There are two great articles that I need to share. They talk about a point that’s been on my mind a lot lately — the need for small business owners to think of themselves, and to market themselves, as a brand.
I think “brand” is the word I’m using now to encompass a lot of the stuff I’ve been writing about for the past few years.
When you consistently publish great, vital content, you can become a brand.
When you focus relentlessly on building and earning trust in everything you do, you can become a brand.
When you realize that the goal is to improve your bottom line, not to improve your rankings, you can become a brand.
While your competition is worried about building links, you should be thinking about building your brand.
Everett Sizemore wrote a marvelous article this week about how SEO has evolved into a variety of new tasks. This part, in particular, is spot on:
Search used to be where the playing field was level and mom-n-pop shops could get in front of a huge audience just by being a little bit more agile than the big brands that dominate the landscape off of every major interstate highway exit across the country. Though I find it heartbreaking to admit this, those days are over. You need to build a brand. This is the single most important and single most difficult task that has been added to the SEO agenda over the last few years.
That’s really key. I think the small business owners that will have long-term success online are the ones who don’t get bogged down in the details (how many links did I acquire this month, how many new Twitter followers do I have, etc.), but focus on the Big Picture:
- What did I do to earn more trust?
- Did I get mentioned in my local paper? Was I interviewed for a prominent magazine?
- Do customers actually care about my company and what we offer?
- What am I doing to earn attention?
- How am I positioning myself as the expert, the most necessary resource in my industry? In my hometown?
Mitch Joel wrote about brands and social media this week. I think it’s aimed mostly at bigger companies, but this bit about Facebook rings true for me:
Facebook isn’t bad. Facebook is great. But, Facebook is only great to the brands that people care about, and it’s only great when those brands are already connected to their consumers and leverage the Facebook experience to do a whole lot more.
I love that line: Facebook is only great to the brands that people care about.
That’s the kind of thing I’d love to see more small business owners focusing on … and less time worrying about how many new links they got last week. I’m not saying SEO doesn’t matter; it does, but it needs to be done gently.
Google doesn’t care to reward the companies that do the best SEO or build the most links. It wants to reward companies that people care about — the industry authorities and the most locally trusted companies.
Build your brand.
(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)