Small Business SEO Tips and Tricks


Before getting into tips and tricks, here is some background information about SEO for small business owners. SEO, or search engine optimization, is a web development strategy or design that usually includes post-design promotional activity intended to enhance search engines’ recognition of a site. The goal is to have your small business website appear on or close to page one in Google, Yahoo, MSN, and the other major search engines.

The result, especially being listed #1 on page one, may mean more traffic driven to your website with the ultimate goal of visitors converting to buying customers.

SEO Tips

SEO may also mean a person, Search Engine Optimizer, a direct employee, or an outside contractor responsible for adjusting your small business website programming code, site content, and promotional activities to achieve page one with search engines. Like any profession, the performance level may vary widely from one to another.

Brick-and-mortar small business owners often launch a new website and expect the site to take over as the front line of marketing their product or service. This can be a mistake. Others want to enhance their image by showing sophistication with a WWW domain that presents more content than will fit on a business card or brochure, which is one of the top great small business ideas.

The first group wants traffic driven to their site. Few small business owners truly understand Search Engine Optimization or SEO, so some fall victim to persons offering SEO services for a fee. For the second group, just being online with a website that never changes meets their expectations, and they realize success depends on direct customer contact and marketing. A third group is similar to this last group, except they expect that having a website will magically bring instant fortunes.

If you didn’t guess by now, search engine optimization doesn’t have tricks. Tips for SEO success should be based on proven techniques with long-term positive results. Tricks that try to manipulate results by deceptive means may succeed in the short term but will eventually fail.

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

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

“Content is King” needs to be changed to “Original Quality Content is King.” The tweaking of algorithms in 2007 and the downward shift in overall PR for many sites is more than a temporary adjustment. Traffic is meaningless if visitors don’t stick around long enough to be converted to paying customers. Furthermore, I do not believe that Google punishes website owners who provide original quality content. Instead, I think millions of websites set up and tweaked to trick search engines are being caught and punished, and the PR scale in 2007 has shifted downward for quality site owners to fill in that void and redefine the PageRank range.

Small business website owners need to understand best-practice SEO strategies. I published some search engine optimization advice on my website in 2007. First is the main course from my menu to feed search engines, which uses an analogy comparing search engines to restaurants. Following that list are practices to avoid from that same article on my site.

Positive Search Engine Optimization practices to consider:

1. Keywords in the Page Title

2. Keywords in the 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 deceptive SEO practices you should avoid:

1. Do not have affiliate-only advertising pages. You need original content.

2. Do not have over-optimized pages. It won’t help SEO and may confuse your visitors.

3. Do not have link schemes, inbound or outbound. Deceptive practices will backfire.

4. Do not have identical content hosted on two separate domains (mirror sites).

5. Do not have plagiarized content. It is illegal, and search engines can tell.

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

In conclusion, continue to evaluate your small business website strategy for SEO. Take advantage of the best practices and avoid the negative or deceptive methods, and you can succeed. Most small business entrepreneurs service a local market, so your page ranking compared to the world’s ranking could mean a very high PageRank is impossible. By following the tips given here, you may have enough to edge out your local competition, and that’s probably all that matters.