Top Ten SEO Tips For Small Businesses

Search engine optimisation is something that all business owners with a website need to be aware of. If you’ve got a site and want to drive relevant traffic to that site, you need to know what to do to help the search engines get a good understanding of your business, so they can rank it for the terms you feel are most suitable for visitors. It’s not about tricking the search engines, or trying to boost traffic numbers in general. You need to see an increase in relevant traffic to you site (10 relevant visitors are far better than 1000 non relevant visitors, who leave your site straight away), and Google wants to provide searchers with a list of high quality sites, relevant to their search query.

1. Research your keywords: Make sure that you know what people type into Google and the other search engines when looking for your products or services. Research into how competitive these phrases are – are there any phrases that are relevant, but aren’t quite so competitive? These are more likely to give you the results you want. Also think about plurals and synonyms.

2. Make sure each single page on your site has a unique title tag. If you’ve done your keyword research, you should also aim to use keyword/phrases in the title tag too.

3. Additionally, make sure that all the meta descriptions for each page are unique too. Since the search engines mostly show the title and description of a page in the search results, make sure your descriptions correlates to your title, includes keywords, and has some kind of call to action that persuades the searcher to click on your link rather than the result above or below you.

4. Using your keywords and phrases, look at the headers within your pages. Headers tags are like the headlines of a newspaper – your H1 header should contain your primary keyphrases, with any H2 headers containing your secondary phrases.

5. Look at your copy– does this contain keyphrases? Make sure you don’t keyword stuff your copy though – aim for about a 3% ratio of keywords to copy. The content of your site should be written with your visitors in mind first, SEO second, so make sure it still makes sense and adds value.

6. Analyse your website structure. Do you have a lot of deep pages, hidden within subfolder after subfolder? Aim to keep the architecture of your site nice and flat – you don’t want to make it difficult for search engines or visitors to find content. Try and keep everything within two clicks of the homepage.

7. Going back to content – how fresh is the content on your site? Google and the other search engines love new and unique content. So try and update your website on a regular basis. This could be through a blog, press releases, or new product pages. Just keep it fresh – no one likes anything stale!

8. Linking…. oh linking, everyone is always going on about the number links to your site…why? Because it’s important! Each link is like a vote of confidence in your site, so the more you have (from reputable, high quality sites), the better. Building the number of quality links to your site takes time. Register with industry directories, local directories, become active in social media, make the most of social bookmarking, create amazing relevant content that people will want to link to, create articles and post them out to article sites, comment in forums… there’s so many activities you can do to increase the number of links to your site. It’s an investment – in time and sometimes money, but it’s worth it.

9. Register with Google Webmaster and submit your xml sitemap. This is an xml file includes all the pages of your website in a way that makes it easy for Google to reference and index. Google Webmaster will also tell you if there are any errors with your site, what some popular keywords are surrounding your site, some of the links pointing to your site and more.

10. Register with Google Analytics and start using it on a regular basis to monitor your site. Google Analytics is a free piece of software that enables you to track all the activity on your site. It’s actually a bit scary the amount of information it can give you. But for a small business owner, or marketing professional, it’s an invaluable tool that can help you improve your website performance and growth.

This is just the tip of the SEO iceberg – there’s so much to SEO and it’s constantly changing and evolving. At the end of the day though, it’s all about creating a quality website, adding regular quality content and being active in the world wide web. It’s not rocket science, but it does take time.

Steps to Starting a Small Business – Market Research

Getting enough information on your target market of potential customers is vital to starting a business that will produce income. Making guesses on what the customer really wants will not bring you very far, so it’s important to do some digging and get the answers directly from them through market research which is an important steps to starting a small business.

Some of the following questions to ask in order to device effective strategies:

  • Who is going to buy your product or service?
  • What kind of people are they? (buyer, influencer or end user)
  • How big is the market? (Competitor’s annual sales would give you an estimate)
  • How will market trends going to affect your business?
  • Does your business has any unique selling point?
  • Is the need for your product or service currently not being met?
  • Is the market already saturated?

Why do it?

You will not be able to sell something or services that has no demand. Knowing what the market is looking for and so that you can present it in a new twist, drives the need for a market research. The advantage of small businesses is that they are close to their customer and can easily get information on their purchasing habits.

How to do it?

