My desire is to provide helpful and thoughtful information about all aspects of doing business. Feel free to share your comments, experience and insight!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tips For Optimizing Your Small Business Website

Search engine optimization is something every website needs. But before you can make that happen, you need to understand what it is. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of refining website content and using various programming techniques to improve a web site's ranking in search engine results. So how does a small business owner go about optimizing their site? Here are 5 basic tips to get started:

  1. Good content.
    Text on your site should read well for humans. That may sound silly but in the past, people making sites have tried to do all kinds of things to get search engines to rank them well, including filling pages with hard to read, link-filled, run-on sentences. Search engines have evolved to be able to know what good content looks like. Not to mention the fact that you want site visitors who get to your site to be able to read and navigate through your information effectively.

  2. Chose appropriate keywords for your business.
    Focus on no more than 15 key phrases. The goal is to rank well in search engine results for the most important terms and phrases to your business. This takes some time and consideration, as well as using some tools to determine the words that will give you the best quantity and quality of site visitors. A good tool is to use Google Insights. Then once you narrow down the keywords that will be the best for you, start incorporating them into all the pages of your website.

  3. Use keywords in content, page titles, page descriptions and links.
    Search engines use very complex algorithms to determine search result rankings and no one really knows all the variables. However we do know that quality, keyword rich content & links help the search engines determine what a website is really all about. So by using your list of 15 key phrases in the text of your pages, in the HTML page titles & descriptions and in any links on your site, you are helping the search engines know even more about your site content.

  4. Put names on all images.
    To a search engine, an image is just empty space unless it has what is called an alt attribute. Getting keywords and phrases into the alt attribute of all images on the page replaces the 'empty space' with quality content that the search engine can use to help rank the page.

  5. Publish new content and pages regularly.
    Of course, that is a tough one for a small business owner but the more you can share updated information, the more attention your site can get from search engines. An easy way to do it is add RSS feeds of related subjects to a page on your site. Or add a Facebook Page Badge if you have begun working with social networking. Fresh content is important to returning site visitors as well.

Getting a higher search engine rank for your web site is not as straight-forward as following a list of rules and recommendations for search engine optimization. As I noted before, no one outside of the programmers at Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engine operations really know all the details about how it works. But a foundation of good content, appropriate keywords, smart keyword placement and fresh content is the best place to start building your SEO strategy.