Starting a small business is rough.

Anyone who tells you differently is either lucky or they haven’t actually started a small business.

No matter how great your idea is, no matter how large the demand is for your product or service, it will always be difficult to drum up hype for your business and to get your products or services in front of those who would actually spend money on them.

Even the best platform and an impeccable and aggressive marketing campaign will not necessarily quell the trials of getting a business started.

Don’t let this depress you.

Like most small business owners, you’ve probably poured your heart and soul into this endeavor.

Search engine optimization is one of the best ways to make sure you are getting back what you’ve put into your business.

But how do you do it?

You don’t have hours to sift through how-to article after how-to article.

Here’s the basics that you need to know to kick off your campaign:

Keywords

While keywords are by no means the only factor that Google and other search engines use to rank your website, they are still important.

How do you find keywords?

You have basically two options: you can pay someone to do keyword research (a good option if you have a little extra cash to spend or have an online management company that will roll it into their SEO services) or you can do the research yourself.

Keyword research isn’t as difficult as it sounds.

There are lots of free and cheap online tools that will not just suggest keywords for your website, but will actually help you find keywords that meet the low-competition, high-search-volume criteria of a great keyword.

For most of these tools, you will need a seed keyword, which is often as simple as isolating your company’s industry and niche and using that word or phrase to find similar words or phrases that your customers are likely to search when looking for products and services like the ones you offer.

It is important, during this process, not to neglect local search terms and keywords, even if you are planning to expand into a national or international business and you don’t actually sell anything in a physical store.

Google and search engines like it still favor local companies is search results over companies that are not local.

If you want to reach out to customers or clients in your own community before expanding, making sure you have local keywords as well as more generalized keywords is key.

A final note about keywords: choosing specific keywords that relate more directly to what you offer is going to be much more effective than choosing general keywords.

General keywords will have a lot of competition.

Specific keywords will have far less competition and therefore will drive more targeted traffic to your website.

Content

The foundation of your small business SEO campaign will be great content, both on your website and on your blog.

Finding someone to handle that content, especially if you are not a writer or don’t feel confident in your ability to create as much content as you need in the small amount of time you have to create it, is far easier than it used to be.

Start by inquiring after your website development company.

Many developers have a content writer on staff or on contract that they trust to create great content for you.

All you have to do is provide subjects and they’ll return with the content that you need. T

his is an extremely easy way to have the content that you need created for your website.

If you prefer to write the content yourself, here are some tips that can ensure that your content is as valuable and effective as possible.

First, think about what your customer or client’s needs are.

For example, if you are a dentist, your patients are probably searching first, for dentists in their area, and second, for dentists that can provide the specific services that they are looking for.

Considering these two factors will lead you to write content that is location-specific and focuses heavily on the services that you can provide to patients.

The same goes for any business, in any industry.

Without content that clearly tells your customers or clients what you can do and why they should choose you, site visitors are likely to move on to another website for another company that does provide that information.

What You Really Need to Focus On

As you start to look into search engine optimization for your company, you are probably going to run into a lot of words that you aren’t familiar with.

Terms like “meta tags” and “meta data,” and “landing pages,” etc.

Don’t be intimidated by the jargon.

Especially when you are just starting out, nothing is going to be more important than getting the right keywords into valuable content that is on both your webpage and your blog.

Once you have that content and a schedule for ongoing blogs, you can start to branch out and focus on other information.

When you have the basics in place, make sure your images have descriptions.

Google loves a website that is rich with images (as searchers prefer image-rich website) and providing the images with descriptions gives you another opportunity to add keywords to your website.

Set up a sitemap (or have your developers do it for you).

While it’s a myth that this will automatically make your website easier for Google to index and crawl, it does make your website easier for users to navigate, which, again, Google will give you props for.

Last but not least, start a linking campaign.

This is one of the more complicated aspects of SEO, but especially on your blog, start including links back to pages of your main website (when relevant, of course), and make sure that any local directory listings have direct links to your homepage.

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