As a Small Business Development Center Director for Southwest Iowa, I tell ALL of the businesses and start-ups that I work with that they NEED a website because most consumers and businesses are searching for what they want on-line. This is good and bad news. The good news is that people are defining what they want on their own. When they find you and click on your website you can bet that they are a very qualified lead. However, Being found on the Internet through search engines (google, Yahoo, Ask.com) is not easy. Search Engine Optimization is the process of making your Web site as easy to find as possible for search engines and, through them, your clients and customers.
So how do you rise to the top of Google?? Web pages have to contain the keywords and phrases most likely to be used when a customer enters search requests in an engine. We are talking about non brand specific searches. Most people don’t know the exact business they are searching for. They search using keywords. (ie: “house painters in council bluffs, ia””).
The first step in preparing to get your website found is to brainstorm your keywords. What are the words that your customers would use to find a business like yours. Keep in mind that people will type in more than one word and that if they are looking for a specific geographic location, they will localize it with the city, county or regional name. Your list of keywords should include single words as well as strings of words that potential customers might use in their search for you. Try using Google Adwords Keyword Tool to help you identify keywords for your business.
The second step is to use those keywords so that the search engines will find you. Here are a few tips. Find more tips at Start Up Nation and by searching SEO tips or Search Engine Optimization tips into google.
1. Use keywords in your page title tags. These tags are very important to SEO and usually appear as the headline in a Google search. Use your main keywords in the beginning of the title, even before the name of your business. (ie:use ” House Painting In Council Bluffs Iowa with Suzie’s Paint Crew” instead of “Suzie’s Paint Crew” or “Homepage”)
2. Use keywords in your page content. People are visual creatures and pictures and eye candy are appealing, but search engines look for text and keywords in your content. Save space near the top of the page for well written text that includes keywords.
3. Use keywords for your page links. Don’t use instructional words for links like “click here” etc. Keywords, keywords keywords!
4. If your business name is on your web page in the form of an image like a logo, make sure that you also have it in text in the content of your page. Search engines don’t see images. They find (you guessed it) keywords.
5. Don’t try to “trick” the search engines by loading your page with keywords and putting hidden keywords in your background. The main search engine organizations are keen to these practices.
6. Be wary of any company promising you top placement on any of the search engines. No one can promise this.
There are many more tips and it takes time to get your site up on top. Do your research and keep tweaking.