Small Business Search Engine Optimization Tips

DOUG AND POLLY WHITE Special Correspondents

QUESTION: I just started a new business. I think it is extremely important for us to develop good search engine optimization (SEO) so that people can easily find us on the web. Do you have any advice on how to achieve this?

ANSWER: We agree, depending on your business, good SEO can be very valuable. There are many people advertising ways to trick search engines into finding your site. We advise you to stay away from these get-rich-quick schemes. First, because people, like the people at Google, are constantly trying to prevent tricks from working, what works today may not work three months from now. It’s a moving target. Second, if search engines find out that you are playing games, they will block you.

We find that consistency and quality are the keys to good SEO. With that said, the details of how to build good SEO can be complicated. At the risk of oversimplifying, we’ll offer five tips for building good SEO.

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Choose a unique company name – You want people to be able to find you if they Google your company name or something close to it. If you choose a commonly used company name, this will be more difficult. For example, we originally named one of our companies Richmond Performance Group. Bad choice, half the businesses in the area are named Richmond in some way. We found that Whitestone Partners worked better for the name of our consulting business.

Create a strong website – Make sure your website describes exactly what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it. Use commonly searched terms in descriptions. Embed the right meta data which consists of strong page titles, good page descriptions and the right meta tags. Remember that more is not always better. Loading your site with hundreds of meta tags will do more harm than good – six to ten is probably a good rule of thumb. Meta data should use frequently searched words, but should also be closely related to the content of your website.

Embed a blog into your website – Add a high-quality blog to your website. Make sure the blog is embedded on your website. If you let someone else, say Word Press, host your blog, you won’t build as much SEO when people visit it. Post regularly. For example, post once a week. Writing the blog posts yourself takes discipline, but it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for most organizations. However, if you don’t have the time, you can ask for permission to use content written by others or hire a ghostwriter for a very reasonable price. Regardless of where you get your content from, make sure it’s high quality and relevant to what you do. The content in your blog posts should match what’s on your site. Make sure new content is flowing continuously. It is better to have one new post every week than to post 52 times in one week and then let the blog sit for 51 weeks. Finally, make sure the titles contain searchable words and are directly related to the topic of the article.

Drive people to your website – Nothing builds SEO organically like a consistent stream of visitors to your website. We’ve had great success using a continuous stream of automated tweets to promote the free content on our blog. Tweets go out roughly once every four hours. When people click to read the article, they go to the blog embedded on our website and improve our SEO. Obviously, this strategy will only work if you have a significant number of Twitter followers who are interested in the topics you write about.

Make your site easier to find – Including a sitemap can be helpful. There are tools that qualified technicians can use to evaluate and improve the quality and searchability of your site.

Building and maintaining exceptional SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. However, in the right industry, it can be invaluable. The five tips above will get you on the right track.

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