When you have a small business client that comes to you for SEO help, of course there are a lot of ways that you can help them — but in general, the biggest choice facing any such client in the choice between local internet marketing and a more generic, broad-spectrum form of SEO.
Generalized SEO for Small Businesses
When you decide to go generalized, you’re essentially making a decision to shoot for first-place rankings on third-class keywords. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; for the right small businesses it’s absolutely the right way to go.
The reason you have to hit up the third-tier keywords is competition. When you’re competing with every website in the world, you’re not going to get them ranked for something really high-traffic like “ice cream cakes” or “used video games”. You’re probably not going to get them ranked for secondary keywords like “organic ice cream cakes” or “used Game Boy Advance”. There are huge corporations targeting keywords like that, and getting a small business to compete on that level is almost universally out of the question just for budgetary reasons.
Depending on the business, you can actually make a good profit off of third-tier, long-tail keywords like “how to make a killer organic ice cream cake” or “Game Boy Advance with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Japanese Bundle” — that’s the bread and butter of this kind of small business SEO. If it’s a dropship business, for example, or if they are otherwise accustomed to sending their product to the far corners of the globe, you really do want to go general because those occasional orders from Kampuchea or Vladivostok are actually valuable.
Local Internet Marketing
On the other hand, for 99% of small business clients, local internet marketing is the correct decision. The reason why is simple: “organic ice cream cakes Lacey WA” is already a long-tail keyword. There’s almost no competition for it — and yet, the vast majority of the business’ customers live in and visit from Lacey, WA. When you’re top-ranked for the only people who actually matter, who cares how many pings you get from the tail end of Russia?