A Beginner's Guide to SEO for Small Business
SEO; a term that has become increasingly important with the continued growth of businesses not only marketing on the Internet but sometimes only existing there as well. SEO doesn’t refer to another executive office title in a huge business but actually is something that any member of a company can do; with the proper training or information of course.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is the planned and deliberate use of phrases or words in a website to make a product, service or the company itself more visible to the parameters of search engines of companies such as Bing, Google or Alta Vista. Imagine if you will (in Rod Sterling’s voice) a traveler, someone seeking sustenance on the freeways of data. If they take a random exit, perhaps they’ll find what their looking for. Suppose there’s a sign in front of the restaurant that directs the traveler there. Suppose further the traveler saw a sign at the exit for the business stating food to the right 1.5 miles. Suppose yet further the traveler saw a sign stating “Ben’s Burgers” next exit. Once more, suppose the traveler saw a freeway billboard sign advertising “Ben’s Burgers open 23 hours only 5 miles ahead at exit 75”. How closely do you want your business associated with a concept?
The assorted companies providing search engines for the general public know that people want specific, targeting information when they type in a word or phrase. You see most sites provide you initial top tier hits along with some related searches. If you wanted information on say, Katanas, and you type that in, you get 8,000,000 results. You can narrow this down by the past week and get 117,000. The past 24 hours and get only 853 results. At the top of that list you see, not something on Japan or even the Wikipedia definition. A company called BudK advertising ninja swords. Click to the page and you have a description of swords, a brief description of cleaning them and lots of swords for sale. This is an example of masterful SEO because of the top 4 listings, 3 being businesses and Wikipedia, they’re #1. How? Knowing how to design the web page to get the attention of the search engines (often called spiders, you know, the web analogy). They use algorithms to find popular, multiple, relevant locations and collaborate this data to present to the searcher as results. Now simply having a page that just said “KATANA SWORDS” would get their attention but the overuse would be filtered out. Using keywords throughout the website and in specific postings at other locations with a link back to your website delivers a more favorable result. Don’t use the same words, use different variations for example and don’t have too many links. Google for example will penalize you for potential link farming or spamming if you do. Those search engines do keep data on sites and if a ‘red flag’ is raised due to misuse or deliberate illegal activity to fake out the systems, you could find yourself in a veritable Bermuda Triangle of search results. JC Penny was nailed by Google for using a paid linking scheme. They’re pretty big, when you’re just starting, that’s the heat you don’t need.
SEO Tips for Small Business
Use your own content (best), make sure your content is purchased or royalty free (better) so someone doing a search engine check doesn’t come across THEIR material used without permission and leading to a cease and desist letter. Copyscape is a great tool for learning if content has been simply cut and pasted from another site and if you have a doubt, check there. Hire a competent web designer to incorporate links, keywords in the right quantity and in the right way and you’ll have a better chance of reaching the upper limits of search engine results and getting more information to customers.
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