As a small business owner, you have heard the term Search Engine Optimization or SEO. What is it and why is it important? Below, we cover the basics.
According to Webopedia, search engine optimization is a collection of:
...strategies, techniques, and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) -- including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.
The goal of optimizing a website for search engines is to help the website appear when a search engine user enters a given phrase. For example, if you're a dentist in San Francisco, you probably want your website to appear when a user searches for a "dentist in San Francisco" or "San Francisco dentist".
Why Is SEO Important?
SEO is important if you want your site to appear in Google and other search engines' results page. If users can find your business website easily, they are more likely to visit it. This is what's known as organic traffic. When your site ranks high in the SERPs, you'll receive much more organic traffic than if it's buried several pages deep.
Most importantly, when your site is properly optimized, the traffic that SEO can drive to your site can be highly qualified. For example, if your business sells widgets and ranks well for the keyword phrase "where to buy widgets," the visitors your site attracts are actively looking for exactly what you are selling.
What Goes into Search Engine Optimization?
As you can imagine, most small business owners want to take advantage of free, qualified search engine traffic. As such, ranking for keywords can be highly competitive. In the past, strategically placing keywords in your website content and getting a large number of inbound links to your site were sufficient.
However, search engines have become much more sophisticated. They no longer reward sites with the most keywords or links. In fact, they look for hundreds of signals and high quality content. Thus, search engine optimization has evolved. It is a complex discipline that requires a constant stream of fresh, engaging, relevant, and topical content.
Optimize Your Business Website
Below are a few tips to start optimizing your business website. They are by no means a complete primer on SEO.
- Write for search engine visitors first (think quality content) and search engines second.
- Add high quality content such as articles and blog posts to your site on a regular basis.
- Perform basic keyword research using Google's Keyword Planner to find the best phrases for your business. Ideally, you'll want to select relevant keywords with high search volumes and low competition.
- Create blog posts around those search terms, keeping your post informative and topical.
- Encourage sharing, liking, and comments on social media sites.
- Try to get incoming links from related websites. For example, you might offer to write an article or guest blog for an industry website.
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