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Best SEO Practices for Small Business

Updated on June 15, 2011

SEO Fundamentals

You don't have to spend a fortune to improve your search engine rankings, and you don't have to spend hours researching every single tool and tip. You don't have to buy expensive training programs, either. You just need to practice some fundamental habits consistently. This Hub will focus on how to improve your game and get search engine leverage from the things you already do in your business.

Back-Links

One thing you're going to have to learn how to do if you want your web site to start appearing in search engine results more often: build back-links from other sites. All this means is that you need other sites on the internet to point back to yours. In addition, you don't just want to put plain old links on other sites. You want links that contain anchor text. I'll show you what I mean here.

Here's a plain old link:

http://www.palsiespopcornandsweets.com/Crazy_Cornfetti_p/b-d-ccorn.htm

Here's a link to the same page, with anchor text:

Rainbow Popcorn

See the difference? Google does.

Palsie's Popcorn is a client of the SEO company in Raleigh where I work, so I thought I'd use this as an opportunity to give them one more back-link. Every back-link counts. This is one fundamental concept of SEO that you need to understand no matter what type of strategy you decide to use.

You may also notice that I inserted a link into the words "SEO company in Raleigh" up above. This is something you should be doing also. The "anchor text" refers to the words that you can see on the screen whenever there's a clickable link. Having relevant anchor text in your links is important. You want the anchor text to reflect an accurate picture of what the user finds if he/she clicks on the link.

Keyword Research

You'll need to start thinking differently about your business if you want to get ahead on the internet. Most small business web sites do not create search-engine friendly content and are ignored by the search engines. The reason for this is simple. Instead of using language based on what their customers are searching for, they use language based on what they think is great about themselves. An example of bad search engine content might be, "We really care about our customers and we are committed to doing the job well every time." There are no keywords in this sentence that anyone would type into a search engine.

You don't need to obsess over this idea - and in fact, I recommend that you don't - but you should re-evaluate your web site copy and other content that you create. Pick some sentences at random and ask yourself, "When was the last time I typed this into a search engine?"

In the video down below, I share a specific tactic for finding good keywords if you aren't sure which ones to use. But for now, just use common sense. If you own a CPA firm in Atlanta, "Atlanta Accountant" or "Atlanta CPA" are good keywords. The name of your firm is not a good keyword unless you're already famous.

When someone places a link to your web site on their site, they are said to have given you "link love." This is different from "link juice," which is more technical in nature. If you're just starting out, you don't need to worry about that distinction just yet.

On-Site SEO

Title Tags

Any good SEO company will tell you that title tags are important. This is the first thing that Google looks at when it crawls your page. The title tag is the text that appears in the top tab of the web browser. See the capsule below for an example using the SEOMoz web site in Firefox.

Title tags are indicated in HTML code by: <title></title>. Some web sites use really long title tags that you can't see by looking at the browser tab. Search engines generally don't look at anything beyond 60-65 characters, so long title tags don't really accomplish anything. Just because you see other web sites doing something does not mean you should do it!

Content Length

The jury is out on content length, and everybody has a different theory. Most sources seem to agree that a web page should have at least 250 words of content on it. Longer does not mean better. Google doesn't seem to directly penalize web sites for having copy that's either too long or too short. The question of copy length seems to be more important from the perspective of human readers than it does from an SEO perspective.

Search-Engine Friendly URL's

An example of an ugly URL:

http://abcwidgets.com/index.php?pageID=4027

An example of a search engine friendly URL:

http://abcwidgets.com/square-orange-widgets.php

Off-Site SEO

The majority of SEO takes place away from your web site. Once you've taken care of things on your web page, you need to start creating a network of links that lead human visitors and the search engines back to your site. This is not a "once and done" activity. This is a practice that you need to maintain regularly if you want to be found on the search engines for the right things. You accomplish this by creating content.

Types of Content

Looking for ideas about what to create? There are some simple types of content that can quickly start building you an online presence, even if you're not a writer.

Product reviews

Talk about the products and services that you use to help your customers. Which ones are the best ones? For example, EpicRealm Productions recently posted a video about which types of camcorders are good for video blogging. (I ended up settling on the Kodak Zi8.)

How-To's

Write short articles or produce videos that highlight your expertise. Don't worry about picking the perfect topics. Just start posting content. Even if no one reads it, the search engines will still index it and it will help improve your search engine performance.

Places to Post Content

  • Other people's blogs (guest blogging). You know a lot of people who have blogs, unless you live under a rock. Reach out and offer to write a guest post. You can include a link back to your web site or ask the blog owner to do this.
  • EzineArticles.com
  • Right here on HubPages! Remember that you can post up to two links pointing to the same domain in each Hub. The key is to include plenty of good content with each link. I included one link up above and I'm going to put another one right here: SEO Raleigh.
  • Squidoo.com
  • eHow.com
  • wikiHow.com
  • YouTube. Do you ever speak at local civic clubs or organizations? If so, bring your video camera along and upload the speech! See an example in the capsule below of a recent speech I just gave at Business Networking International (BNI).


Title Tags Example

The tab in the upper-left hand corner of the screen shows the title tag "SEO Software. Simplified. | SEOMoz"
The tab in the upper-left hand corner of the screen shows the title tag "SEO Software. Simplified. | SEOMoz" | Source
Zoomed in closer for better viewing with a yellow box around the title tag text.
Zoomed in closer for better viewing with a yellow box around the title tag text. | Source

Example of Video Taping a Speech (BNI)

Keyword Strategy video

There's Plenty More

I've only just scratched the surface of SEO here in this hub. You could spend the rest of your life learning tools and tricks. Don't bother. If you do the things I recommend in here and nothing else, you will be ahead of most small businesses. The number of companies who don't even do the basics when it comes to SEO is astounding to me. Give it a shot and start practicing.

Comments

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    • Brinafr3sh profile image

      Brinafr3sh 

      8 years ago from West Coast, United States

      Hi Dave, Useful SEO tips, thanks for sharing.

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