SEO 101

It can be embarrassing for a small business or an entrepreneur to admit that they don’t understand what SEO or Search Engine Optimization is.  In fact, I have been in more than one meeting where a business owner pretended to understand just so they wouldn’t seem out of touch.  But here’s the thing; I would never presume to know how to do your business or provide the service in the same way you do – there’s no judgment if you don’t know what I know because it’s my job to not only work alongside you but also to educate!

SEO can seem complicated, but in the simplest sense it’s just about making your business easier to find, similar to moving a sign for your business closer to the road or getting better placement in the phone book.  Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo use complicated algorithms (aka math) to determine who ranks more highly on a given search.  Lots of things help move your business closer to the promised land (first or second page), and you don’t necessarily need to know everything, but here are some basic pointers to get you started:

  1. Be everywhere.  This doesn’t mean you have to be active everywhere, it just means that the more profiles you have (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Foursquare, Yelp, G+, etc.) the more pervasive you become online and your rankings reflect that.
  2. Create content.  I firmly believe that the key to social media/branding success is content creation.  This is especially true from an SEO standpoint because additional content makes you seem more authoritative, increases the chance of virality (it’s a thing), and again makes you more visible online which in turn boosts your ranking.
  3. Crossover.  So you’ve set up everywhere, and you’re creating content – now what?  Now you need to start networking with others and gain some cross platform exposure.  Whether you’re a blogger, photographer, insurance salesman, or personal trainer, getting featured by others in your chosen industry is like internet gold.  Not only does this add a tremendous amount of legitimacy to your online presence, it also makes you immediately visible to a whole new group of potential customers.  Doing this once every month or two can still make a big difference.
  4. Don’t be creepy/spammy.  No one likes a creep, so don’t be that business that emails people constantly, tries to get 1000 followers overnight, or makes people give you all their personal information the first time they try to interact with you.  Not only are those huge turnoffs for customers, they’re also red flags for search engines.  Spam-like behavior can harm your rankings and get you closed out of accounts across the internet.  Don’t be that guy/girl.

And there you have it – the bare bones, most basic approach to SEO.  Of course, there are many more strategies to employ that will increase your visibility (tagging, paid ad placement, backlinks, keywords, etc.) but doing some of these basic things can help you make a big difference in your ranking, exposure, and (hopefully) sales!