FacebooklikesWhether you love or loathe Facebook, there’s no denying the site is a powerful marketing tool for small businesses. Need proof? Consider a recent milestone when Facebook hit 15 million SMB pages, a 2 million page increase since the end of 2012.

Small business owners aren’t just tapping into Facebook’s page functionality—they’re also driving increases in tools like the Pages Manager app, which has seen a 3 million user increase in the last three months. And in a presentation at Borrell Associates’ Local Online Advertising conference, Facebook Director of Small Business Dan Levy said 500,000 pages are now using Facebook’s promoted posts feature, up from 300,000 pages at the end of 2012.

Yet these impressive stats don’t mean everything’s rosy between small businesses and Facebook. Although more and more businesses opt to create Facebook pages, not everyone uses them on a regular basis—in fact, 70% of Facebook brand pages remain inactive, a not-so-surprising stat that points to an ongoing struggle for businesses and brands to maintain any real engagement on their pages.

Levy addressed this scenario in his presentation by hinting that Facebook is working on more self-serve tools designed specifically for SMBs to enhance their Facebook presence and get more out of the site. Although we’re curious to see what he’s talking about (and we love a good tool), the cold, hard truth is that tools aren’t a fix for low engagement. You can’t automate a Facebook presence, let alone any other social networking profile—and you can’t buy loyal, dedicated fans who will help your business thrive. That doesn’t mean there won’t be people out there trying to sell you those “sure fire, guaranteed” tools and solutions, but if you expect them to work, you’re part of the problem. Tricks and tools can help you be more effective when it comes to your social media marketing, but they’re not a be-all, end-all solution.

And the skeptics among us wonder how much of Facebook’s new self-serve tools for SMBs are yet another tactic on the part of Facebook to ratchet up their revenue. In fact, it’s a pretty safe bet there’s more interest on the part of Facebook in generating greater income from SMBs than there is for solving their problems using Facebook as a part of their integrated marketing strategy. Doesn’t it only make sense?

That being said, we very much realize that small business owners are incredibly tight on time—and for a lot of them, maintaining a Facebook page isn’t at the top of their to-do lists. But for many businesses, effectively integrating the use of Facebook into their online marketing efforts can pay off if done correctly. So, if Facebook is going to focus on improving the SMB experience and provide some tools that might make Facebook more effective for small business owners, we’re certainly interested in seeing what they come up with.

What do you think? What do you see as being the greatest need for SMBs when it comes to social media marketing in general, and Facebook in particular? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Image: cambodia4kidsorg via Compfight cc


Businesses, and even consultants, often do more damage than good when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). Google’s search algorithm is constantly evolving and getting better at what I call “SEO detection” — the ability to detect artificial backlinks and attempts to manipulate your website to rank better.

In a lot of ways, what worked a decade ago for SEO still applies today. But intentional SEO — such as over optimizing your website, too many backlinks with keyword anchor text, lack of diversified backlinks and other tactics — can actually get you in trouble with the search engines. Google can distinguish, for the most part, what’s natural and what’s not.

One thing to remember is that Google likes sites and content that other people enjoy, find useful and share with others. When was the last time you shared a site that felt like spam or had little content on it?

Here are four tips that can help improve your website’s SEO, without doing any SEO:

Related: The Basics of Using Keywords for Better SEO (Video)

1. Create killer content. Just because you offer a service or are an expert in a particular industry doesn’t mean your website deserves to rank on the first page for your particular set of keywords. What ranks is quality content and resources that people find useful and want to share.

As a business owner, your time and money is best spent on generating original, useful content for your site. Try to post a new piece at least once a week, if not three times a week. Google loves fresh, original content.

2. Include your keywords in your articles and titles. Let’s say you’re a manufacturer of solar panels and one of your keyword phrases is “solar panel manufacturer.” You’d want to write an article on what to look for when seeking a solar panel manufacturer, and work that phrase into the headline. This isn’t SEO rocket science. It’s about properly labeling your online content.

Related: 5 Tips for Making Your Website More Social

3. Incorporate social media share buttons on your site. Increasingly, social signals are being taken into account by search algorithms. Why? Because people share content that’s worthwhile. Having social media buttons allows your online visitors to share your website and its content.

You’ll also want to incentivize people to share. Host a contest or product giveaway to get people tweeting and sharing your website URL.

4. Offer expert advice on other websites. Most blogs, magazines and news sites welcome content submissions. Offer to contribute an article or post explaining something related to what you do. These sites often receive a lot of submissions, so make sure that yours is authentic and informational.

Not only can contributing to other sites help generate awareness about your brand, it’s an effective way to getting high quality, non-spammy links back to your site. If you do it right and people like what you write, this can help establish you as an industry expert as well.