1.) Have the right website host and setup
I wish more discussions about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) would touch on the fundamentals of website hosting and IP addresses. Before getting into code or content, we often forget the basics of how our web pages are going to be structured and served up to the public.
Most small businesses, unless they are web-based or software-based services, will probably have a cheaper shared hosting setup. This means the website will be on a server which has other websites it hosts. This option is fine, but making sure the website does not share its IP address with other websites is critical. If Google bans an IP address because it detects, for instance, malware being served from that website, it will ‘blacklist’ all websites being served from that IP address.
Also, don’t have a homepage URL that automatically redirects to another URL. Often companies, in an attempt to transition or display an umbrella brand, will have ABCco.com redirect to ABCtires.com, only to wonder why ABCtires.com has difficult ranking well in Google. Pick your URL for your homepage and dedicate your user experience to that singular destination in their browser.
2.) Create your content
It’s a must for most small businesses in even mildly competitive industries to have to produce significant volumes of content in order to be highly visible in the search engines.
Take time each week to create unique content that provides your target audience a ‘non-salesy’ stream of text. A good rule of thumb is for your content to say ‘yes’ to –
a.) Does it answer basic questions customers have?
b.) Does it avoid sounding like I’m overtly selling something?
c.) Is it helpful?
Blogs are great ways for small business owners to quickly create content and can substitute or an extension to any small business website. Try WordPress as a blog platform. It’s very Google-friendly and easy but powerful in its feature set and you can install it onto your website.
3.) Optimize your content
Take the content you create and make sure you include helpful links to other (non-competitive) sites. Don’t worry about leading customers off your site, if the rest of your content is good, chances are they will come back. Additionally, the search engine optimization this produces will yield even more website visitors.
You should also take key phrases your website wants to be ranked for and make sure they are highlighted as links within the text of your website.
For each hyperlink, there is feature called a “title tag” for that link. This is the small box of text that sometimes appears when you hover your mouse above a link. Make sure this title tag is stuffed with a descriptive, keyword rich phrase of your link itself.
More tips to come next week!