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Small Business Web Marketing: SEO Basics for Entrepreneurs

So your business has a website where you point all your clients that walk in your door. Great. You may even email or market your website through social media. Even better. All these are great ways to keep your client base strong and help attract more attention. Now there’s only one thing left (well, that’s a lie, there are tons of things you can do to improve your site, but this one is extremely important): Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

This topic can easily become confusing for small business websites because a lot of the discussion for SEO involves bloggers trying to reach thousands of hits per post to gain revenue from online ads and AdSense. While these guides can be useful, they aren’t the most relevant for small business, and, more often then not, they have a lot of superfluous information that small business websites don’t need.

Research

This is probably the most important step in SEO. There are a variety of methods and levels of thoroughness to go about SEO research, but I’ll cover the essentials here.

·        Brainstorm search queries

     Think about what words people would type into search engines to find your company or your company’s service. Write them down. No list is too long. This list will form your keywords.

·        Research your keywords – Sign up for Google AdWords and use the “keyword tool” and “ad text ideas” generator. This generally shows you how much competition your keyword has and gives suggestions for other related keywords with less competition (like long-tail keywords).

·        Based on your keyword research, analyze Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for each keyword – Look at who is ranking, what they are doing effectively, and how you can trump their website and SEO. Create a list. Compare content. Compare links. Look for similarities.

·        Search for your own site – Simply type your url into a search engine to see if it is indexed. If it isn’t, you may have to do a bit of trouble shooting to find out why.


Onsite

Now that you’ve done research, it’s time to make tweaks and changes to your website.

·        Sign up and verify with Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, and Bing Webmaster Center – let Analytics run for a couple weeks before doing SEO. This way you can compare whether or not your SEO is making a difference.

·        Evaluate visual design of the website – No amount of SEO can help a site with a design that drives people away.

·        Check browser compatibility – Again, not SEO; just good web trafficking principles.

·        Edit HTML code and optimize SEO related tags – Most important step here for SEO. Important tags are as follows:

o       Keywords in title tag (different for each page)

o       Keywords in H1 on each page

o       Keywords in p text

o       Optimize URL architecture (www.website.com/stuff/morestuff instead of www.website.com/allstuff/?category=stuff&othercategory=morestuff)

o       For images, include keywords in alt tags and filenames

o       Nofollow appropriate links

·        Create a meta description – This is the snippet under your link that users see in search queries

·        Add company address and phone number – Be sure that this is in text and on every page. Format it like a mailing address with the phone number at the bottom.

·        Add a robots.txt – This specifies what pages search engines can crawl. This also makes tracking search engines easier.

Offsite

Remember to continue marketing your website through other websites. Ask relevant sites and directories to link you and use social media if its relevant to your business or customers.

Author’s By-line:

Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online college. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com.

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