ranking for your business name. Next, you want to be ranking for the keywords that describe what you do, plus your city. If you're not yet there, widen the phrase (add words to the phrase, making it “long tail”). Once you are ranking for some long tail keywords, you can then start narrowing your focus.
Know your competition. With Google ranking, longevity is important. So if you are a new business, it will probably be hard to compete against websites that have been around since 1996. (Unless they haven't done any SEO work…) But tough competition doesn't mean impossible Yoda! It just means that you need to think outside of the proverbial box.
I often think of a case study I read about involving a company selling baby furniture. They were trying to rank their website, but it seemed that all of their traffic was coming from young parents who had already purchased their cribs, etc. Someone had a brainstorm and they added a section to the site on baby names, then drove traffic to that page. Brilliant! The company recognized that their target market – expectant first-time parents – are very interested in baby names. So by providing that information, with great suggestive ads in the sidebar, they were able to significantly increase their business.
That's the type of thinking that tough competition needs to engender. If you can't get your website ranked head on, think about how can you make an end run and score.
Google ranking continues to change, but we all need to be on Page 1 if we want to succeed!