The objective of this article is to teach small business owners how to make their business and brand visible in the search engines, such as Google and Bing. SEO or search engine optimization is somehow a strange field for most small business owners, especially those who don’t have a basic knowledge or experience in online marketing. SEO could be a technical process and hiring an SEO firm or professional can be beyond their budget. However, SEO processes are not all technical. There are simple yet effective SEO steps that small businesses and entrepreneurs can perform to bring their business on the search engine results pages, drive traffic to their landing pages, generate leads, and increase their sales.
Simple search engine optimization can be fun and rewarding for small businesses. If you want to try SEO for yourself, here are 20 SEO tactics that you can do to bring your business up in the search engine result pages.
1. Build a blog for your business
You do not need to be a web programmer to create a blog or a website nowadays. With a basic knowledge of the Internet and how website, domain name and web hosting work, you can actually build your own blog by carefully following some instructions. You can register a .COM domain name at around $12 for one year at NameCheap.com, GoDaddy.com or your preferred domain name registrar. For a blog starter, you can get a monthly shared web hosting at your preferred web hosting company for $10 or even less than that and gradually upgrade your account as your blog grows.
You may try Bluehost (my affiliate link which gives me some commission if you will use it)They offer a free 1-click installation of WordPress (the powerful CMS I use in this blog) and a free domain name to start your blog at an affordable price. A blog will surely bring your business or brand in the search results once search engines like Google start to index your blog pages and posts. WordPress is easy to manage. Once you are already in the WordPress Dashboard, you can instantly install free themes and plugins to groom your blog and improve its functionalities. If you wish to customize the design of your blog, you can simply hire a WordPress designer to change the look of your blog according to your desire.
To optimize your homepage for the search engines, choose a title and description that is relevant to your small business. You could include the name of your company, your official slogan, your main products or services, and your specific location or target market.
2. Write unique and interesting posts for your target audience
Once your blog is ready to go, quality should be your main priority. Write unique and interesting blog posts for your target audience. Make sure that you content can compete with the best or even become the best. SEO doesn’t start after you have written a content – it starts even before you create a content. To ensure that what you will write is worth reading, think of what your target audience wants to read. Write something that will become highly useful to them. Instead of making your product the main star of your stories, make your customers the main stars of your stories. Make your blog all about your customers rather than making it all about yourself. Remember that Google and other search engines love to index content that are more engaging and worth reading.
3. Use unique, relevant and appealing images in your posts
Search engines also index images in their database. Thus, if you love photography and if you have a decent camera to use, take interesting and relevant pictures to be used along with your blog posts or pages. SEO is fun and so is photography. The more unique and relevant pictures you have in your blog or website, the more images search engines will index from your site. Your beautiful images will also help your blog posts become more appealing when you share them on social media, like Facebook and Pinterest, since those images will be used as the thumbnails of your links shared in those sites. To optimize your images for the search engines, don’t forget to put the right title, description and alt text on each of your picture. This can be done easily using WordPress.
4. Publish your content with the right and targeted title and description
Just like your homepage, you also have to use relevant title and description in your every blog page or post. Your title and description is what will appear in the search results. Thus, make it more interesting and engaging. You can install Free SEO plugins like All-in-one-SEO-Pack or Yoast SEO Plugin right on your WordPress Dashboard to easily manage the title and description of your homepage and pages. Remember that SEO is not just for the search engines, but for the search users. Therefore, pick the best titles or headlines that will catch the attention of the searchers and not only of the search engines. Good SEO wants you to deal with humans and not with the engines. Besides, it’s more fun to deal with humans rather than with engines, right?
The title and description of my blog post as displayed in Google’s search results. It also shows my profile picture and number of circles from my Google+ profile.
5. Read other blogs in your niche and make valuable comments
You can make this a habit every time you are done publishing your post. You can search for high-authority blogs or blog posts that are relevant to your newly published post and read their content. Make sure to read them and learn from them so that you could make relevant and engaging comments. This tactic is fun because you get to know other bloggers, learn from their articles, check their blogging styles, make comments that give you relevant backlinks, and make some friends. Also, when you make comments, use your real name so that your real name as the author of your blog would also be optimized for the search engines.
6. Join online forums and communities in your category and join their discussions
Conversation, relationship and engagement are the future of SEO. Therefore, join relevant online communities and interact with them by joining in their valuable discussions. You can also complete your profile in these forums with your blog and business which would increase your quality inbound links. There are also other forums that allow their members to put their website or business in their signature which is seen in each of their post. You can take advantage of this by making valuable, relevant and useful threads in the forum. Don’t spam the forum but make some fun by sharing useful threads, building good relationships with other members, and learning from their ideas and tips.
7. Write a guest post for other blogs in your niche
To establish yourself as an expert in your field, contribute a guest post to other relevant blogs that have high authority and reputation. Do guest posting, not for the purpose of getting a backlink, but for the purpose of reaching out potential audience which could become your customers. Guest posting has many advantages when done with quality and authority. Through it, you can drive traffic to your blog, increase your subscribers and followers, and increase your market value as an author. All of these would make a positive signal in the search engines to increase your search rankings.
