Thursday, 9 June 2011

An Introduction To SEO For Small Business Owners

This entry is submitted to us as guest post. The author's views are entirely their own and may not reflect the views of Alrayes Web Solutions.


As hard as it may be to believe there are still some businesses out there that believe they don’t need a website, or even worse, they’ve bitten the bullet and got the website but don’t understand the value in optimising it. Admittedly I’m slightly biased but I really do think the power of the internet has tremendous potential and if you’re not interested you’re obviously not interested in making your business the best it can be. With high streets all over the country still baring the scares of the recession and shop fronts boarded up more and more people are turning to the internet, not just to shop but to find information about where they should be spending their hard earned cash. People don’t turn to the yellow pages any more, they ‘Google’ it instead. The know the internet is going to give them more information than they’ll get from traditional print listings and that information will be more up to date and more thorough too. Whether you’re selling cleaning services, financial investment advice or rivets you can’t afford to ignore the internet.


I’m not saying you have to start investing massive chunks of your profits in an expensive SEO agency of even have to pay someone to work in house for you. It’s not rocket science and with a little patience you’ll soon understand the basics well enough to start seeing some results.


Research


Read everything you can, look at web sites of reputable marketing agencies and see who they listen too. Subscribe to some RSS feeds and get in the habit of reading a few industry relevant blogs for half an hour in the morning with a cup of coffee. Get your head round the basics and anything you’re unsure of just ask. There are plenty of forums out there full of people just dying to show off how cleaver they are. If there’s something in a specific blog post you’ve just read that you don’t understand then ask the blog writer, if they’ve closed the comment section off just drop them a quick email via the contact form.


Keyword research


As soon as you start learning about SEO you’ll discover the importance of choosing the right keywords almost instantly. These are what people are typing into Google and where you want your website to appear. If you’re selling cleaning services in Worcester then the key word you want your site to appear for is ‘cleaning services in Worcester’. The research bit involves looking for variations of these key phrases; people might also be searching for ‘Worcester maid services’ or Worcester house cleaning’. Once you’ve got all the different variations you want to know roughly how many people are searching for these terms. There’s no point doing all this work to get your site to appear for ‘Worcester maid services’ if very few people are actually searching for this phrase.


The hard bit


Now you know the basics of SEO and you know what key phrases you’d like your site to appear for you can get down to work. Getting the onsite aspects in check can be a never ending process but you shouldn’t struggle too much finding a basic tick sheet for onsite SEO checks. Things like making sure your pages are titled properly (key word rich, good character count etc), making sure you’re using heading tags properly, key word rich links (both internally and externally), getting sitemaps in place and getting your site speed down to a decent time.  To be honest there’s more here that I can fit in one paragraph in one blog post and this is the bit that will take some time to learn. Ideally once the majority of this is done, it’s done and you don’t have to worry about it too much.


Link building


This is the really time consuming bit and it’s where you need to be particularly careful if you’re new to the world of SEO. A link is when one site links to your website, ideally you want links from sites with power and authority and who are on topic. This is what really takes the time but there are lots of tricks you could try especially if you’re new. Ask your clients or suppliers if they’d mind linking to you (you could offer a review of their products in return or a discount of their next order). The most effective way to do this is to find a site you want a link from and pick up the phone and ask them, the worst that can happen is they’ll say no but at least you tried.


Jessica is an SEO for Splash Direct bathroom suites

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