Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Search Engine Ranking: Basic SEO for Small Business

Amazingly, it's 2010, a tenth of the way into the 21st Century, and many small businesses are not ranking well in search engines. Due to having older Web 1.0 websites or poorly designed Web 2.0 sites, these businesses with poor search engine ranking are receiving fewer visitors and thus fewer sales than they should be receiving.

What's the problem? Fundamentals, or rather the lack of fundamentals.

In sports, those atheletes that excel and become Olympians are those that master the fundamentals of their sport. So too, businesses that master the fundamentals of search engine ranking are those that succeed and grow.

What are the fundamentals of search engine ranking?

The core of successful search engine ranking is keyword selection. Research and select three and four word phrases that potential customers are actively searching for. Google's AdWords Keyword Tool is one method for developing a list of phrases actively being searched.

Assign each web page a particular search phrase being searched by over 1,000 people, if possible.  Then tune that page for the selected phrase. Your pages ranking will improve.

Consider renaming pages from the nearly useless "aboutus.htm" to a more beneficial "about-search phrase goes here.htm". Having a keyword or two in the page name is a plus for a good  search engine ranking.

Check your page titles by looking in the blue bar at the top of your browser.  What's up there now? Its not an accident that "Timothy Lee AR" is at the top of your screen. That's deliberate. One of my marketing goals is to own most, if not all, of the ten first page search engine results for "Timothy Lee AR" on Google, Bing, and other search engines. (Check in a few months and see how well I did.) You can do this too by changing your page titles to start with your targeted key words.

Check your meta tags. While Google does not score meta tags for your search engine ranking, Google may use your description meta tag for your search engine listing. Customers don't visit all the search engine results, but select those that more closely describe the sought information. A good description increases click-throughs. Customers actually have to click and visit to generate sales or sales leads.

Use your targeted search engine phrase several times in your first paragraph and throughout the page text. You should aim for about 200 words of text on every page with a saturation of about 3-5% for the targeted search phrase. Many shopping carts lack adequate descriptions for good search engine ranking. By the way, have you figured out what search phrase this page is tuned for besides "Timothy Lee AR". If you answered "search engine ranking," you are correct.

Finally, Arkansas small businesses should request a FREE search engine optimization report from their nearby center of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center.

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