For business owners getting your name on the top of the search result list keeps getting more complicated. It’s no longer just about paying big bucks to get a full page ad. Now it’s all about the SEO. Nearly 60% of the time, consumers first click one of the top three results.
It’s a fickle and sometimes perplexing process, but worthy none the less. Here are some tips - some of which I learned from an SEO 101 for Small Businesses event hosted by Shift Workspaces and led by Chris Kissner, Director of Business Development at Bron Tapes, Inc - to get you started, especially if you’re on a lean budget as so many startups are.
3 Tools to Try for Free
This tool is essential. One because it’s made by Google which is like in high school when that awesome teacher gave you a study guide that looked exactly like the test, and two because of the great community of users already using it you can reach out to when you’re stumped. Chances are you won’t even have to ask the question. It’s probably out there and answered.
This tool lets you enter your website address and gives you a thorough analysis of all things SEO complete with a grade for your site. What I like about this tool is it calls you out on the basics, such as alt-text for images, page titles, and page descriptions. From there, you have enough information to fix the problem yourself, then test again to see if it worked.
You want to make sure your site pops up when consumers do certain combinations of words. This tool gives you a breakdown of what keywords are more popular and how many sites are already using them. By entering in the words you know you need to use, it gives you a breakdown of 50 similar keyword combinations you should consider including on your site. You only start paying for this tool when you want a list of 2000.
A quick tip I learned from SEO 101 for Small Businesses is to download your SEO tools to your backup browser. For me, that’s Firefox. Having too many toolbars on your browser could slow it down, so my Chrome browser stays nice and fast, and I can use Firefox when I’m specifically doing SEO work.
3 Actions to Take Right Now
1. Claim your business on ALL the social sites
And I do mean all of them, even if you don’t use them yourself yet. This includes Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, and even Google+. I have a Google+ account myself, but do I use it? Not really. The reason you should create one for your business, though, I learned from Kissner at his SEO event. “Google loves Google,” Kissner said. And that makes sense. It’s how you can get Google to display your business more prominently and ensure correct contact information.
2. Submit your site to the Google Index
This is how you tell Google your website even exists. It only takes a few clicks, but requires Google Webmasters, which you already set up, right? Just click on Crawl – Fetch on Google within Webmasters and you’ll see what I mean.
3. Create as many landing pages as possible
A landing page is each distinct page in your site. The more landing pages you have, the more search results you’re putting out there. Create one page for each product, each office location, or each customer review. If you’re worried about making your visitors click around too much, have snippets of each product, location, or review on one page and then a link to “See More . . .” for each entry on another page.
3 FAQs Answered
1. What are some books I should check out to better understand SEO?
Well, the tricky part, and arguably the fun part, is the world of SEO is constantly changing, so books on the topic can quickly become outdated. Blog and sites devoted to SEO are the better way to go. To learn the basics, check out the highly respected Beginner’s Guide to SEO by Moz and while you’re there, bookmark their blog. On a slow day, I’ll sometimes click around the /r/seo and /r/trueSEO subreddits on Reddit.com. They kind of act as a filter for SEO articles and analysis.
2. I think we’re ready to hire an SEO expert, but how do I know who to hire?
Hiring someone to take on the elusive SEO actions can be a nerve-racking one. If the person you hire uses shady tactics, Google could penalize your site and push you further down the ranking. Before interviewing candidates, look up the topics of “white hat” and “black hat” for SEO. Make sure your new employee knows the difference between these two and knows to stay away from “black hat SEO.” I would also suggest running the sites they list as previous work through the QuickSprout Website Analyzer. You’ll know right away what grade they deserved for their work.
3. How can I change my existing domain to a completely new one?
It’s not uncommon for a startup business to change their name a few times. It can cause a headache, though, if you already created a site with the old name. A quick way to ensure your consumers go to the correct site is move all your content to the new domain and 301 the content on the old domain to the corresponding content on the new domain. To “301 the content” means to create a redirect for a page. When consumers click on the old links, they’ll go to the new site instead.
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