SEO Tips for Small Businesses


SEO 101: The Essentials

As a Houston SEO professional, people often ask me how they can best help improve their website’s ranking on Google.  While I can try to offer as much insight as I can in passing, the truth is that SEO and SEM are long-term Internet marketing campaigns that require a lot of time, strategy, and diligence to master.

I have been approached by many small business owners who simply don’t have the budget to hire an Internet marketing firm.  When I try to give them a quick 45 second break down of what they need to do to improve their blog or website, they almost always have that distant look in their eyes like they have been meditating for the last 30 seconds.  So here it is; a breakdown of the most essential SEO tactics for small business owners.

Title Tags and Meta Description

Okay, your title tags are what will show on the search engine results page, and are heavily weighted to reflect what a user types in.  If you are selling flowers in Houston, they should definitely include the words “flowers” and “Houston”, not just your company name.
If your website has internal pages, spread out your keywords, targeting specific flower related services and categories that people would look for. For example,  “flower delivery”, “funeral arrangements”, “wedding arrangements”, etc.  This way when users search for “Houston wedding arrangements”, search engines will know that this page on your website is relevant and should show up as a result.

Your page’s meta description shows up under your website’s title tags, and should be descriptive enough to let users know that you are selling flowers in Houston.  However, be aware that only the first 140 characters are shown, so make it short but sweet.

Add Content to Your Website

Content is descriptive information on your website related to the goods and services that you provide.  You need to build trust with your users, so having as much information here as possible is the first step in creating it.  Also, search engines love content.

Adding a blog to your website keeps your content fresh, which search engines always love.  Remember, blogs don’t need to be full-blown research articles.  Keep them casual and topic oriented, and users will eat them up.

Know Which Keywords to Target

Who is your audience?  What would they type in to search for your particular products or services?  Say you are a local artist, and you want to attract people interested in buying art exclusively from Houston artists.  Target keywords specific not only to your genre of art (abstract, boho,etc.), but also to your location.  Examples of good keywords for a local Houston artist are: “Houston watercolor portraits”, “Abstract watercolor art Houston”, and so on.  Be as specific as you can, tailoring each keyword to fit the unique products or services that you offer.

What to do With Your Keywords

So you have a working list of the keywords you want to target.  What to do next?  The holy grail of SEO is anchor text, those little blue words you see so often on the Internet that take you to a new website when clicked.  Your need to write blogs and articles about your work or industry, building anchor text links with your keywords that point to your website.
WordPress is a great blogging site to use, as are Blogger, Tumblr, and Posterous.  Pick one or two of these sites to begin with, practicing their layouts to become familiar.  Once you have become familiar with them, start blogging about things relevant to your industry and products. Build relationships with others in your community as well, leaving comments and responding to comments about your posts.

Keep it Natural

Don’t ever keyword stuff or spam sites just to get links.  Yes, I said that anchor text is the holy grail of SEO.  However, you only want good links that are natural.  Don’t try to stuff a bunch of keywords into your article just to get links.  Readers and search engines will both recognize this, and discredit you.  Google may even penalize you, which is very hard to recover from.

Keep your content natural and current.  Let your voice be heard all across the blog!  This should make your site gain in popularity, also increasing your website’s ranking on search engines.  Good luck small business owners, now get to work.

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Keith Nichols MDKeith Nichols MD
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