Crystal Ball by Christian Schnettelker CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Last month, I published an article on LinkedIn asking, Is Google Squashing Small Business Growth?

The premise being that as the impact of internet technology accelerates, we’re reaching a tipping point in SERPS (search engine results) that is actually un-leveling the playing field for many small businesses.

Between the Penguins, Mobilegeddons, rise of Content, and an onslaught of other Google algorithm changes, it is becoming increasingly difficult for small business owners to keep up.

As you can imagine it generated a bit of buzz and sparked some interesting conversation.

The key take-away?

Small businesses – especially new small businesses – need to stop chasing Google.


It’s true that for many years the internet helped smaller businesses compete, side-by-side, with their larger competitors.

But as one commenter so perfectly points out, “The golden era of the internet as a catalyst for small business is long gone.” At least where organic search results are concerned.

If your business has a physical location, there are still big benefits to focusing on local SEO (the Local Search Association is a great resource to check out). But what about those businesses without a storefront? Those with an e-commerce site, or work virtually from home?

What does this all mean for you?

It means no longer following the fold and scrambling to keep up with every algorithm change Google puts out. It means capitalize on your strengths as a small business and be creative in your approach.

It means do what makes the most sense for your business.

Pay Attention to What is Happening in the World of SEO: A Few of Google’s Recent Changes


  • Mobilegeddon: If you’re site isn’t mobile friendly, take a look at your analytics to determine what percentage of your traffic is coming from mobile. If it’s a decent amount, consider updating your website. Check out this great guide on Surviving the Google Mobile-Friendly Update .
  • App Indexing: If you’ve been considering developing an app for your business, now may be the time. Google is now indexing apps in search.
  • The Rise of Content: If you have useful information to provide and are rocking a blog, infographics or other content – keep it up. Just don’t do it for the sole purpose of showing up in SERPs. There is a lot of content completion today. So make sure you are writing for your audience and not for Google.

Make a Search Engine Optimization Plan


  • It is still a good idea to follow best practices when it comes to on-page SEO (those elements you control on your website). Optimize your site for keywords and Meta tags, especially your company name. If someone is searching for your business, you want to make sure they can find you!
  • If your current SEO efforts are working, great! If, however, you’ve been focusing a great deal of time on SEO, and not seeing the results, it’s time to rethink your strategy.
  • Don’t “set it and forget it”. Track your data and revisit your plan often to make appropriate adjustments.

Find Ways to Grow Your Business Without Google


  • There are a lot of places online prospects seek out information without relying on a search engine. Do some digging to find out where your customers are online. And participate in those groups. Build a presence in places like LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, or Google+.
  • Get offline. Network. Meet people. Speak at events. Participate in tradeshows. Utilize local advertising opportunities (direct mail, radio, etc.) There was a wide array of promotional tools before the internet. And they are still used today.
  • Stay “top-of-mind”. Referrals are the best way to get new customers and clients. And happy customers make the best referrals. Not communicating with those you have done business with in the past is a missed opportunity. So start a newsletter, connect on LinkedIn, post on social media.

Most Importantly, Play on Your Strengths as a Small Business


I asked Rand Fishkin, founder and former CEO of Moz, co-author of a pair of books on SEO, and co-founder of Inbound.org, what his advice would be to small and new businesses in navigating SEO.

He agreed, “…there’s a lot more challenge today than in the past and I think there will be even more in the future.” But, pointed out small businesses have an advantage. “…small and new businesses are more nimble, creative, and willing to try ideas that big/established folks would never touch. I think for the best and brightest out there, that advantage will continue to be enough.”

The bigger the business, the harder it is to change course.

So try new things. Get creative. Be agile and ready to change course. Pay attention to SEO. But remember it’s not worth neglecting your business, your customers, or missing opportunities to try and get on the first page of SERPs.

How is your business adapting to the new SEO landscape? 

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