Even the smallest business can have a website that shows up well in search engine results. This article is for the owners of the smallest businesses, a "shorter than Cliff Notes" brief explanation of just a couple of the basics behind SEO and search engine ranking for small businesses. We'll cover more topics in future articles.
First, SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and generally speaking refers to the practice of doing everything you can to make your website and webpages easy for search engines to figure out, resulting in better placement in search returns.
You might be surprised to learn that SEO is an industry unto itself, can be enormously involved and complicated, and that depending on the size of their business, companies will spend $500-$1000 to even thousands of dollars a month just on SEO.
(If you have a spare 10 minutes and would like to read an excellent article detailing what SEO firms do to earn that kind of money, read “What Does An SEO Firm Do?” by Joshua Steimle.)
What are the search engines looking for in a small business website?
How do search engines evaluate your site, and how do they decide whether your site deserves to be higher or lower in their rankings? Their ultimate goal is to figure out how useful your site is, and how useful is it in comparison to other sites providing the same information.
Where your website shows up in search engine results is not the result of one or two or three or four specific factors. This is an important point, partly because if all the details aren’t done well the results may be poor, and also because if you ignore this you may wind up more frustrated than you need to be.
Website Construction is an SEO factor
A website needs to, from the beginning, be built in a way that doesn’t frustrate search engines. Just like any other product - cards, houses, anything - the way a website is coded is important.
That’s why we use WordPress, because search engines love the way WordPress is built. All of that is “out of sight,” though, and not something the average user can control or modify.
Competitor websites are an SEO factor
Competition is a significant factor that can have a dramatic effect on where your website shows up in search results.
Your competitors have websites, right? If their website is really good, and has been around longer than your website, that gives them an advantage. And if you’re in a really competitive marketplace with quite a few competitors, that’s another major complication, because your website is competing with a whole bunch of quality websites.
Content is critically important for SEO
Search engines often make adjustments to the criteria they use to evaluate and rank small business websites. A number of the “techniques” that were used to drive traffic to websites in the past are now not just only out-of-favor, but can cause your website to be delisted.
As the search engines got wise to those old tricks, they began to give greater weight to other factors. As a result, content is one of the most important factors determining search engine performance.
Search engines have learned to “read” the content on your website, and use sophisticated methods to decide whether or not your website content is genuinely useful to people. Search engines want to be good at what they do, and want to provide quick access to the exact information people want.
The more your content provides the answers and information people are looking for the more likely your placement in search returns will improve.
Keep adding content to your website
Content is not a “once and done” proposition; the search engines will value your website more if you periodically add content that your visitors find useful.
Regularly adding quality content (“regularly” meaning pretty much as often as you can, on a regular basis) can contribute significantly to where your website shows up in search results.
There's lots more to this topic - please watch for future articles!