SEO in boom town: Austin, Texas.

Some years ago the local people of Austin, Austinites, adopted the slogan 'Keep Austin Weird'. The phrase was coined following the influx of Fortune 500 giants like Apple, Google and eBay. Austinites naturally had concerns about their city's rapid development and over commercialisation, they felt that with large corporations come large high street chains which would out compete local business.
In 2015 Forbes ranked Austin the second fastest growing city in America and the number one boom town. So, the premonition actualised, and weird threatens to become mainstream or obsolete. When competing with local neighbouring businesses is enough, how do the small, the unique and the eccentric, or the time-honoured and traditional, compete, survive and thrive in a boom town dominated by hungry corporations?

Follow (the) suit(s): get SEO savvy.

The fine people and business owners of Austin are no strangers to technology. In fact, the Neilson Company revealed that Austinites blog more than any other metropolitan area in the country. There are dedicated foodies reviewing the city's abundance of fine restaurants. Others are passionate about its long-standing connection with the film industry and, of course, what Austin built its reputation on, being 'The Live Music Capital of the World'. Besides the hundreds of music venues, dozens of cafes, restaurants and hotels competing for a slice of the tourist pie, the Colorado river and the many parks also provide the perfect setting for a plethora of family activities. With so many businesses operating out of one place, online visibility is vital. It's boom or bust. Even with an army of bloggers, not every business is going to show at the top of the search engine result pages (SERP's); it seems to be the big boys who claim the top spots - they have teams dedicated to SEO. But with a little guidance from someone such as a SEO Consultant and SEO agencies who knows the industry, there's a few tricks to get a good search ranking without needing an entire dedicated team.

Keeping up with a panda, a penguin and a hummingbird helps.

Google periodically updates its algorithms. Panda, penguin and hummingbird are all names of different algorithms. They deal with things like backlinks, search queries and keywords. They also have the authority to penalise any business website or blog which doesn't adhere to the ever-changing rules. A digital marketing strategy that worked a dream one month might not work the next. Running a business is one thing, competing with neighbouring businesses is another, competing online and following the rules is another thing altogether. And if any music venue, cafe or restaurant owner has no idea that a panda, a penguin and a hummingbird are all Google algorithms, then they should start learning, or ask someone who does. Besides, in a place filled with high-tech people, finding a savvy someone in Austin who knows what's going on in their own back yard shouldn't be too difficult.

Going it alone: the many hats of an Austinite business owner.

Indeed, an Austinite business owner needs to wear many hats. But do they know the difference between black hat and white hat SEO? For the brave, keeping a handle on the world of SEO involves keeping on top of what their neighbour, Google, will decide to do next. Like most things, people have tried, and succeeded, to manipulate search engine rankings. It is, after all, big business, and why Google has to make frequent changes to keep things fair - which is great, but another job to add to the list. Most of the time Google will announce, confirm or deny any algorithm changes they make. Though, it's not always the case. They also have lots of information on their webmaster pages about SEO best practice, but it's not extensive, more a guideline. With so many rules and changes about SEO it's easy to see why the large corporations have dedicated teams.

Are there any consistencies in SEO?

One piece of advice that does remain consistent is for website owners to publish relevant, useful information, and to take advantage of social media platforms to connect with their customers, fans or target audience. It's about the user experience: do people find what they're look for? When the thousands of people who plan their trip to Austin use the Internet to check out places to eat, sleep and be entertained, Google wants to make sure they find what they're looking for, fast. People don't have the time or patience to scroll through pages of results, and they trust what's at the top of the SERP's. There are many other aspects to SEO, including both on and offline optimisation. Sites also need to be mobile friendly, work on all devices, and be built using clean code. SEO consultants can check all these things while the Austinites prepare their businesses for the next big weekend.