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SEO for Small Business (part 2 of 3)

Yesterday, we talked about why SEO is important for you small business.  We touched on how SEO is a process, rather than a onetime event and discussed the importance of research and planning.  Now let’s take a look at what actually goes into making an optimized website:

1.  Tracking:  Before you even get started, you need to have web analytic software set up.  This will allow you to track the success of your strategy and to fine tune it as needed.

2.  Site Quality:  SEO is more than just cramming a lot of keywords into your site.  Run some searches through various search engines.  Take note of what pages make the first page and compare them to the sites on page 20.  The top 10 sites are not just the ones with the most keywords, they are actually all-around superior sites.  Bringing in traffic is only part of the goal.  If people visit the site and don’t stay to look around because your site doesn’t hold their interest, then the increased traffic isn’t beneficial.  Include unique quality content that gives users a reason to visit your site, a reason to stay on your site and a reason to come back again.

3. Site Map:  Make sure to include a site map.  Site maps help spiders crawl your site and gives you a chance to make sure that the content you feel is important is viewed as important by the search engine.  Taking the time to submit your site map to each search engine, individually, makes it just that much easier.

4.  File Names and URLS:  Keywords count in your file names and URLs, too, so use them.  However, be conservative.  A couple of keywords in a file name helps your site.  More than a couple looks fishy and will scare off users.

5. Title Tags:  Keywords in your title tags count more than anywhere else.  Each page should have a unique title tag that uses a relevant keyword.

6.  Description Tags:  Keywords in your description tags don’t matter to search engines, but they matter to users.  Just like title tags, each page should have a unique description tag that use relevant keywords in an easily readable statement describing the contents of the page in a way that will make users want to visit the page.

7.  Contact Info:  Location matters.  You can increase local traffic by including your phone number and address, including directions to your physical site or by mentioning local landmarks.  You should also submit your site to various search engines’ local directories as well as independent directories like CitySearch.  Beyond just boosting local traffic, these directories provide quality links to your site (more about this below).

8.  Internal Links:  When linking within your site, use keywords in your anchor text.  This helps spiders index your page and improves your sites visibility.

9.  External Links:  When other sites link to your site, it tells search engines that your site is important.  However, all links are not equal.  Links from quality, high-traffic sites count more than links from obscure, unvisited sites.  Directory listings are a good start for building links.  You can also participate in link exchanges (though the quality of links available from these are questionable).  Seek out links from prominent sites within your industry, business websites and other respectable online sources..

10.  PPC:  If you want quick results, consider opening a Pay-Per-Click account with one or more of the major search engines (i.e. Google AdWords or Yahoo! Search Marketing).  No strategy, no waiting – PPC is instant gratification.  That gratification doesn’t come cheap, but you only pay when users click your link.  You still need a quality site, though.  It doesn’t matter how many visitors your site gets if it doesn’t inspire them to use your product or service.