We have received a handful of emails asking us to explain the basics of SEO, so here goes! All of you SEO Guru’s out there, please bare with us as we tackle the basics.
If you already have a website, you probably spent either a good deal of time or money (or both) getting it set up so that it represents your company in the best possible light. But design is only part of the equation for successful online business. In this age of technology, small business owners need to have at least an elementary grasp of what it takes to keep them competitive on the internet.
So, let’s start with the basics. I am sure you’ve heard the term SEO before! SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” and it is a method for ensuring your website is properly “optimized” which helps with your ultimate goal of having your website appear at the top (or as close as possible to it) of a search engine’s results.
If you go to Google.com and type in the phrase “Web Hosting”, you’ll get literally hundreds of pages of results. However, most internet users are not going to search through all of them. They’ll look at the first and possibly second pages of results. That’s it. So if your web hosting company comes up on page 35 of the Google search results, it may never see the light of day. How can you get your website to come up closer to the top of the search engine results? That’s what SEO is all about!
Keep in mind that there are professional SEO writers who can revamp your entire website text to get your website on the right track; but if you are not interested in paying someone to do it for you right now, here are three handy “DIY” SEO tips that you can use to tweak your own website:
1. Select Your Keywords Wisely
Keywords are what SEO is all about. These are words, terms, and phrases that are used when people search the internet for a specific subject. Generally, the more specific the keywords, the better; for example, if you sell real estate you don’t just want to set your keywords as “real estate” or “home buying.” There are hundreds of thousands of other sites that use these same keywords and you will not stand out as unique just by using them.
What you want to do is figure out what makes your business unique, and form keywords based on that. So, for example, “Topeka Kansas real estate” is much more specific and will help people who are searching for a home in Topeka find your site quickly.
2. Use Your Keywords in all Areas of Your Website
This means using your keywords in your meta tags, your navigation buttons, your main page text, your files and folders, and your links. Obviously you need your website content to make sense, so simply repeating key words over and over again is not good form; plus many search engines are programmed to avoid sites that are obviously trying to cheat the system by using nonsensical text just for SEO purposes. But careful placement of SEO keywords in all the areas of your site can strengthen your website’s search-ability and this is the essence of Search Engine Optimization.
3. Get Linked!
In addition to keywords, search engines look for websites that have many other websites linked to it. If other websites consider your site an “authority” and are linking to it then it automatically gains a higher ranking in the search engine. You can get other sites to link to you by simply requesting it from the site owners. Often they will want a reciprocal link from your site to theirs and this is a good way to build online relationships.
You can also list your site in search engines (free or paid) and develop your online social networking tools. For example, you can create a Squidoo lens about your company’s products or services and link it back to your site.
These 3 tips are just the beginning of what can be done with Search Engine Optimization and they are simple enough for any small business owner with access to their website. However, if you are interested in really making SEO work for you, I recommend hiring a professional; or at the very least, developing your knowledge of online marketing and web tools.
Now, any of the SEO experts out there, please feel free to jump in and comment on any other details that may be helpful to our readers. Thanks!
Some excellent reading around the subject:
Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day by Jennifer Grappone
SEO Made Simple: Strategies For Dominating The World’s Largest Search Engine by Michael H Fleischner