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SEM Success In 10 Minutes A Day

Carrie Hill
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I never seem to have enough time. Just last week, I was busy getting ready for SES San Jose while also planning my soon-to-be 7-year-old's birthday party, and putting together a barbecue for about 20 people on Saturday night before leaving for San Jose early Sunday morning. I beg, borrow, and steal to find time.

As small business owners, we must always prioritize our goals and tasks. Here are 10 tasks you can complete in about 10 minutes or less that can deliver results worth many times that level of effort.

1. Update Your Keyword Research

Keyword trends change with the season, the economy, and any number of other outside factors. Spend a few minutes looking at the keywords you're currently targeting, and then go find something new and shiny to focus a new page of content on.

2. Re-Optimize Your Homepage

Look at your keyword research and make sure the target term on your home page is the best term for your site. Home pages are more powerful than interior pages, so don't be afraid to choose a competitive term with lots of searches if your whole site can support it.

3. Login and Claim/Update Your Google Maps Listing

This can take more than 10 minutes, if you really want to dig in, but you can get started on it in the first 10 minutes, and come back to it later. Doing something with it is obviously better than doing nothing, and by claiming and verifying the listing, you're giving Google the indicators they need to start seeing you as a competitor in your local market.

4. Rewrite a Poorly-Performing PPC Ad

Do you have an ad in your PPC campaign that has a pretty low click-through rate (CTR)? Try rewriting the ad to better focus on giving the user the experience they're searching for. Read-up on features like dynamic keyword insertion and match type and try something new. Be careful to monitor paid ad changes, because even a small change can cost you a lot of money. Skip this one if you don't have time to stay on top of the effects of your change.

5. Submit Your Site to Best of the Web

This is a great directory that drives very nice traffic and a good link in some cases. You can also test out the new BOTW local directory, which can be submitted to for free, although I recommend the premium listing that's on sale right now for $5 per month.

6. Update a Page

Have your rates or prices changed? Maybe your site special is from last month? Take 10 minutes to update that content and give your users something they're looking for.

7. Place Your Address and Phone Number on Every Page

Local search is location-based. That sounds obvious, but many people forget that if their brick-and-mortar business relies on people showing up at your door, they need to tell the local search engines where they are. Putting your address and phone number on every page can help improve your rankings in location-based searches.

8. Update Your Sitemap

All controversy around PageRank siloing or sculpting aside, it's a good idea to have a sitemap -- no matter what your philosophy is. Most importantly, keep it updated! Figure out which new pages you need to add. Also, consider writing a sentence or two around each link to lend non-linking text relevance to your links -- if you're PR sculpting, that is.

9. Start Twittering

All the world's a-Twitter -- are you cashing in? There have been some great reads on how Twitter can help small businesses. Check them out and see if you can leverage it for something fun and interesting to drive traffic to your site.

10. Add Some Awesome New Feeds to Your Feed Reader

The best way to learn or stimulate experimentation in SEM is to read. Use your feed reader to your advantage. Instead of visiting 20 blogs a day and seeing what's up -- use your reader to review the feeds and headlines from those 20 blogs and just read the ones that interest you. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Little Biz -- OK, yes that's this one -- but one post every few weeks isn't too much to ask, is it?
  • SearchEngineGuide -- This blog adds content multiple times a day and covers topics from the basics of optimization all the way through to social media.
  • Small Business SEM -- Matt McGee is one of my favorites, and he really knows how to break things down for the smallest of businesses. He posts less often, but every piece is a gem.

Ten minutes isn't that much time -- in an eight-hour workday it's about 2 percent of your day. Tackle one 10-minute task a day and you're going to see results. Maybe you'll move from the second page in the SERPs to the first page -- maybe you'll start showing up in the Google 10-box. Take tiny steps to effect big changes for your small business Web site.


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