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Search Engine Optimization

Fred Lebhart Posted by Fred Lebhart on May 15, 2011

Website SEO Search Optimization for Business Owners

Website SEO (Search Optimization) for Business Owners

website search optimization doesn't have to be difficult

Most small business owners aren't very familiar with SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which is the process of ranking specific web pages as high up in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Positions) as possible. It's increasingly important to use SEO to finds.
 

WEBSITE SEO Basics

Let's cover some SEO basics -the task of performing SEO is split into two parts; OFF SITE optimization and ON SITE optimization:

On-site optimization

On-site SEO is the proper usage of all of the HTML elements on your site, along with keywords. Every entrance page on your site (usually your home page, articles, etc..) needs to be focused towards specific keywords. The keywords you choose to target need to be placed in critical sections of the HTML. The meta tags (description and keywords), the title tag, head tags (H1, H2, H3 etc..), alt tags, etc.. are all the most important places in which keywords need to be placed. Don't spam the keywords though, you want to use your keywords naturally, otherwise google will penalize you and make ranking difficult.

On-site optimization always involves the process of creating a solid interlinking structure within your site. Whenever possible and wherever relevant, you want to link your visitors to other pages on your site. And you want to link them with proper anchor text (the primary keyword that the article is associated with).

On-site optimization is the easiest half of SEO. They're all variables which you can control. Back in the 1990s, search engines were very ineffective at providing reliable results because they only relied on on-site variables to rank web sites. All you had to do was spam your keyword in your html and you would receive top rankings. Google's success came from taking into consideration off-site optimization in order to provide better results.

Off-site optimization

Off-site SEO is all about other websites that link to you. There are a many factors that go into off-site optimization. Google wants you to receive those backlinks in natural "white-hat" ways. Google is always at a constant battle with SEO Black Hats (you know, the guys that keep spamming your wordpress blog). The method I described above in my own story is considered white hat because the tutorial spread naturally and other websites willingly linked to it.

The most important factors of effective off-site optimization are:

  1. Relevance: When Google indexes a website and all of its pages, it automatically categorizes that website and each individual page into a specific niche based on the content it finds. If a website about shoes links to your website about web design, less weight (ranking influence) will be given to that link.

  2. Authority: Several factors of a website determine the authority it has. Age, content, and the amount+quality of backlinks it receives make up authority. If you receive a backlink from Google.com, it will play a much more significant role in your ability to rank for a keyword than if you were to receive one from your mother's blog.

  3. Anchor text: this is anchor text. Even more important than the surrounding content on the page you're receiving a backlink from is the anchor text. This is why it's very important to place your target keyword in the title tags of your page. There are many automated systems like vBulletin for instance, that will replace the URL of a page with the title tag for the anchor text.

You must also choose your keywords correctly. If you think you're going to rank for a keyword like "web design", think again. While it's possible, you're going to be up against some very experienced SEO experts who are constantly trying to improve rankings. If you're just starting out, go after more targeted niche keywords. There are a whole slew of applications and web based services that are based entirely around finding good keywords which I've linked at the bottom of this article.

Onto the good stuff...

Now that you have a basic understanding of what SEO is and how search engines rank websites, I'll give you some great ideas that you can begin implementing in order to find design clients through SEO.

City, State + "Web Design", "Web Designer", "Print Design", etc..
This is the most obvious option. Let's say you're from Seattle, WA. People in Seattle who want a website designed are searching google right now trying to find "Seattle web designers", or "Seattle web designers", or "Seattle WA website design". Make sure either your home page, or a page on your site is geared towards these city+state+topic keywords. And then make sure you get backlinks from other sites with those keywords as anchor text. It's that simple.

Contribute content to other websites
You write an article, a tutorial, a guide or whatever exclusively for another website, that website will usually allow you to link to your website from within that article. 1-way backlinks (a link you receive that you do not reciprocate) hold a lot of weight.

Write awesome content
Submitting your own content it to the popular social bookmarking sites is a must if you don't already have a lot of traffic. Digg, reddit, del.icio.us, stumbleupon are all great for this method. You can also submit it as a tip to sites like this and they may feature you in a roundup article. You just have to remember that you have a target keyword, and that it's mentioned enough throughout your content, especially in the most critical areas like the title and h1 tag.

Get Niche
Let's say you're in the business of doing something very specific, let's say you're great at 3D logo design. If your site is all about 3d logo design (the keyword even in the domain name, articles about 3d logo design, etc. etc.) it's going to be a lot easier for you to rank and start receiving traffic than it is if your site is just about "logo design" in general. Remember what I said earlier, the more niche a keyword is, the easier it will be to rank because chances are, there's less competition.

Help Others
Every backlink counts. Backlinks are the single most important ranking factor after you have your page up and running. If you hang out on design forums, or you like helping answer question on Yahoo Answers, you can find opportunities to mention your link where it can help others. Search engines crawl pages regularly, and when they find your link on a new page, it's only going to help.

Using just one or two of these methods can push you to the top of the search engines for a keyword, which can result in new website traffic, and potential customers, every month.
 

SEO Tools & Resources

If you're going to get serious about ranking in search engines, there are a lot of tools that can make the task easier.

  • Google Keyword Tool: Great website tool for finding keywords and their associated monthly and global search volume. It can also help you brainstorm for keyword ideas.

  • SEOBook & SEOMoz: These are two popular web based SEO tools providers.

  • SEOQuake: An awesome FireFox & Safari plugin that provides you with SEO related information on websites and google results.

  • Onlywire, SocialPoster, SocialSubmit, TubeMogul: All services that make it easy to push a single article or video to multiple websites.

  • Google Analytics, Piwik, getclicky: All great services for tracking and analyzing website traffic.

SEO is an entire industry in and of itself, so it may take time to get a firm grasp. The list above should help you get your feet wet. My advice is to start small. Try getting your business to rank for the city you live in + whatever category of business you're in, like "seattle website design", or "seattle wa web designer". Once you start receiving traffic and customers, you'll understand SEO can be a great way to build your business!