The Basics of SEO for Small Business
Search engine optimization is not that complicated, but it’s not something you’ll want to invest too much of your time to learn about. Even the DIY personalities have to respect that some services are better handled by experts.
The thing is, SEO strategies change from one provider to the next and the guidelines also change quite frequently. It’s too much of a hassle to keep up with maintaining an effective presence on the web. A skilled SEO provider can help you dominate search engine results so you can get more customers. Unfortunately, an inexperienced SEO provider can gamble with the credibility of your brand.
With that in mind, there are some SEO basics that every small business owner should know in order to make an informed decision on who can be trusted with your reputation.
Building the Foundation for Search Engine Optimization
This first step is the most important. It should be your web designer who implements keywords throughout web page content, URLS, meta data and image alt tags. Piece of cake.
Don’t get fooled into thinking that’s all that is needed to rank well in search engines. If you have competitors who are also optimizing for the same keywords then it will take a bit more effort.
Local Search Placement
If you are computer literate, you can do this yourself. Assuming your small business caters to a specific region, utilizing local directories (such as Google Places for Business) will get you on the front page much quicker.
Keep in mind that this might not bring traffic to your website but local search placement will increase targeted exposure to your brand and may lead to more phone calls or visits to your physical place of business.
That’s what you want, right?
Your web designer may also tell you that fresh content is an important part of SEO. They would be right to tell you this, but the advice itself is misinformed.
Know that the worst thing you can do is let your website go stale. The second worst thing you can do is publish new content just for search engines.
Instead, focus on offering valuable topics that get subscribers, likes, shares, and/or ignite conversation. Include keywords, naturally, because it does enhance your SEO efforts. Most websites will hire a content management company or a copywriter who puts quality above quantity.
The most controversial of all SEO methods, link building is a stable tactic that can be easily abused or misunderstood. Put it this way… any links that you publish should be very relevant and treated like a direct marketing campaign. (Think guest blogging or exchanging links with a relevant service provider.) They should also have authority. When a credible site links to yours, it gives you more credibility too. You can picture this like “street cred” but the technical term is Google Page Rank and it has a number between 0-10. Honestly though, you don’t build links for the street cred, or the Google PR. You do it to get more exposure to a targeted audience of potential customers, right?
Be very, very careful with this. Many inexperienced SEO providers will approach link building for small businesses the same way they would do it for a larger site and it can unintentionally backfire.
It’s never practical for a small business owner to manage their own websites. Leave it to an expert. But be involved! Know what will help you and what will hurt you (get you blacklisted from search results for spamming) so you can choose the SEO provider who will protect the credibility of your brand.