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Small Business SEO Basics

Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about making your website more easily found on search engines like Google, Bing and Yelp when people type in keywords related to your business. Small businesses with professionally designed, search-engine-friendly websites can compete in a real way with larger competitors because their site appears as or more favorably in search engine results pages (or SERP).

SEO encompasses many very technical elements, but just understanding some basic concepts will help you considerably when it comes time to develop your website.

Domain Name

Your domain name is the internet address that is attached to your site (http://www.yourbusiness.com) and it’s a very large part of deciding how high up on the Google results your business appears. For instance, if a person is searching for “Wichita Dry Cleaner” and somebody has a website with the domain “wichitadrycleaner.com” then they will likely appear at the top of the search engine results. So , if possible, be sure to register the most relevant keyword-rich domain name possible along with your company name.

Title Tag

The title tag is the group of words that appears at the top of the title bar of your website and in the blue link that appears on Google results. They are one of the most important factors in getting a high Google ranking for your business’ website. You should include your company name as well as relevant keywords and phrases to ensure higher results. In fact, if you fix your title tags you will likely see some instant improvements in your company search results ranking.

Meta

Meta tags are elements of your website’s design code that specifies certain information like your website description, keywords, author of the document and other info. These tags will not appear on the website itself but are identified by Google and other search engines looking for specific keywords. The meta tags are always placed in the <head> section of the website’s code and they play a very large part in your search engine results.

Keywords (research)

Keywords are words and phrases that search engines crawl the internet looking for when people type them in to the search box. While the art of implementing the right keyword strategy for your website can be a little complicated. The basic idea is that the more a word or phrase shows up on your website (in fair and relevant ways) the higher the website’s Google ranking when those keywords are searched for. You should do some research on what keywords and phrases your customers use when looking for your type of business and make sure your website is s filled with them.

Links

The links on your website also play a big part in determining your Google ranking. The words of the link itself along with the alt text contribute to the relevancy of your website on Google results pages. As much as you can, create links with keywords and phrases related to your business and its functions.

Social Networks

Social networks have become a large part of a company’s SEO. By having profiles on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, a company is able to appear more frequently on search engine results pages through these profiles. Also, linking your profiles to each other as much as possible along with linking to your website on these pages helps increase the relevancy of your business site in Google.

Local Listings

For storefront businesses, the local listing (your company listing on sites like Google Places, Yelp, and Yahoo Local)  has become one of the most important parts of their online existence. Not only do customer reviews on these sites greatly affect people’s decisions in choosing your business, the description and link to your website on these pages play a large part in your websites SEO. Be sure to claim or create your listings on these various services. For more information read my article on Why Local Listings Are Crucial For Your Small Business.

Understanding your company’s SEO is the first step for you in the development of your company’s online strategy. Armed with this information, you should be able to take more effective steps in building your online presence so that you appear higher on Google results, get more traffic to your site and, ultimately, get more more customers.

Please leave us comments if you have any other ideas about SEO basics for small businesses.

4 Things You Should Do For Your Business Right Now

The world of the small business owner is vast and complex at times. Some businesses require more marketing expertise than others, some require more tech knowledge than others. But there are some very basic things that I believe every small business owner should do and I am always surprised when I find out that owners either don’t know about one (or all) of these things, think they’re a waste of time, or just feel they don’t have the time in their busy small biz schedule to take on these tasks.

Well, this is the new era of small business marketing. In this era, the right online marketing campaign can have your phone ringing more than you ever would’ve imagined. While some of you may think I’m stating the obvious on this list, you’d be surprised how many business owners haven’t taken advantage of these very easy (and FREE) marketing efforts. So if you find yourself sitting around thinking “What can I do for my business today?” refer to this list of 4 small but crucial things that you can and should do today, and do them!

1. Claim Your Business Online – If you haven’t learned about the value of local listings on sites like Google Places, Yahoo Local, and Yelp, it’s time you educated yourself! (I recommend my post on Why Local Listings are Crucial for Your Small Business.)

In today’s marketplace, consumers are looking to the internet more and more when deciding which services and products they are going to buy. It is for this reason that you must claim your business on these various sites. After you claim your business, make sure that all your business information is correct and provide as much information as possible. A well developed listing complete with your website, photos, hours of operations, and a description goes a long way in instilling confidence in your potential customers. It also improves your company’s SEO, SERP, and overall credibility.

I recommend visiting getlisted.org and use their site to list (or claim) your company on a number of these local listing sites or have your tech-person do it.

2. Make a Facebook Page – If you haven’t made a Facebook page (not a profile) for your small business you should definitely go make one and develop a strategy for making regular “status updates” for it. Research ways to utilize Facebook to connect with your customers, spread your company message, and improve your online position. There is an abundance of material on the internet on how businesses can benefit from a Facebook page.

3. Add your business to Foursquare –If you don’t know, Foursquare is essentially an online social game where people gain points, badges, and other rewards for “checking in” at various locations and there’s a few ways that small businesses can use Foursquare by rewarding folks who check in at their business. For instance, the title of “mayor” is given to users who check in at a location the most. Your business can offer special discounts directly on Foursquare for the “mayor” of your location, motivating people to compete for “mayor” by checking in at your business more.

4. Make Social Network “Signage” for your business – Now that you’ve put your business on these various social sites, tell your customers about it! One of the first things you can do is print up promotional signage to display around your business. Signs with graphics that say “Like us on Facebook” “Check In here on Foursquare!” with the site’s logo on it (Foursquare actually has a section on their site with graphics you can print out for this exact purpose.) This not only invites your customers to connect with you on social networks they’re already using, it also shows consumers that you are connected to the same networks that they are, and this helps build familiarity and customer loyalty.


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