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Basic search engine optimization for small business

The BFM team is here at SMX, learning everything from the depths of duplicate content issues to the intricacies of web copywriting. Which is a great reminder that the easy part comes first: any small business can rank on page one for highly targeted searches, by following a few fairly simple steps.

• Decide what to target: If you don't have a big budget and an experienced search marketing team, don’t try to compete with someone who does. You should try to target the name of your business, and the names of any of your principal employees. You can also rank well for extremely local, extremely specific keywords. You probably won't get "New York Auto Repair," but you might get "Sunset Park Ford parts."

• Create Useful Content: You know your business better than your customers: so show them. Write a section on your site that includes your main targeted keyword in the title, and includes related keywords in section titles. Don't overdo it: read your page out loud and see if it sounds natural.

• Link effectively within the site: Once you have something worth reading on your site—a useful description of how your business works, a history of your company showcasing your experience, an impressive biographical page about the founder—you can start linking within the pages.

Your founder bio can link to your company page (and vice versa). Your company page can link to specific services pages in context, to give readers more information.

• Promote, but just a little bit: you don't need to work full-time to promote your website. But you can link to your company page through your social media profiles, and you can contribute to online news sources that are relevant to your business. This gets your name in front of people who could be interested in your business—and it shows search engines that relevant sites are willing to link to you (and webmasters don't mind the free content!)

• Get active, locally: Add your physical address to the footer of your site, and add your business to location-based sites like Yelp. You should also add yourself to local search listings on the main search engines.

• Test results—patiently: You won't get instant results, and you shouldn't expect to. But once you've created your content and gotten a few links, wait a few weeks and check your rankings. You should be ranking well for your brand name; you'll probably be near the top for employee names, behind LinkedIn and Facebook. If you don't rank well for local searches for your product or service, look at who outranks you, and find out what they're doing differently: more links? More targeted content? A more popular site in general? If you can match their advantages, do it—if not, get more specific about where you are and what you do. Ranking well locally is better than ranking decently on broader queries. Who is more likely to be your next customer: the one who searches for your products in your city, or the one who searches for your product in your exact neighborhood?

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  1. Great article. People have a hard time setting realistic goals, but it’s a must!

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