8 Essential SEO Tips For Your Small Business

Increase the visibility of your company website by following these easy steps.
July 28, 2011

With most shoppers searching for products and services online, a higher search engine ranking for your website can lead to a big increase in sales for your business. When someone searches online, you want your site to appear near the top of the list of resources they find. The top few search results get the most traffic by far.

Using search engine optimization (SEO) practices can help you connect with online shoppers by moving your site up in the search results and by creating connections that can send traffic your way. Review the following tips to find ways to help your company.

Target the right keywords

Keywords are the words people use when they search the Internet. Using the right keywords is especially important because searchers tend to become more specific with their search terms as they get closer to making a purchase. A keyword research tool like Wordtracker can help you find out what keywords are being searched for. Keep a list of the most important keywords that relate to your business and use them frequently in your site content. Include three or four keywords in every 100 words of copy on your site and add keywords to captions for images.

Improve page titles

Page titles—the text that appears at the top of the browser screen—clue search engines into what your site is about. Search engines typically give more weight to title tags and page headers than other elements on a Web page. Keep title tags to around six words and use phrases that your prospects are likely to type into search engines, such as “Dallas car rentals” or “organic pet supplies,” rather than a generic page header like “Product Page.” It’s OK to include your company’s name in your title tags.

Cultivate links

Few things move your site to the top of a search results list faster than backlinks. These links come from other sites and serve as a sort of personal recommendation to help search engines identify the best content. One way to get backlinks is to create reciprocal links with peers, partners and related sites; better still is to create content so interesting that sites want to link to yours. Beware of businesses promising to get you tons of links quickly. Search engines can sniff these out and may even downgrade your site as a result.

Add new content

Search engines love unique content, so set aside time regularly—every week is ideal—to craft new content for your site. Content can be anything that showcases your expertise and relates to what your company sells. Building trust is key, so focus on information of value to site visitors over directly promotional copy. Write short articles (300 words), start a blog or make videos that relate to your business or discuss new products or industry trends. Turn customer support e-mails into a FAQ page or a catalog into an online buyers’ guide.

Speed up your website

Slow-loading sites are not only a turn-off to customers, but they can also lower your ranking on some search engines. If you’re not sure how quickly your site loads, try using Yahoo!’s YSlow, Google’s Page Speed Online or other tools that evaluate the performance of Web pages and offer suggestions to improve them. Increase your speed by using smaller images and fewer graphics.

Optimize everything

Search engines don’t do as well categorizing images, so provide alt tags to help get your site noticed. An alt tag is the text that appears when an Internet user hovers the mouse over an image or graphic. Ask the person who created your site for help if you aren’t sure how to do this on your own. Describe the images in your tags rather than stuff in a bunch of keywords. If the image is accompanying an article, you could use the article title as the alt tag.

Think locally

As many as 97 percent of consumers go online to research products and services in their local area, according to media research firm BIA/Kelsey. Sites like Google Places and YP.com have less competition than global search engines, making your business more visible during local searches. You can submit your information one site at a time or use a tool like AT&T’s Local Submission service for automated submission to multiple local search engines.

Use social media

People rely on recommendations from friends when deciding where to shop, so having a page on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter or review sites like Yelp and CitySearch can help you drum up business through positive word of mouth. Sharing content on these sites can also increase your search visibility. Include links to your social media pages on your site and encourage your customers and email subscribers to “like” or “follow” your pages. Keep your content fresh and engaging so they will want to share it and continue to come back.

SEO is an ongoing process, so you’ll need to continually make your site attractive to the search engines. The effort can pay off by making your business more visible to online shoppers and bringing new customers in the door. AT&T’s Web Marketing Toolkit offers SEO management tools that can help you increase your website visibility.