Posts Tagged "backlinks"

The Basics of Search Engine Optimization

When you run a local business, you might not think it’s that important to have your own web space. But in these modern times, nothing could be further from the truth.

There are many options available for you to design and upload your own website. You can find some free resources online, or you can employ the services of a web design company who will design your website for you.

So is creating a website as simple as uploading some web pages?

Well, yes and no. Once you’ve created your website and uploaded it to your web space, it will be available for anyone in world to see. But how will they know it’s there?

If you have a local business, you can definitely tell your current and potential customers about your website through signage, flyers, business cards, and word of mouth.

However, if you want new people to find your website online—people who didn’t know about your business in the first place—you have to devote some time and energy to SEO or Search Engine Optimization.

What SEO Is All About

People use search engines like Google or Bing to find information. For example, if someone is looking for a company that cleans ovens in New York, they will usually enter “oven cleaners New York” into the search engine. The search engine will show them the top results, usually the top 10 on the first page.

It’s important to understand that the majority of people will only click one or two of the results from the first page; they will rarely dig deeper and look at results further down the list on subsequent pages. This is why companies strive to appear on page 1 of Google search results.

So what do you have to do to appear on Page 1 of Google?

It all boils down to good on-page and off-page SEO.

Keywords and Search Terms

Google’s automatic web crawler will visit your website on your web space and index it. This means that Google knows your website exists and will list it in its database. But that still doesn’t mean your website will appear in the top 10 search results.

You have to do some keyword research first and figure out what keywords your customers are likely to use to search for the product or service your business provides.

Let’s say you’re a professional oven cleaner in the New York area. As mentioned before, someone might use the search term “oven cleaners New York,” but they might also use other variations like “clean ovens in New York” or “New York oven cleaners.” You can use a keyword research tool like the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to come up with a list of keywords that people have used to find oven cleaning services in the New York area.

After you pick a few main keywords, your next step is to optimize your website for those particular keywords.

Let’s say you’ve decided that “New York oven cleaners” is the keyword you really want to target because it gets a lot of searches each month. (While this is technically a phrase, it’s still considered a “keyword” in SEO parlance.) You want to optimize your website for that term. If you do things right, your website will appear on page 1 of Google when someone uses that search term. Appearing on page 1 of Google means more potential customers and more business.

On-Page SEO

There are a lot of easy things you can do very quickly to optimize your website for your keyword.

  • Make sure your keyword appears in the title and meta description within the website’s HTML code.
  • Use your keyword in at least one heading tag on your home page.
  • If you have some textual content on your home page, mention your keyword a number of times.
  • You can also make a couple of the keywords appear in bold or italics.

These little tricks all help inform Google that your website is all about the keyword. Google will rank it a little higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)—but we’re not on page 1 just yet.

Your website will probably have several different pages or sections to describe your products or services. Another good practice is to link some of your pages to other pages or your home page. Google’s web crawler will follow links, and when it finds interesting content, it will index those pages as well. Make sure you optimize each page for its own keyword. This will increase the chances of one of your pages appearing in the top 10 results.

Off-Page SEO

Google doesn’t just look at your website to determine what it’s all about and how high up the SERPs rankings it should appear. It also takes off-page factors into account.

For example, if other websites have links pointing to your website, Google will consider your website more authoritative. If some of these links are from really popular websites, then this is even better. These links are called backlinks, and backlinks are really important for any website.

Getting backlinks to your website and other pages on your web space can be a long process. Some businesses will pay SEO services to build these links for them, but you can do it yourself if you’ve got some free time. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Sign up at Blogger or WordPress.com and create a free blog about the product or service you provide. Include a backlink from these blogs to your own website.
  • Sign up at online forums and include a backlink in your forum signature. Build up a reputation by posting useful comments on the forums.
  • Write some articles about your product or service and distribute them to article directories such as EzineArticles. You can include a link back to your website from your article. This is a great way to get backlinks because articles get reused by people, so an article you write could end up appearing on thousands of different websites, all providing you with valuable backlinks.
  • Try making a video of your product or to describe your service. You can distribute it to video sharing sites like YouTube and include a link back to your website. This is a great way to generate new business, and if you can make the video a little crazy or funny, it’s even better because it could get passed around and may even go viral.

These off-page backlinks strengthen your website’s ranking and help raise its position in the SERPs up to the top spot, which is where every business owner wants to be.