Most of the big companies spend huge amounts of money on elaborate surveys from renowned researchers to determine if their products or services will appeal to customers at a price they are willing to pay. But for small business owners on a tight budget, there are other means to collect the key data needed without having to spend a fortune.

3 ways to collect information:

  • Get business school students to collect data at the mall.
  • Look for financial data and statistics in local library.
  • Join trade association not only to access market research they have conducted but do the networking there as well.

Do I need any ongoing market research while running the business?

Yes, this is how you gather information to evolve and adapt to the changes in market trends.

3 types of methods:

  • Keep a close watch on what your competitor is doing.
  • Install point-of-sales software to track sales or services trend.
  • Put up customer suggestion box where they can write suggestions.

Every business needs to conduct market research, it is a crucial steps to starting a small business, and tight budgets are no excuse for omitting a research plan. By starting out with some easily accessible resources, you can begin to develop better marketing strategies that can position you for market growth.

Mastermind Your Small Business Success

Mastermind Your Small Business Success

Although it had been a dream of my husband’s for decades, the thought of starting a business on my own was simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. After some careful thought and discussion, my husband Gerard and I cashed in our NY chips and moved to Maine in 2003 to birth Gerard’s “baby”, his jewelry store, Porte4.

For all of you self-employed, small business owners reading this, you know what I mean about the exhilarating / terrifying contrasting emotions that occur in the course of running your own business don’t you? In fact, the exhilaration can turn to terror in the blink of an eye, feeling like the two emotions are inseparable.

But get here, we did and I found the resources available to small business owners and entrepreneurs overwhelming. If you are thinking about starting a business, want to buy a business or want to grow the business you already have, there’s no shortage of information here: SCORE, SBA, ASBDC [http://www.asbdc-us.com], http://www.Business.Gov, Small Business Assistance Center at http://www.sbacnetwork.org. These are just a few; the list goes on & on. Two other great sources of information are Entrepreneur.com and the small business section on About.com ( http://www.about.com/business). Happy researching!!

Gathering the information wasn’t the problem. What I found the most difficult was converting all the information I found into usable and practical ‘how-to’ data. It was data overload and I needed to talk to someone about the real-world of starting the business, not the academics of it. Things like:

  • How do you balance the needs of everyone: customers, employees, family, self?
  • When and how do you make the decision to hire your first employee?
  • …and then how do you recruit and keep great people?
  • What is the right mix for marketing your small business? – Multi-media advertising, PR, speaking, event sponsorship, direct and e-mailing; networking; community involvement …Argh!
  • Growth Strategies – How do you balance the need for growth & innovation yet keep the core of your business steady and strong?
  • Well? Who can you turn to for help in making critical decisions? Wouldn’t it be nice to talk to someone on a regular basis who 1) you could trust and 2) could give you feedback based on their experience?

    Consider joining a small business mastermind forum. Mastermind forums or peer advisory groups provide small business owners and entrepreneurs a confidential environment to share with each other, helping each other by leveraging each other’s experience and knowledge, and so much more.

    The benefits of a good group will FAR exceed the investment.
    Among them are:

  • Reduce Costs: Small business owners often don’t have the budget to “re-invent the wheel”. By learning what other businesses have successfully done, you can save time and money.
  • Avoid Mistakes: Solving business problems on your own can result in costly delays and errors. Learning what others have done can help keep you moving forward.
  • Find New Ideas: Get outside your own paradigm and see through the eyes of other business owners. They may give you a perspective that leads you to a far greater outcome than you could have achieved on your own.
  • Improve Performance: When you look for best practices outside your own business, a wonderful thing happens. You raise the bar of performance and set new standards of excellence to propel your company forward.
  • There are a number of executive / CEO forum groups you can consider. Most are franchised and target the executives of larger companies (those with $10 million in sales or more). From personal experience I know the challenges small business owners and solo-preneurs have are every bit as plentiful and just as frustrating and complex as those of larger organizations. However, the smaller the business the more the professional can benefit from participating in a small business mastermind forum.

    Larger organizations have their boards of directors and big budgets. Small business owners and entrepreneurs should have their own advisory support. Grow your small business success through a small business mastermind group.

    Until next time, BE BOLD, Do Bold Business. Remember, it all starts with a Vision.