It’s the time of year when we reflect on our blessings and appreciate the goodness in our lives.
That goes for small business owners, too.
As I sat down to contemplate on all that’s right in the world of small business, it didn’t take me long to come up with 10 big reasons why small business people should be feeling good about the current state of affairs.
Are there are a ton of challenges? Always. But that’s for another time and another post.
So putting that aside for the moment, here are my top 10 reasons why small business owners should be thankful this year.
Each item on my list also includes the name(s) of someone you should get to know (Google+ is the perfect place to find and engage with them) to learn more about each area. If you’re already on Google+, these names are no doubt familiar to you. That doesn’t diminish their importance. It validates and enhances it.
1. Semantic Search
Semantic search refers to the fact that Google search is now able to understand conversational language, is contextual, and has come a long way toward understanding the intent behind a query. It has dramatically changed the way business is done on the web. Search is marketing and vice versa. It has also opened the door for small businesses. Maybe not wide open but more than a crack.
David Amerland’s profound business expertise is deep and far-ranging. He will always be the man when it comes to semantic search.
2. Social Media
Anyone can be active on social media and build a web presence for their business with no out of pocket cost. Notice I didn’t say for “free”, because the cost of your time is always part of the equation. Nevertheless, it does allow a degree of visibility (how much depends on the time invested and the strategic use of that time) that can be significant in your business.
Caveat: As amazing a tool as social media is, it’s also a time sinkhole, so have a plan and stick to it.
3. Web Visibility
Chasing search rankings is probably not your best option as a small business owner. Thankfully, making yourself visible on the web through your social interactions, your content, all your online activities and off, all pointing back to your website, can make people want to search for YOU.
Ammon Johns has a depth of experience in web visibility, including SEO. Although he works with businesses of all sizes, he has a granular understanding of small business and tells it like it is.
4. Personalized Search
Because the majority of people use personalized search, even if they don’t realize it, there is no longer a “first” page of Google any more. That means for people you have connected with, particularly if you are active on Google+ and they have you circled, you will likely show up higher in their search results if their query is related to you and your business.
Mark Traphagen has many areas of expertise in the realm of online marketing. Few people have as keen an understanding of personalized search as Mark.
5. Google+ Hangouts Hangouts have revolutionized the ability of small businesses to connect face to face with prospective clients, current customers, colleagues, and business team members globally.
And Hangouts on Air “broadcast for free” gives even the smallest business the potential to build and grow an audience which will accelerate building relationships along with your authority and trust.
Ronnie Bincer is widely known as the “hangout helper” and has been a leading educator and facilitator in helping others utilize this technology.
Whether or not your audience is on Google+, it is a “must” network to be active on. Why? Besides the obvious answer that Google+ is Google (which, although obvious, is critical to remember), it is a tremendous platform for content discovery and keeping up with current best practices in all aspects of marketing with some of the best minds in the field. Not only that, where else can you engage with and ask questions of, those same thought leaders and actually get a response? The spirit of helpfulness, support, and collaboration on G+ offers an incredible opportunity for small businesses to learn and grow.
Martin Shervington and Stephan Hovnanian know this platform inside and out and have developed successful strategies for businesses to make the most of it, as well as how to extend your reach beyond G+.
Relationships are traditionally what small businesses do best, and thankfully, are back in the forefront. People want to do business with other people. Unless you’re selling a commodity, the relationships and trust you build with others will gain you an audience of people who will think of you when the need arises for your products or services.
Wade Harman is your man for understanding the power of relationships and how they fit into your marketing plan.
Expertise. Authority. Trust. This is Google’s stated focus… what Google is looking for. Among other things, this means quality outranks quantity. This is good news for small businesses who don’t have the capacity to crank out a steady stream of top-notch content. But if you know what you’re about and have a website that reflects that and provides a strong user experience, you’re in the running.
It would be a disservice to say that all this is easy and simple. The principles are easy to understand and the work can be undertaken by anyone willing to do it. But work it is and lots of it. So why should we be grateful for that? Because if it truly was easy, everyone would be doing it, making it that much more difficult to stand out.
Equally important, it’s all this hard work that keeps others from gaming the system.
Marisa Goudy is one who understands the work/life balance. She is equally passionate about her work and her family and manages to find time for both. Her content and her own example will shed light on how to go about achieving this.
All of the above reasons are giving small businesses historic opportunities to be noticed and be found. Is it a level playing field? Absolutely not. But there is the potential to be a player in your niche.
If you have a physical address and can take advantage of Google Local, this provides even more opportunities for your business, especially with the rise of voice search and Google Now. Assuming your site is mobile-friendly and with the help of some reviews, this is another opportunity to move the needle in your favor.
Mike Blumenthal is widely respected for his knowledge of Google Local and is a local search and web consultant. Linda Buquet is a Google My Business specialist and Google top contributor. Both are valuable resources in this area.
I can think of no one who is more positive and upbeat about small business opportunities than Gina Fiedel. She spends her time encouraging and guiding other small business people down a path of creative possibilities.
So, as you gather round the table to give thanks this year, remember that we, as small business people, need to count our blessings, too.
I’d love to hear what you would add to this list!
photo credit: Ray Miller/pixabay