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A major part of online marketing is making sure that your website shows up in search engine results. For the small business owner on a budget, hiring a consultant to handle the search engine optimization (SEO) for their business website can sometimes be expensive. There are definite benefits to having a specialist manage your website. But it is always good to know these basic elements of SEO, whether you plan to do them yourself or just want to understand what your consultant is working on.
The page title is what shows up in the results pages when someone performs a search, so it's important to have a page title that very accurately reflects what the page is about. It is also important to have unique page titles for each page on your site and the more descriptive the better. Some of the elements you may want to include in your page titles are the name of your website, name of your business, maybe some description of your products or services and your location if it is a local business. On the technical side of things, make sure to use title tags to identify your page title.
Make Site Navigation Easy
The easier your site is to navigate the better able search engines are to evaluate the most important content. While Google's search engine treats each page individually for search results, it also takes into account the pages context within the website.
Using "breadcrumbs" is a good way to make things easier for your visitors. Breadcrumbs are a series of the links the visitor has followed to get from the home page to the current page. This is what breadcrumbs look like:
Provide Two Sitemaps
A sitemaps is a page that shows all of the pages in your site organized by their hierarchy. For site visitors this is a good way to get a quick bird's eye view of your website without having to click through all the navigation links. Search engines like XML sitemaps, but humans like good old HTML sitemaps that are easy on the eyes and easy to follow. From a technical standpoint, there are free tools to create both types of sitemaps.
Promote Your Website
With the latest changes to Google's search algorithms it is more important than ever to promote carefully. You do want to get your website noticed, but you definitely want to avoid anything Google may see as extreme, which it views very negatively.
Put your URL on all your promotional materials, including your business cards. Create an RSS feed so people can keep up with your new content easily. Get to know sites related to your topic and approach them about linking to each other's sites. Inbound links, also known as backlinks or incoming links are a great way to get SEO love. Running display ads can help both for the clicks they can attract as well as by increasing how often people search for your business by name. Be judicious in who you get to link to you, though, because unrelated links will actually hurt you.
Use Free Webmaster Tools
All of the major search engines provide free webmaster tools that are designed to make it easier for them to gather the information about your site to make their search results better. Google Analytics and Website Optimizer are two basic tools every webmaster should use. If you use Wordpress there are also free SEO plugins that make it much easier to optimize pages with very little effort.
Provide Great Content
We have saved the best for last, because great content has the biggest impact on your websites long-term SEO. If you get all the other things right and have lousy content, you may get site visitors, but they won't come back. Content SEO is a subject all its own, but a great start is to have well written content that is extremely relevant to your products and/or services and keep adding new content frequently. We have touched on frequency in other articles and it bears repeating here. One great article won't cut it. When it comes to content you must be consistent and persistent to get good long-term results.