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Small Business SEO

Getting high rankings in the search engines is an afterthought for most small business owners when considering a new web design. And once they realize that they need it, their top concerns, understandably are "How much is this going to cost?" and "How long before I see results?"

Small business SEO is often overlooked in getting a small business website online. SEO experts would recommend that, ideally, SEO should come first, before designing a website. While we certainly agree with this recommendation, we also recognize that most small business website projects are started with limited initial funds and good intentions to develop things further as time and money permits.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is unfortunately, a term that most small business owners are barely familiar with. Once the new website is up and running, most small business owners, having limited funds to invest, hope that there are some "quick and simple" changes that can be made that will "bring their web site up when someone searches" for their products or services. Unfortunately though, Search Engine Optimization is almost never quick and simple. But that doesn't mean that SEO for your small business is going to take a bunch of money to get results! Let's take a look at the SEO process that we use and how we put you in control as to how far we go on your money.

Our SEO process puts you in control as to how far we go on your money!

First Things First: Search Engine Registration is not SEO

Many small business owners think that search engine registration IS SEO. While free registration with Google, Yahoo and Bing is included with all of the web sites that we design, simply submitting your web site to the search engines is only going to get your site listed for a search of your exact business name (for all intents and purposes). It won't get you listed in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for any particular keyword phrase that someone types in on a search.

How Our Small Business SEO Process Can Help

We spend a lot of time researching the search engines and search optimization techniques.  The knowledge gained there in conjunction with specialized SEO software tied into a data center allows us to design a page (or site) more capable of achieving a higher ranking in the search results when someone types in your search phrase(s). We believe that a number of individual SEO tasks, implemented in roughly the following order, each contribute to the larger SEO process of getting your small business website optimized:

SEO Web Site Audits
You can't optimize a website unless you know how and where it is lacking.
Configuration of Web Analytics Software
We use both Google Analytics and WebCEO to collect data and measure progress.
Installation of Web Analytics Tracking Code
Each of your web pages needs a snippet of programming code placed in it for the software to work.
Keyword Research & Selection
Research using specialized software or web sites to select optimal keyword phrases that will bring your website targeted visitors more likely to become customers.
Rankings Reports
Reports to let you know where you ranked before and where you rank now for your ideal keyword phrases.
Competitor Analysis
What are your competitors doing that ranks them higher than you?
Content Writing
Content really is king and it needs to be unique, relevant, popular and incorporate your ideal keyword phrases. Web content writing can be quite difficult and time consuming for many small business owners.
Semantic Restructuring of Content
Header tags and lists can make your content easy to scan for short attention spans!
Onsite Page Optimization
Some important things within our immediate control, like page titles, image ALT text, link text, meta descriptions, 301 redirects, canonical urls and sitemaps.
Link Building
Like votes for your website, incoming links to your site are by far the top factor for rankings.
Maintain the Website by Periodically Checking Quality
Checks for common problems such as: broken links, missing images, untitled pages, slow pages, broken anchors, missing Meta tags, stale content.

Small Business SEO for Those on a Limited Budget Means No Long Term Contracts

While most SEO firms require you to sign a long term contract, we feel that that forces you to commit funds to something that may take a long time and could become less of a priority down the road in the immediate funding priorities of your small business. We prefer a pay-as-you-go model where we make "agreed upon" small changes (as part of a larger ongoing SEO process) and YOU are in control of how far we go. This also ensures that you don't get "stuck" with a lousy SEO firm or consultant!

Generally speaking, the actual work will be done in small chunks, each time followed by a waiting period to determine whether the changes made on and off your website have resulted in improvement. So, in any given month, you may only incur a couple of hundred dollars or less in expenses for the improvements. While the SEO process continually builds on itself, financially speaking, it works out well for the small business SEO client because you only need to pay a little at a time and only until your website gets to where you want it!

Proof is in the Pudding: Web Analytics Will Be the Tool with Which You Can Measure Progress and Keep Your SEO Consultant Honest

Naturally, there needs to be a way to measure progress to see if any of this work is paying off. This is where web analytics software comes in. If you can't measure it and can't quantify it, then how do you know whether you're going in the right direction - and what justifies paying for the work?

Furthermore, you're going to want to know where you're at before even beginning an SEO effort. That's why web analytics tracking code should always be installed on your pages prior to beginning any changes. Once installed, you can establish a "baseline" and start gathering some insightful information.

Web Analytics software can provide many insights into your small business website, such as:

The Problem With Web Analytics

Understanding web analytics means understanding the terminology that is used to describe what's going on with your web site. The problem with web analytics terminology is that, like many other computer oriented things, it is a bit cryptic. A quick search in Google using the search phrase "understanding web analytics" will bring you to this Wikipedia article which in itself is quite cryptic!

Understanding Web Analytics - How We Can Help

We can help you understand the key terminology and important metrics. Not all of it is useful to many small business owners. Once you know which metrics to watch, your hosting Webalizer web statistics or Google Analytics will make more sense. As you see the increase in your traffic and start finding your pages ranked higher in the search results, you'll be looking into what SEO term means what and checking the pulse of your website daily! Web Analytics is for most people, the most exciting part of your small business SEO efforts!

Summary

Small business SEO can be a lengthy, complex process that requires patience, time and effort, but it really can pay off for your business. It does not however, necessarily require a large up front investment of money or a long term commitment to a single SEO consultant. Even a little SEO can benefit your website. SEO improvements can also be monitored by you the small business owner, keeping your web designer or SEO consultant honest and accountable, ensuring that you're spending your money wisely!

Great SEO Articles, Checklists, Tips, Tools and Software