Small Business SEO
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As a small business, a search engine optimization campaign can be very beneficial, but costly to implement. Pay Per Click Advertising is often a more efficient use of your money, but it wont help you at all with your organic listings.
The best option with a limited budget is usually a combination of the two. Start by using PPC to get visitors to your site. In the mean time, learn as much as you can about SEO and make sure that your site is at least search engine friendly. Even if you aren't adding new content or engaging in a link building campaign, you want to make sure the spiders can crawl your site and accurately index the content that is already there.
As you learn more, you'll be able to apply your knowledge bit by bit. As your business grows, you can make SEO a bigger part of your marketing initiatives and see increased benefits from it.
Where Do I Start?
There is some good information that is freely available on the web, along with a lot of really bad information. People love to find one example and claim it is the way things happen asa rule. Be careful of what you read, especially in forums, which are notorious for inaccurate info. Keep your eyes open, experiment, and you'll be amazed at how much you'll learn.
Basic Elements of an SEO Campaign
It's important to know what terms people are using to try to find the products and services you offer. Several tools exist to help you with this process, and each offer their own unique take. Using a combination of a couple of them will often give you the most complete picture of the keywords that are being used and their approximate search volume. We've found WordZe to be one of the best paid tools currently on the market.
Once you've figured out the right terms to target, you'll want to go through and start optimizing each page for its relevant keywords. This will involve changing the title tag, meta tags, headers and text. It's important to have unique titles and meta descriptions for every page of your site. This step helps the search engines know exactly what your page is about.
Search engines love fresh content. Set up a schedule for adding content and stick to it, regardless if it's once a day, week, month, whatever. The more the better, but make sure you are adding quality to you site, not just fluffy thin pages that have little value to your users.
The links pointing to your site from other sites is arguable the most important factor in how well your site ranks for a given term. You'll want to leverage any relationships you have, get a link from your family, friends, business partners, etc. Also look into authority sites that let you set up a subdomain and get some links that way.
This is an area that is unknowingly hurting a lot of websites. You'll want to check to make sure you aren't blocking the robots from crawling your site in your robots.txt file. You'll also want to make sure you are only serving up the www or non-www version of the site. If you can access both, this can create problems in the search engines.
Get the basics mastered and you will be well on your way to free traffic via good rankings in the organic search results.