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5 SEO tips for small-business owners


If you create a website for your business but no one knows where it is, can you make a sale? Probably not. Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, websites are hard to stumble upon. If your business doesn’t appear in a search engine results page (SERP) and no one knows your site’s address, customers won’t find you.

Search engine optimization (SEO), which ranks your website higher on a SERP, is key to getting customers through your virtual door.

David Sofranko, an online instructor in the web development program at University of Phoenix, offers five tips to help you increase your ranking:


Start with keyword research.

If you want your website to rank higher in search engines, you need to determine what words to include on the site. The Google AdWords™ Keyword Planner “is a great place to start,” says Sofranko, an electronic communication and development specialist in Ohio, “because it can scan your site and suggest keywords.”

Consider including one or more keywords in specific areas of your page, such as the headline and text. The meta tag, a brief summary of a page’s content, appears beneath the title of your page in search results, so fill it out, too.

Sofranko also advises checking a competitor’s website. “Figure out what content they have that’s providing good results,” Sofranko says. If you know the keywords your competition uses to rank higher in SERPs, use similar terms for your business.


Update title tags.

Customers see these first, and they’re among the biggest factors that affect ranking. “Title [headline] tags are hugely important,” Sofranko says. If you’ve identified keywords, he advises writing content that incorporates some of those keywords.

“For small-business owners who are handling things themselves,” he notes, “this is one of those things that they can change quickly and cheaply to try and get better results.”


Make the site accessible to everyone.

“There’s an overlap between accessibility and SEO,” Sofranko emphasizes. For instance, for visitors with slow Internet connections, you need to make sure every image on your page has an alt tag — the description that’s visible when an image doesn’t load.

Sofranko recommends properly naming the image itself as well. A picture of a necklace, for example, should have a file name that includes that word.

These tags “can help all users find pages more quickly, since search robots can use the text when indexing pages,” according to web content accessibility guidelines established by the World Wide Web Consortium.


Build a social media presence.

The Google™ search engine “often gives higher ranking to sites with popular, shareable content,” Sofranko says. “If your business has a blog, and you’ve just written an article about 10 tips for doing XYZ, you can post a link to it on social media sites” to drive traffic to yours.

The Facebook® social network also can be used to communicate directly with your target audience, Sofranko adds. “If you sell retro video games,” he points out, “you can find groups dedicated solely to that topic and market to them.”


Focus on great content.

Some marketing professionals swear by landing pages — those specifically created to convert visitors into customers and be shared on social media — to boost sales. But Sofranko advises small-business owners to avoid them. “If your landing pages are not done right,” he emphasizes, “you can drive away traffic.”

Customers unfamiliar with your company won’t appreciate the landing page strategy, which Sofranko calls a “hard sell” — direct, forceful advertising that doesn’t give customers a chance to learn about your company or what it does.

“I’m an advocate for well-designed pages with good content,” he says. “Focus on those things, and the rest will fall into place.”

Google AdWords and Google are trademarks of Google Inc.
Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.

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