What is Search Engine Optimization?

Say you want to buy a printer cartridge online. The chances are that you will enter the words ‘Epson’ (or another manufacturer), ‘printer’ and ‘cartridges’ in your favorite search engine.

For those three words above on Google, you get about 1,980,000 results but only the first 10 or so will be displayed on the first page of results. The chances are that, if you do order, you will do so from one of the sites on the first two pages that came up.

Yet these sites may not offer the very best overall value, the best service or product guarantees and may even be abroad. Most people cannot be bothered to look past the first few pages – “because it is an okay deal”. You have a life away from online shopping, right?

Was it just luck that the company you chose to give your hard-earned money to came up in the first two pages of results while the remaining 1,979,990 suppliers came later? No way. These top sites are up there because they are optimized, by careful planning and rank boosting, to be easily found for these particular search words.

Search engine optimization is primarily the tweaking of various parts of a website to make it easier to find by search engines for specific keywords. Full optimization also means examining and improving many other elements of ancillary parts of the site as well as building links and also proactively marketing the unique value of what is on offer.

Most traffic on the internet is driven by the large search engines. Google may be the largest and best-known of these but Yahoo! and MSN are also big players. If your site is not found by these and other search engines, your message will not be seen by those you want to reach.

If you fail to optimize your small business website, you may miss out on many potential customers who are looking to pay someone for just what you have to offer. That failure may be costing you money right now.

Now we know the importance of search queries – the words and phrases that your potential customers type into the search boxes to find what they want. The results they get may make or break the success of your business. So it is important.

A good site also has to be easy-to-use for your visitors. Clear, consistent design without garish colors, no code errors, well-organized content with easy navigation, fully accessible with all the main and less-popular browsers, and high quality and accurate content with descriptive headlines.

Your site’s content has to be good – among the best in its sector if it is to become a valued resource for others and thereby become well-ranked by the search engines.

Now you know what it’s about, should you tackle such a massively important project as SEO in-house or should you outsource to professionals? The answer is not straightforward as it depends on whether you and your staff have the time and the expertise to do it properly. If not, can you train them? This is not a job for an inexperienced employee, just because their working week is not fully utilized.

It also needs to be planned and the project must have the proper resources allocated to it. Otherwise, it will be a waste of time.

If you have any doubts over that commitment, you should call in a professional. You should also do your homework, get recommendations and examine the results of their previous work before you part with a cent.

With proper care and planning, you can optimize your small business website to achieve higher ranking with the search engines, and ensure more traffic – and sales – from your site!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Entrepreneur and outdoor photography adventurer Caroline Melberg is President and CEO of Small Business Mavericks, a division of Melberg Marketing. She has over 20 years of experience creating marketing communications materials and writing copy for some of the largest and most successful companies in the world. Her small business columns are syndicated online, and she publishes the popular e-Zine “Maverick Internet Marketing Secrets.” Learn insider Maverick Marketing secrets you can use immediately to find new customers and increase your sales. Get your FREE subscription at www.SmallBusinessMavericks.com today!