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Do Small Businesses Need A Website?
Attaining a much-coveted spot on the Google 7-pack can be tough, especially for competitive keywords and in major cities. Business owners are advised to build an effective website and optimize it as one of the crucial factors in obtaining a better ranking. The common assumption today is that without a website, most businesses will have lower online visibility.
This is a story about a small business practitioner who made it to the Google pack – without a website – in a competitive category in Manhattan. As a starting out cardiologist working in a New York City clinic, she depends greatly upon her Internet listings to get her name publicized and bring in new patients.
I met with her husband a couple weeks ago in New York, and while showing him our new SEO reach score for businesses in Florida, he told me about how he improved his wife’s SEO on his own. He helped her claim her listings on search engines, update her listings on directory sites, incorporate her category (cardiologist) in her business listing titles, and added her to Zocdoc, an online appointment site like OpenTable but for doctors. All of the steps he took are common recommendations for obtaining a better online ranking.
So, to recap – they didn’t spend a dollar on SEO, an advertising campaign or even a website. Yet lo and behold, she made it to the top of the Google pack (see below). This is quite an accomplishment, especially for a category such as ‘cardiologist’ and a location as New York City.
Now it’s true that if you’re not going to hire an SEO company or other professional to assist you, you have to know what to do. This cardiologist happened to have a knowledgeable husband who could help her, but this information is available on the Internet for every business owner to take advantage of.
A good place to start is David Mihm’s 2010 Local Search Ranking Factors report. The report found that the number one most important factor in one’s online visibility is “Claiming Place Page/Local Listing”. It’s so simple, costs nothing, and yet so many business owners fail to do it.
The report found over 50 variables that influence your ranking. This New York City cardiologist only covered a few of the top 10 factors, yet that seemed to be enough to get her to the Google pack.
So to return to my original question, the answer is probably yes. But as this anecdote shows us, if you do your homework and take some initiative, you can get quite far on the Internet – even without a website.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.