8. Attract quality backlinks through link baiting.
Linkbaiting is a challenging and exciting SEO tactic. You don’t need to be technical to do this. You just need to be creative and clever. Linkbaiting involves creating highly interesting and engaging content that will attract other bloggers or publishers to link on your content, thereby giving you natural and quality backlinks. Linkbaiting tactics include writing list (e.g. top 10) articles, linking out to top influencers, interview posts, and other content that will surely get the attention of other publishers because that content is highly useful, controversial and interesting. Check out Matt Cutts (head of the webspam team at Google) advice on linkbait and linkbaiting.
9. Create useful infographics.
Infographics are organized visual graphics that are highly informative. They can efficiently convey rich and interesting information like facts, statistics and other useful data to audience. That is why they are very popular and could easily become viral on social media, such as Facebook, Pinterest and blogs. Interested bloggers post great infographics in their blogs and give a credit link to their creators. So if you are good at graphics, why not utilize your skills to make interesting infographics? If you don’t have a talent in graphics but you have great ideas in mind, you can hire an infographic designer and let him or her visualize your ideas. Take a look at these 20 great infographics at Visual.Ly.
10. Create a Facebook Page for your business
Google also indexes Facebook Page. Hence, create a page for your business and make it engaging so that your page’ likes will grow and there would be more people who will be talking about your page. Remember that the number of your page’s likes and the number of people who are talking about it are also shown in Google’s search results.
Our newly created Facebook Page of Entreb, as displayed in Google’s search results. It also shows the number of people who liked it and the number of people who are talking about it.
11. Create a Google+ profile and business page
With Googles Authorship Markup, you can connect your Google+ profile so that your search results would have a picture beside it (check out the photo in #4, which shows how my Google+ profile pic shows in the search results). You could also create a Google+ page for your business to claim your brand.
Google is undoubtedly the leader in the search industry today. Thus, you have to leverage all of their products. You have to optimize your business for their search engine, social media (Google+), YouTube, Blogger, Google Places, Google Maps, and other products. Thus, don’t forget to also claim your business location at Google Places.
12. Create a YouTube Channel and start uploading videos
Googles YouTube is the second largest search engine and the largest search engine for videos in the world. Therefore, you cannot ignore YouTube for SEO. Utilize this video file sharing community to promote your business by producing interesting videos, uploading them in your channel, and sharing them on other social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. You could cover your company’s events, training, and other events that would also be useful to your audience. You could also produce an interesting or viral video commercial for your brand or products just like in TVs.
13. Create a Twitter profile for your business.
Continue to grow your social profiles and network. Your Twitter business profile is also indexed by search engines. The number of your Twitter followers and the number of the people who tweeted or retweeted your content will also send a signal to the search engines for authoritative rankings.
14. Create a LinkedIn account for you and your business.
Linkedin is the largest social networking site for professionals. Hence, don’t forget to create your account and build your business and professional brand in LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn profile page is also discoverable on search engines. Hence, it will help you grow your visibility on the search results.
15. Create a Pinterest Page for your business.
Leverage social media to increase your popularity all over the Internet. You can instantly create an account on Pinterest using your Facebook and Twitter account. You can utilize the great images and infographics you make to further promote your business through Pinterest – one of the most popular image-based social networking sites today.
16. Create profiles from other top social networking sites
If you want to have a healthy search ranking, you have to work not only for the search engines but for the entire Internet world. Don’t just limit your brand building on the top social media websites, but also find other high-authority social networking sites whose users are people who could be your potential customers. For example, if you are in the art and design niche, find the best social networking sites that are made especially for the artists and designers. Isn’t it fun and exciting to find the places where you truly belong?
17. Create a SlideShare.net profile your business.
This could also be a great SEO tactic for your business. You could upload your business presentations to your SlideShare account to earn backlinks and also to further reach relevant audience or prospective customers who may find your presentations useful to them. To ensure that your presentations will get notice, create highly informative and useful decks. Your Slideshare pages are also indexed by search engines and therefore will help your business become more visible in the search results pages. You can also look for other presentations sharing sites aside from SlideShare to further promote your presentation on the Internet.
18. Create a Scribd profile for your business.
Aside from presentations, you can also utilize your PDF files to promote your small business. File sharing sites like Scribd.com and Docstoc.com allow you to upload your files and share them publicly to promote your business. Your profile page and file pages are also indexed by Google and other search engines. Thus, this tactic also boosts your search engine visibility.
19. Make friends with other bloggers in your niche
SEO is becoming more relationship-based nowadays. The more blogger friends you have the more people may link on you. Of course you have to show them that your website, blog and business are worth linking and sharing to their networks. To earn more blogger friends, join bloggers’ groups online, attend blogging events, and always make yourself useful and helpful to them.
20. Wow your customers.
Do you want best search engine results? Give the best products, provide the best services, and wow your customers! If you would do bad business, your consumers’ experience will reflect in the search engines. Your customers may blog, post a Facebook status, tweet or write a product review about your business. Thus, make sure that you will give your customers the best experience.
Remember that search engine optimization is a universal process. It is like making your abs healthy. If you want to have a healthy tummy, you don’t just work out your abs, but you must work out your whole body and even your mind. This is also the same in SEO. If you want to have a good search engine results, don’t just work for the search engines, but work for the whole Internet world, including the people who live in it.