Small Business Guide to Climb the Search Engine Rankings

Small Business SEO

In this article we are going to explore some strategies that are not quite as well known for optimising your web page rankings in order to attract much larger volumes of the Internet search traffic and more importantly, the right kind of search engine traffic; hungry buyers for your goods and services. Whilst Search Engine Optimisation is a critical part of your overall marketing strategy, it is worth pointing out that it must not be the only activity you perform to achieve your goals.

“Keywords are King”

I would like a dollar for every time I have mentioned that phrase and I must admit, it is not my phrase but the importance of keywords or key phrases cannot be overstated. Keywords are the phrases Internet users type into a search engine like Google to go looking for information. Therefore, it is critical for your strategy, that your web pages are optimised for the keywords for which you want to be found. I should point out here that the search engines do not rank your website; they analyse your webpages and perform calculations depending on several criteria which pertains to the page… not the site. So, the correct strategy is to maximise every page based around the keywords you would like to be put into a search engine search request.

Typically, keywords are not just single words but a couple of words or a phrase. I often suggest to clients that they contact some of their best clients and ask them “What would you put into Google as a search term to find our business”. The results will really surprise you. Then I suggest that clients ask staff, family and friends to build a list of 15 or 20 keywords or phrases and use this as the starting point. Once you have the list, go to Google and type in ‘Keyword Tool’ to locate the free keyword tool provided by Google. This tool will dig out a whole lot more keywords or phrases for you to consider. Enter the keywords from your list, provide the captchya information and have a look at all the keywords based around your search word that are delivered by Google. Take not of the Global Monthly Search Volume and you’ll probably notice that a whole bunch of Internet searches are for terms that your webpages are not even mentioning

Here’s the interesting part. You can export this list from the Keyword Tool into a .csv fle but before you go and start changing your webpages and web content, find a couple of keywords that maybe you are not using and enter them back into a Google search but this time, surround the word or phrase with quotation marks “ “. Click search and see how many competing pages there are for those words or phrases. Ideally, if you can find a keyword from the list you exported that has less than say 1,000 other pages for the same keyword, this word should become your target for Search Engine Optimisation. High search volume with low competition equals higher up the search engine ladder and hence more visitors.

Just Before We Leave Keywords

Typically you will have about 50 keywords or phrases from doing any serious keyword research or keyword mining exercise.

There are three important things you should do once you have found what your best performing keyword :

1.      The keyword or phrase should be in the title of your front page

2.      The keyword or phrase should form the H1 tag contents on your front page

3.      The keyword or phrase should be mentioned at least once in the first 50 words of the lead article on your front page

4.      Keywords or phrases should be mentioned in all of your content on your webpages, just save your primary keyword for the first 5 words on the front page

I won’t go into detail here on the way you perform those actions so if you are unfamiliar with how your website is built or maintained, ask your graphic designer or website builder to make those changes for you if they are not already done.

Off-Site Factors and the Role of Links

What we have been discussing is referred to as On-Site Factors. The Off-Site Factors are probably even more critical to your search engine ranking. These include primarily the links back to your website located on other webpages. In previous years, just having the links was enough to ensure search engine success but now the content of the site that delivers your link is critical to your strategy. The search engines are also looking at the text on anchor links and ‘alt’ text on images to build a profile that should match the type, style and content on your webpages.

You should be trying to get as many links back to your webpages from other sites that have content of a similar nature. Links from a Government or University website carry an even higher weighting so if you can get any links from those websites your ranking will skyrocket.

I often get asked by business owners “How do we get our site links onto other websites” and the answer is simple. Ask! You will be amazed, there is an enormous amount of websites out there with content that is similar to your but at the same time, you are not competing for the same client at the same time and these should form the basis of a list to approach about them linking to you and similarly, you linking back to them.

What about all the free services out there? Squidoo, eZine, blogs and such websites are great sources for getting links back to your website. Create your own links! Join a forum with content that relates to your business and place posts on the forum with links back… there are lots of ways you can create links that will help in your strategy.

Website Authority

The links coming back to your website all form what is called your website link profile. The search engines give your site an authority rating based on the quality of those links and this all determines your ranking in the organic search results. These are the non-paid for results section down the centre left of a Google results page for example. The higher your authority is, the better your placement in the list.

Search engines like to deliver quality content to their clients. The better the quality, the more clients will trust the results that are returned. More clients mean more advertising dollars being spent. You website needs to be seen by the search engines as a trusted authority for good quality content.

It also gets credit for age so for instance, a website that has been around for 5 years gets a better Authority Rating than one of 5 months.

All of these factors are critical to some extent in your ability to get to the top of the organic searches for your category. The amount of time and resources you are prepared to spend to achieve a higher ranking coupled with the knowledge of where to direct your energy all play a part.

Never Underestimate the Value of Good Quality SEO Campaign

Good quality keywords targeted at your target market along with some site modifications to things like the page titles, H1 tags and keyword placement inside articles that deliver good meaningful content all deliver some benefit in delivering more traffic to your website.

Getting inbound links and maximising Website Authority to the best you can achieve will help your site gain valuable momentum as you climb the organic search rankings. You can supplement these activities with things like Google Adwords and links from social media heavyweights such as Facebook and Twitter. You could also write good quality articles and have them published at places like eZine or ArticleBase but don’t forget to create a hyperlink that links back to your chosen webpage so the search engine spider finds the link and rates it accordingly. All of that can best be supported by good quality, well written and meaningful content on your website. There can be no substitute.

Designing a good effective Search Engine Optimisation strategy takes time and patience. Sometimes results are not seen for two or three months and therefore it is difficult to know whether any one particular action has had a greater effect than any other. However, there is ample research out there to suggest that if you implement all of the strategies I have mentioned above, you will see vast improvements in your rankings and hence more clicks and visitors. Give them a reason to stay on your site by delivering good content and you’ll build relationships that will convert into business.

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