Member Tip Monday: How Do I Improve My Organic Search Listing As A Small Business?

Search engine optimization is like weather forecasting without models and data. You open up your window and look around. You make plans and try things and look for patterns.

There are people who are happy to give you tips, and there are best practices, but ultimately it’s something that’s always evolving as algorithms are anything but constant. However, optimizing your content and site to place well is essential to minimizing your marketing spend on getting found. Here are a few tips to make your small business competitive on a local level.

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Is It Harder for Small Businesses to Place Organically?

Google’s algorithm is aimed at showcasing “valuable” sites first. Since Google is not an expert in every field it looks for indicators of a quality site. These things include:

  • Decent load times (no one wants to wait even 2 minutes for content to load)
  • mobile friendly (according to Google, 82% of smart phone users use their device to find local businesses)
  • good content (as evidenced by shares, interactions, and links)
  • good outbound links (your site is not an island. Google expects you to link out to quality websites as well)

In non-organic search, large businesses have a distinct advantage over small businesses – money. From an organic listing standpoint, that advantage dwindles. What they do have over small are exposure and notoriety. People often think first of larger businesses and may share their content more readily because it comes to mind first.

Luckily, the advantage ends there. A small business can produce content that gets recognized and shared with the same ease (or difficulty, as the case may be) as a larger company. Yes, a larger company may have a larger audience and larger staff, but creating blog content and sharing it on social media requires the same effort from both groups.

Improving Local Search

The first thing you want to concentrate on if you have a physical business location is building out your business profile on Google and other directories. Ensuring you’re listed in local search is free and doesn’t require anything more than your time.

At a minimum, claim and build out your business listing on

When you visit these directories you may find your business is already listed. Verify the details and claim it, if applicable. Be sure to fill in anything that isn’t complete, including your business hours. Information from these sites feeds local search so don’t leave fields incomplete.

Next, check out other listings such as your local chamber, YellowPages, SuperPages, and industry-specific business listings such as TripAdvisor (if you offer food, entertainment, or lodging).

Here’s where things get a little tricky. There are data aggregators that pull information about businesses and feed them to other large companies (TripAdvisor included in that). Look at your business listing. Is the information about your business correct? If not, it can be cumbersome to change. Even if you go directly to TripAdvisor for instance, they may change it on their site, but that doesn’t fix a hundred others. In this case, Moz offers a yearly service where they will push out corrected information for you to the four main aggregators of business data.

Improve and Seek Out Reviews

There have been books written on this topic on how to create a referral mindset among your customers. But simply put, you need to make sure you focus on delighting your customers and making it easy for them to tell others about you. You must also ask them to do it. There’s a lot more detail in the implementation of these ideas but that’s how you’ll improve reviews on the most basic level.

Take the time to respond to reviews, good and bad. The good ones make you shine and the bad ones give you the opportunity to improve your offerings.

Think About SEO When Creating Content

You are writing for two distinct groups – search engines and people. People need good quality content (from their perspective) that addresses issues they care about, gives them the information they need, and entertains them. The content needn’t do all three at the same time but it should do one.

From an SEO perspective, you want your content to give your audience what they want because they’ll be more likely to share if you do. You also want to do everything you can to personalize it to your industry and local audience. Have you ever read a novel that is so rich in the setting and life it describes, that you feel like you’ve been there? On the other hand, have you read something that was so flat, that you didn’t even recognize it as a place you’ve been many times?

Place can be a character and you want people reading your website content to have a sense of the place you service. You can do this by mentioning surrounding areas, local events, and using insider language in your copy. These little things help customers identify with your site and tell Google that you are a local industry authority. You’re not a bot or a keyword stuffer.

A Final Word About Placing Well in Local Search

Finally, be smart about the keywords you want to rank for. There are some that are impossible. For instance, if you’re a local travel agency, ranking for “travel” will be Herculean task mainly because the first page is dominated by heavy hitters like Travelocity, Expedia, and CNN. Instead, focus on being a big fish in a small pond. Look to optimize your content by answering questions your ideal customer wants to know (or things they’d key into search, like the title of this article). Look for local opportunities like “best travel deals to Orlando from <your town>.” It’s a mouthful, but creating copy around long-tail keywords will help you achieve better local placement for free.


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

*Post seen on Montgomery Chamber of Commerce website.

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Here’s What You Missed: New Overtime Pay Rule


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Last week Wednesday, Attorney Dan Strader of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick packed The Chamber Boardroom with members ready to learn about the new overtime pay rules taking effect December 1st.

A little history on FLSA

FLSA was enacted in 1938 providing federal minimum wage, 40-hour workweek, and pay at time-and-a-half for overtime hours. The law created several exemptions including “white collar” exemptions for Executive (e.g. Supervisory, Management), Administrative (e.g. HR Professionals, Insurance Adjusters), and Professional (e.g. Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants). In order to fall within one of the exemptions, an employee must meet the two-part test: Duties Test and Salary Basis. If an employee does not meet any of these exemptions (“non-exempt”), they must be paid for all hours worked plus overtime for any hours over 40 in a work week.

IMG_0887.JPGNew Overtime Regulations Timeline

On March 13, 2014, President Obama directed the Department of Labor (DOL) to update overtime regulations which would create the first salary increase since 2004. On July 6, 2015, the DOL issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and on May 18, 2016 the final rules were released with a December 1, 2016 effective date.

What’s in the new rules?

The new regulations doubled the minimum salary (Salary Bas
is) for exempt employees to  $47,476 annually (or $913 per week).  This means that any employees classified as exempt must meet this minimum salary requirement, in addition to the Duties Test, to continue in an exempt capacity.  The new regulations also provide for automatic annual adjustment of exempt salary levels. The Duties Test did not change.

So what’s your game plan?

  • Provide notice to management/ownership of issue
  • Analyze your workforce and identify who will be affected
  • Begin tracking hours of exempt employees at issue
  • Begin tracking outside/electronic device hours of exempt employees at issue
  • Consider alternatives
  • Development employee messaging

For additional information, please visit the Department of Labor website.

Information in this post on the new regulations effecting FLSA comes from Daniel R. Strader, Attorney of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP who presented to The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce at a Chamber University program on Thursday, August 4, 2016.

For any questions regarding the information, please contact dstrader@slk-law.com, (941) 366-6660. Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick LLP: www.slk-law.com

Make the Most of Your Tradeshow: Part One

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Allison Imre, iHeartMedia Sarasota

At a recent Shumaker Chamber University, Allison Imre presented valuable information on trade shows at “Make the Most of Your Tradeshow.” Imre is the Senior Account Manager of iHeartMedia Sarasota. With 245 million monthly listeners in the U.S., iHeartMedia has the largest reach of any radio or television outlet in America. The company owns and operates 858 broadcast radio stations, serving more than 150 markets throughout the U.S.

Imre is no stranger to trade shows. Her experience with trade shows started at her previous position with the Kansas City Royals and has expanded since she joined iHeartMedia Sarasota.

If you’re like Imre, you’ve been to your fair share of trade shows. In fact, everyone in our audience raised their hands when asked if they’ve attended one before. And their experiences were mixed. For some, the trade show wasn’t worth their time or investment and for others there was success in meeting new people, closing deals and setting appointments. By opening the trade show conversation, Imre offered some of the best tools, tips and tricks to use when attending or exhibiting at a trade show.

With The Chamber’s End of the Summer Bash Prime Time exhibit quickly approaching, let’s start with what we learned to do as a trade show attendee.

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Photo courtesy of Jake Bibler of Mavella Photography.

Continue reading “Make the Most of Your Tradeshow: Part One”