SEO Tips and Tricks for Small Businesses

Before we get into tips and tricks, here is some background on SEO for small business owners.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a strategy in web development or design that generally includes a post-design promotional activity aimed at improving the recognition of a site by search engines. The goal is for your small business website to appear on or near page one on Google, Yahoo, MSN, and the other major search engines. The result, especially in the # 1 listing on page one, can mean more targeted traffic to your website with the ultimate goal of visitors becoming buyer customers.

SEO can also mean a person, or the Search Engine Optimizer, who is a direct employee or outside contractor with the responsibility of adjusting your small business website programming code, site content, and promotional activities for Achieve page one with the search engines. Like any profession, the level of performance can vary greatly from one to another.

Physical small business owners often launch a new website and hope that the site will become the first line of marketing for their product or service. This may be a mistake. Others just want to enhance their image by showing sophistication with a www domain that features more content than can fit on a business card or brochure.

The first group wants traffic directed to their site, yet few small business owners really understand search engine optimization or SEO, so some fall victim to people offering SEO services for a fee. For the second group, simply being online with a website that never changes meets their expectations, and they realize that success depends on direct customer contact and marketing. A third group is similar to the latter group, except that they hope that just having a website will magically bring instant fortunes.

If you didn’t guess by now, there are no tricks to search engine optimization. Tips for SEO success should be based on proven techniques with long-term positive results. Tricks that attempt to manipulate results by deceptive means may be successful in the short term, but will ultimately fail.

Search engine algorithms for ranking like Google PageRank are secret. The best thing to do is to guess how and why they change by tracking each quarterly update. Most PageRank watchers, or PR for short, are trying to unravel what Google deems important and then manipulate their strategy to improve their ranking in search results. That could be a mistake. If adjusting strategy means manipulating what some think is important, they too often resort to deceptive means with short-term gains.

I have written many times that deceptive practices will backfire. You will be punished. If you keep track of PR or follow the advice of SEO gurus, then you’ve heard the cliche “Content is king.” My position remains that the secret to search engine optimization is designing sites for visitors first and then adding original quality content often to get the attention of people and search engines.

“Content is King” should be changed to “Original Quality Content is King”. Traffic is meaningless if visitors don’t stick around long enough to become paying customers. I think the algorithm adjustment in 2007 and the downward shift in public relations in general for so many sites is more than a temporary adjustment. Also, I don’t think Google is punishing website owners who provide original quality content. Instead, I think millions of websites set up and tweaked just to fool search engines are getting caught and punished, and the PR ladder in 2007 has shifted down for quality site owners to fill that void. and redefine the PageRank rank.

Small business website owners must understand SEO strategy best practices. Here are some search engine optimization tips that I posted on my website in 2007. First is the main course of my menu for feeding search engines that used an analogy comparing search engines with restaurants. Following that list are practices to avoid from that very article on my site.

Positive search engine optimization practices to consider:

1. Keywords in the page title

2. Keywords in H tags

3. The age of your WWW domain

4. The size of your website

5. Backlinks (inbound links to your pages)

6. Keywords in text links

7. High-quality original content

Negative or misleading SEO practices to avoid:

1. Don’t have affiliate-only advertising pages. You need original content.

2. Don’t have over-optimized pages. It won’t help SEO and can confuse your visitors.

3. It does not have outgoing or incoming link schemes. Deceptive practices will backfire.

4. Don’t have identical content hosted on two separate domains (mirror sites).

5. Not having plagiarized content. It is illegal and the search engines may know it.

6. Do not use foul language such as swearing, or content that is hateful or racist.

In conclusion, keep evaluating your small business website SEO strategy. Take advantage of best practices and avoid negative or deceptive methods, and you can be successful. Most small business entrepreneurs serve a local market, so ranking your pages compared to the world could mean that a very high PageRank is impossible. If you follow the advice given here, you may have enough to outperform your local competition, and that’s probably all that matters.

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