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Be Found- Search Engine Optimization for Newbies

“Build it and they will come”… if only that were true.

So, you are about launch your new website or start a biz and you really want to drive customers to your site. In a Google world, being found online by potential customers is a lot easier, but you need to know how to work the search engines in order to make your small business a success story!

CareerFuel is one of tens of millions of companies positioning itself to be found by search engines. In our case, the challenge is huge given entrenched players like the SBA (Small Business Administration), Indeed, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, Monster, Inc. and Entrepreneur.com.

Here are a couple of key things we’ve learned so far that might be helpful to those of you doing startups and small business owners who can’t afford a consultant to do this for you.

It all starts with keywords—the words people type into the Google search bar. Keywords help “the black box” behind search engines categorize you. Think of it like the Yellow Pages—where would you want your business to be found? If you are a pizzeria, it could be restaurants, pizzerias, Italian food, takeout, etc. To get started, the Google Key Words Tool will do the “trick” and here is a step-be-step guide to accomplish it.

Links are another way to bring people to your site and be noticed by search engines. If you sell sporting equipment, perhaps the local high school website will link to your store because you carry the equipment their players need—this is an opportunity for a link and a homerun, commercially. Think of compatible businesses and ask if they would be willing to put a link to your business on their own site.

The next best type of link is the opposite:  when you hyperlink to another website from your site. If you design and sell jewelry, you might want to link to retail stores that carry your line. Tutoring businesses could link to Khan Academy or other sites that offer compatible learning resources.  A clothing boutique could link to shops with specialty shoes or local businesses that make unique accessories.

Creating original content brings great dividends on search engines.   When Google, Bing and Yahoo shuffle the data to bring back results for a search, they strongly consider the quality, quantity and recency of your information.  New blogs, videos, graphics, columns, etc., that you create signal to search engines that you are an active participant in this area.  This is viewed very favorably by the algorithm.  This makes sense because when you think about picking a hotel, for instance, pictures, testimonials and suggested day trips go a long way to making you feel good about your selection.

Being found is essential for any business to succeed.  Paying a little attention to search engine optimization (SEO) will help you get there, particularly as mobile phones become our primary source of information.

Good luck with your new business ventures!

For more on SEO for you small business, check out this intro from SEO practitioner Drew Griffiths, followed by “Actionable SEO for Small Business.”

About Heather van Werkhooven

Senior research executive with Nielsen in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates