Search Engine Optimization A Minefield For Your Local Business

What Is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (aka SEO or Search Engine Marketing) is the process of getting one’s website ranked high in the search engines (with a primary emphasis on Google).

As nearly all search engines sell “Sponsored Ad Space,” it is important to note that SEO is designed to help improve your “organic rankings” (aka the placement you get for free).

In the example, above, I’ve done a search using Google.com for the term, “small business accountant.” The areas denoted by the letter, “A,” are “Sponsored Links” and are therefore not affected by Search Engine Optimization. They are what are referred to as “Pay-per-click” ads (aka PPC). The businesses you see listed are paying Google a pre-defined amount for every “click” (i.e. visitor) they receive.

The area denoted by the letter, “B,” is the start of the “organic search engine listings” and this area IS controlled by search engine optimization techniques.

While there is nothing wrong with buying Pay-per-click ads, and it is something I recommend you consider, it is very important that your website/web pages rank well in the organic search engine listings as this can bring you lots of qualified website traffic completely free of charge.

There are two main aspects to search engine optimization. The first is referred to as “on-page SEO tactics” and the second, “off-page SEO tactics.” In the final section, we’ll touch on some of the different traffic strategies, and some factors that indicate an outstanding local SEO consultant.

In the next section, we’ll discuss the basics of “on-page” search engine optimization.

On-page SEO Tactics

On-page SEO is primarily technical in nature and needs to be applied to every page of your website. Websites are not optimized as a whole but rather one page at a time (but with a global perspective of what is trying to be achieved).

I’m not going to go into great detail as to what is specifically done to each page but I am going to give you a good overall understanding.

Basically, your on-page SEO should accomplish three main objectives:

Your website’s code (illustrated by the code from Walmart.com above) should be well-coded. By this, I mean that it should be easily read and understood by search engines.

Each page of your website should be built around “intelligent keyword phrases” that are likely to draw targeted visitors to your page/site.

Your site’s design should be attractive and your content found useful to visitors so as to encourage them to stay as long as possible on your site.

One on-page SEO tactic that isn’t even widely discussed it what is called “Visitor Experience Optimization.” (aka VEO)

Google (and other search engines) have the ability to track how long the average visitor stays on your website and gives added benefit to sites that have a longer than average “visitor duration.”

It stands to reason, right?

If the majority of your website visitors hit the “BACK” button after being on your site for only three seconds, it could be assumed that they either didn’t like what they saw or they didn’t find something they felt was relevant to what they were searching for.

However, if your visitors stay on your site for 1-3 minutes (or more), the search engines will give you a boost in the search engine rankings as your visitors have “spoken.” They obviously have liked something about your site long enough to hang around and therefore, your site is believed to contain “valuable” content.

This is one of the reasons that it’s wise to consider adding an “involvement device” to your website. This could include getting your visitor to sign-up for your company newsletter (to receive a coupon or other free gift), adding video to your website or simply allowing them to comment on the content you’ve posted.

All three options help your visitors connect with you in a more personal way than just having the ability to read your website’s content and can help you bring you more business in addition to helping your site rank better in the search engines.

Off-page SEO Tactics

There are a number of “off-page SEO tactics” but the most important one is how many links your site has “pointing at it” from other websites/pages across the internet.

If you’d like to get a general idea of how many links the search engines have found for your site, do this…

Go to Yahoo.com and enter the following into the search box: link:www.yourdomain.com (replacing “yourdomain.com” with your actual domain name).

Click the button to conduct your search.

This will take you to the “Yahoo Site Explorer” as shown above. Once on this page, select “Except from this domain” from the “Show Inlinks” drop-down menu so Yahoo will only show you the links it found from the other sites that are linking to you.

The more links your site has, the better.

This is because each link can be thought of as a “vote” for your site. The search engines figure that if others like your site well enough to link to it, then it probably contains valuable information.

This is why we use Article Marketing, Web 2.0 Strategies and a variety of other techniques to continually build links for our clients.

Traffic Generation Strategies

Even the most attractive of websites is useless without visitors and that’s why we utilize many different traffic generation strategies on behalf of our clients. We do our best to help you dominate the search engine results in an effort to bring you targeted traffic that is meaningful to your business.

Just a few of these strategies include…

  • Search Engine Optimization (both on-page and off)
  • Article Marketing
  • Press Releases
  • Blogging/RSS Feed Syndication
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Utilizing “Web 2.0″ properties (like Twitter.com, Facebook.com, etc.)
  • Video Marketing (like YouTube.com, Viddler.com, etc.)
  • Online Classifieds (like Craigslist.org, Kijiji.com, etc.)
  • And a whole lot more!

Whether you are looking to make direct sales from your website, build leads or encourage your visitors to stop by your store or office, you need to find a qualified consultant with experience doing SEO for local business who can advise you of the big picture, but at the same time craft a plan specific to your needs and objectives.