6 Things That Will Help with Search and 5 You Should Never Do

12 Oct 6 Things That Will Help with Search and 5 You Should Never Do


The very mention of the word is enough to strike terror in the hearts of many small business owners. Most people understand the basic need for content on social media posts, on their websites, in blogs and brochures. However, most don’t have a clue as to where good content comes from or even what “good” is.

After all, your local dentist, roofer or Realtor probably did not start a business with aspirations to write the great American novel or entertain the masses. They set out to do something they were good at, make a living for their families and perhaps do some good in the process.

Unless the local business owner is very young, today’s world is mightily different from when they started in business. As recently as 21 years ago, in 1995, 1% of households had internet connections. Today most have the internet in the palm of their hand.

The Pew Research Center estimates that 98% of Americans have access to the internet in some form. That same study found 84% of Americans use the internet, which of course means 16% of us choose not to use it even though we could.

What Happens When You Break a Tooth Away from Home?

I moved to Charleston a few months ago after living for more than 30 years in Chicago. As is the case whenever your uproot your life, I had to round up a new support system of doctors, dentists and other services such as a dry cleaner, farmers market and a good wine store. You know, the essentials.

So when I broke a tooth, I asked friends and colleagues to recommend a dentist. Naturally everyone had a different idea of who was the best dentist I should use, which was of course the dentist they use. But I wanted the dentist who knew what they are doing, would cause me no pain, cost next to nothing, had great reviews and was nearby.

As you likely have guessed, I asked “the Google.” I searched online for reviews, ratings and then spent time on the dentists’ websites. I ended up going to one of the dentists recommended to me by a colleague, but not before I did my research. My guess is this is how almost anyone selects a service today.

That’s why search – and the content that drives search –  is SO important to not just small businesses, but all businesses. You can’t sell something until you enter somebody’s mind.

Content and Search

There is a myth that nobody knows what the Google algorithm wants. While it is true that the algorithm changes regularly so that businesses cannot game the system, it is quite clear that Google and its highly secretive algorithm prize content that is:

  • Original
  • Local
  • Useful
  • Authentic/truthful
  • Helpful
  • Entertaining

… not necessarily in that order. In short, Google rewards content that is desirable to searchers that willingly interact with it because it is what they were seeking, or at least in the ballpark.

Exceptionally smart people write the code that makes Google (and Bing) a useful tool for the rest of us. However, there is no rocket science to creating content the search engines will reward. This despite the horde of SEO “experts” who will tell you otherwise for their personal gain.

Good content gets rewarded. Never post false, deceptive, boring, repetitive, iterative content. It’s guaranteed to place you on the umpteenth pages of search. It is that simple.

What’s a Business Owner to Do?

Most websites are awful.

Much of what is posted on social media is insipid.

Little of what appears digitally is truly local.

Most local websites are awful because they have little content that is relevant to someone trying to make an informed buying decision about the product or service being offered. What little content there is generally is dry, stock information supplied by the vendor of the product being sold. For example, information about the energy efficiency of a furnace or air conditioning unit supplied by a manufacturer like Lennox or York. While better than nothing, by definition this content is not local or original. Rather it appears on similar websites throughout the country.

The only choice for local businesses to stand out is to be themselves, be authentic. While manufacturer information should be part of the website, the star of the site should be the unique selling proposition of the business itself. What makes ABC Heating and Cooling unique?

The good news is this is not as hard to do as it may seem. Every business and every business owner has a story, and has a reason for being in the business in the first place. Those stories are inevitably interesting in the hands of a skilled storyteller.

Content That Works would argue that local native advertising can help with this process by sussing out the interesting and useful information readers might seek out. One of the great values of native advertising to a local business is the professionally written outside view of the business.

As important, small businesses can slice and dice this content for social media, blogs and other purposes. This actually can help turn social media into a content creation engine for the business by inviting followers to post comments and share their experiences. These comments then can be reposted on social media and on the business’ website.

Comments, testimonials and personal experiences shared by customers and followers are by definition original, local and hopefully truthful. They also can be quite helpful and entertaining to potential and repeat customers.

Most business owners are in the deep weeds of the details of their businesses. They are too close to their businesses to really know what might be helpful to prospects before they become customers. Most business owners are too busy to produce large quantities of fresh, interesting content. And most business owners do not know how to tell a great story.

They need help. And who better to help them than your media company – the company that has been telling the stories of your community for decades?

“People don’t want to be sold, they want to be inspired,” says Beth Comstock, Marketing and Innovation Leader at GE. You can see a few other things she says here:


Any tips you have to do or not do for search? Enjoyed this post be sure to subscribe to our blog! We would love to hear from you in the comments below!